This season has been a bit of a mixed bag for Crewe Alexandra in League Two, with David Artell’s troops currently sat in mid-table with just seven matches remaining.
For Artell, however, there is one aspect that has held the club back more than others this season: results on the road.
“Our away form before Christmas could have been better. It’s given us a mountain to climb,” the 38-year-old told Football League World in an exclusive interview.
“I think it’s very hard to put your finger on it but I think mentality has got a big thing to do with it.
“And I think we play a different way at home in our own heads.”
It is easy to see the disparity between home and away form with just a quick glance at the alternative tables.
Based on home form alone, the Alex are nestled comfortably in the play-off places, but when away matches are seen in isolation, they are facing a relegation battle.
But a recent upturn in fortunes has seen Artell’s side give themselves a sniff of making a late burst for a top seven spot.
Their last six matches on the road have seen wins against promotion hopefuls Mansfield and MK Dons as well as draws with Cambridge United, Oldham and Macclesfield, pushing them to within eight points of a promotion shot.
However, Artell remains cautious:
“We’re heading in the right direction but it might be a bit too late,” he said reluctantly.
“But we’re going to give it a go and see how far we get. I know we’ve got some favourable looking games on paper coming up in the next four games but that doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win them.
“And if we do manage to win them then we’ve got a three game shoot-out and that’s what we’re looking at.”
This weekend sees Cheltenham Town pay a visit to the Alexandra Stadium as the home side look to make it three wins on the bounce and close the gap further on play-off places.