AFter a week where it has been a case of one step forward and then one step back for Hull City, defender James Chester insists the play-offs are still within the club’s grasp.
The Tigers followed up last Saturday’s stunning win at Nottingham Forest – a result that ended the home side’s 36-game unbeaten run at the City Ground – with a desperately disappointing 1-0 defeat to play-off chasing rivals Burnley at the Kingston Communications Stadium in midweek.
Losing at home to one of the sides also chasing a place in the top six was a big blow for City, who, as a result of the setback, are seven points adrift of Forest in the final play-off place.
With 10 games to go, it is not an insurmountable gap to bridge for a Hull team that has lost just three of their last 22 league outings.
For Chester, the key is forgetting all about the recent setbacks against Burnley and Cardiff City.
The former Manchester United defender said: “Dwelling on things never does any good so we are now ready to go again.
“We have got a big game (at Coventry) and if we can win that, with other results going our way, things will look better.
“We go to Coventry knowing it is going to be a difficult game but our away form shows that we are difficult to beat on the road. I am sure the fans will go down there in numbers, just like they did at Forest last weekend when they really helped us through the last 15 minutes.
“I am sure they will do the same at Coventry.”
An illustration of the task facing City comes with a look back three years to the season when the East Riding club went on to clinch promotion via the play-offs.
With 10 games remaining, Phil Brown’s Hull occupied the final play-off place on 56 points. They went on to claim 19 points during the run-in and finish third in the table.
Of the other five teams that either went up automatically or finished in the play-offs in 2007-08, all but one were already occupying a place in the top six at this stage of the season.
Only Palace, who were sitting ninth with 10 games to go, were able to make a late burst – and, even then, they only had a three-point margin to make up.
Likewise, last season, only Blackpool of the final top six were outside the play-off berths after the second week of March. Ian Holloway’s men, who were sitting seventh and two points adrift, went on to clinch promotion by beating Cardiff City at Wembley.