Conference title race 'is not over', says Grimsby Town's Shaun Pearson
"PEOPLE wrote us off after four games and some are writing us off again. We're determined to prove them wrong and make sure we're up there at the end of the season."
Centre-half Shaun Pearson was part of the Grimsby Town side that took five matches to win for the first time this campaign.
And he was at the heart of the defence again on Tuesday night as the Mariners made it two defeats on the bounce for the first time this season.
But the 23-year-old is keen to focus on the six months in between, which saw his side rise to the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier, and establish themselves as genuine title contenders.
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Nothing has changed in the space of a week insists the former Boston United man – provided Town get back to winning ways against Cambridge United tomorrow.
"The defeats to Kidderminster and Mansfield haven't hit our confidence at all," said Pearson.
"There's still a great feel about the place and we've got a good group here.
"It would take a lot to knock the stuffing out of us – we've got a good spirit amongst us and a real fighting spirit as well.
"People wrote us off after four games and some are writing us off again. So we're determined to prove people wrong and make sure we're up there at the end of the season.
"Football can change so quickly. It wasn't long ago that it was a 'two-horse race' between us and Wrexham.
"So you just never know – you win two or three on the spin and the situation is completely different.
"Hopefully we can get those results and put ourselves back in the frame quickly."
With 11 Conference games still to play before April 20, Pearson and his team-mates are prepared for a hectic run-in, with plenty of twists and turns to come.
And the defender insists the Mariners can take inspiration from their last two opponents – the division's form sides.
"You don't always consider the games left to play until you stop and think about it," he added.
"But we've got virtually a quarter of the season left – that's a long way to go and a lot of points to play for.
"It would be very surprising if Mansfield, who have won 12 out of 13, go on to win nine of the last ten. If they do, they deserve to go on and win the league!
"No doubt there will be a lot of points dropped between now and the end of the season by teams above us. It's down to us to take advantage of that.
"And there's no reason why we can't replicate the runs that they and Kidderminster have been on, and win nine or ten of our last 11 games. That would give us a great opportunity to win the league.
"So we've got to start with tomorrow against Cambridge and get back to winning ways immediately."
Pearson was part of the Town line-up which drew 0-0 with the Us at the end of January.
A dour encounter on a 'tricky' surface at the Abbey Stadium has perhaps already been forgotten by many of the 699 Mariners fans in attendance.
But not by Pearson himself – it was another clean sheet after all.
"I'd be surprised if tomorrow is not a similar encounter to when we played them last," he explained.
"They are a difficult side to break down and they've definitely improved since the turn of the year. It's down to us to get the right result.
"We've got a few injuries mounting up at the moment, so it's up to the lads in there and the ones coming in to perform and keep their shirts.
"If you play well here you tend to keep your place in the team.
"So it's down to us all to keep striving and pushing each other to get the best for the football club.
He continued: "Hopefully, we can carry on performance-wise where we left off on Tuesday because it was a decent display and one which deserved a better result.
"The rub of the green went against us at Mansfield, but at the same time you have to earn that little break and we've done that well across the season.
"We've certainly had worse performances than in the last two games and managed to pick up the three points.
"On Tuesday, in particular, we were missing that ruthlessness in both boxes.
"Tomorrow we have the opportunity to put that right."