DARREN Crocker admits North Melbourne is running out of chances to keep its finals ambitions alive, saying "we shot ourselves in the foot" in the 16-point loss to the Sydney Swans on Saturday night.
The Roos got their campaign on track with a gritty win over West Coast in Hobart last round, but again slipped behind the win-loss ledger to 5-6 following the loss at Etihad Stadium.
Crocker said the 12th-placed Roos "more than matched" the Swans – who belted them by 71 points in last year's preliminary final – for three quarters, but his outfit was blown away in a five-goal-to-one second term.
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"Turnovers just killed us, their first six goals of the game came from our turnovers, giving the ball back to them," Crocker said post-match.
"You always know with Sydney they're going to come after you and their pressure's going to be pretty high.
"But you've got to be able to absorb that pressure and for the most part we did, but just for that period of time we just coughed the ball up too much."
Crocker believed his side went into their shells when they conceded 22 inside 50s to five for the second quarter, and despite the best efforts of star ruckman Todd Goldstein - plus midfielders Ben Cunnington, Andrew Swallow, Jack Ziebell and Brent Harvey – the Roos could never hit the lead as they succumbed to the Swans for the ninth time in 11 meetings.
"(Goldstein's) form's been terrific for the whole year, giving our midfielders first opportunity at ground level," Crocker said.
"To win the clearances (43-27) so convincingly and then still not come away with a win goes to show we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit."
The match was again marred by booing of Swans champion Adam Goodes (three goals), despite pleas from Jack Ziebell and Crocker to show the dual Brownlow medallist respect.
"Perhaps the more we talk about it, the more it's going to rear its ugly head," Crocker said.
"I think Adam's probably sick of it as well. Jack and I said we'd be disappointed if our fans didn't respect Adam Goodes, if that's the case it is disappointing."
WATCH: Darren Crocker's full press conference here
North has now lost three of its past four matches, with Crocker saying next Saturday's clash with Greater Western Sydney is a "really, really crucial game for us".
"Before last week's game against West Coast I mentioned that the season was on a knife's edge and every time you drop one like this it comes back to that state. We need to bounce back strongly and get a win against GWS," he said.
Crocker said Nick Dal Santo "is raring to go" for his return from a long hamstring lay-off, but Daniel Wells remains indefinite and could still be a month away at least.
"They're talking maybe four-to-five weeks, but we can't actually really confirm that at this stage. I think we'll definitely get him back at some stage (this season)."
Darren Crocker was unimpressed with Roos fans booing Adam Goodes. Picture: AFL Media