JOHN Coleman is urging his Accrington Stanley players to keep their play-offs dream alive.

The Reds have been particularly inconsistent since the turn of the year but continue to flirt with the top six thanks to their ability to respond well to recent setbacks.

After defeat at home to tomorrow's opponents Sunderland registered a three-game losing streak, Stanley recovered to beat Wigan Athletic 3-1. A 7-0 thrashing at Peterborough was followed by a goalless draw with Burton, as was the 5-1 home defeat to AFC Wimbledon, while they responded to last weekend's defeat at struggling Rochdale by beating Doncaster 2-1 at home in midweek.

They head to the Stadium of Light in 12th place, five points off the top six on 61 points with four games to play.

And Coleman feels that if they win them all, 73 points will be enough to secure a play-off spot.

“We are the masters of the bounce back but it’s so frustrating,” said the Stanley boss, who joked they could do with losing a friendly before facing Sunderland "then we can bounce back from that."

He added: “We had 26 shots against Doncaster and you scratch your heads why we couldn’t do that against Rochdale and Wimbledon and that’s no disrespect to those two teams because they were better than us on the day.

“But we have shown time and time again we have got the players who can be better than most teams in this league, so it is frustrating but we go again on Saturday and we see where it takes us.

“We've got to play four teams who are above us, if you beat them all you are going to do some serious damage to them. I wouldn’t be surprised if 73 points got you into the play-offs this year.

"The state we're in now it's like we're in The Cube and we're on our last life. We can't have another slip-up. If we can win the next four we've got a chance of getting into the play-offs. If we don't win any one of them that's probably us cooked.

"People have won on The Cube on their last life.

“No one should feel out of contention until they are actually out of contention because it’s been such a strange season. I think that will continue, there will still be twists and turns in the next two or three weeks. You just have to hope you are at the end of one of the twists."

And Coleman, who expects to have Joe Pritchard available after an injury setback, says both he and the players are ready to throw caution to the wind in the remaining games.

"We've got everything to gain," said the Reds chief, who insists the players are up for the challenge.

"The lads were talking about it before the game on Tuesday and again afterwards. That's still got to be our goal. Why not?

"But we just have to focus on the next game, and you can't be in contention if you don't win that game.

"You can't win the last four unless you win the first one, so go and see where it takes us."