By Tony Leighton
When Blackburn Rovers manager Gary Bowyer issued a 'keep calm and carry on' message following his team's worst run of the season last month, few believed that they would be able to revive their Sky Bet Championship Play-Off hopes.
"There's no need to panic or anything daft like that," insisted Bowyer after three successive defeats had seen Blackburn drop to nine points below the top six with just 12 games of the season left to play.
"Until it's mathematically impossible," added the manager, "you keep striving to get as high as you can and hopefully into the Play-Offs."
Now that "hopefully" might just become reality after a 10-match unbeaten run has lifted Rovers to within two points of the Play-Off spots with two games left.
They are 10th in the table after Easter Monday's 4-2 win at Birmingham City and will almost certainly have to win their last two games, against Charlton Athletic and Wigan Athletic, while hoping that teams above them slip up.
But Bowyer said: "We now go into the Charlton game with something to play for. We said before the game against Birmingham that it was all about keeping our season alive, and that is what we've done.
"All we can do is focus on our performances and what we can control. After our result last Friday [a goalless draw with bottom club Yeovil Town] people had us written off and said that was the end of the Play-Offs for us.
"All we said is that the Championship has got twists. Even with two games left there are going to be twists - even with two minutes to go on the final day of the season there are going to be twists."
Bowyer, his team and the Rovers fans will hope that the twists go in their favour in a race for the lowest of the Play-Off places that looks set to go to the wire.
It is certainly a more exciting prospect than the closing stages of last season, when relegation looked a distinct possibility until a run of three wins and two draws in their last six games lifted them out of the drop zone.
Bowyer said: "This time last year when we came to Birmingham [on the final day of the season] we had just escaped relegation, so we've made progress.
"But there is still a long way to go. The hard work the players have put in all season is beginning to pay off, but we are not going to get carried away."
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