FREMANTLE will go nowhere if it doesn't improve its football before September, coach Ross Lyon says.
The Dockers produced a stirring come-from-behind five-point win over Carlton at Patersons Stadium on Thursday night but it could so easily have slipped through their fingers.
They hit the front at the 22-minute mark of the last quarter, but relinquished the lead again through a Zac Dawson 50m penalty before Lachie Neale kicked the sealer in the last minute.
Lyon said his side has to improve dramatically over the next month if it is to contend for the premiership.
"That footy is going to take us nowhere," Lyon said.
"Clearly we've got plenty of work to do."
The Dockers were beaten comprehensively in the centre clearances for the first three quarters, although they arrested the momentum in the last.
Lyon was particularly frustrated at the scores conceded from the centre square stoppages and his side's turnovers in defensive 50.
"(Carlton) walked it out of the middle and kicked six goals for the night," Lyon said.
"I mean, it just shouldn't happen but it did. That's half their score.
"(We had) some terrible turnovers in our defensive 50. They hardly scored off turnover except in their forward 50.
"I think they kicked 3.2 from five turnovers. You turn it over in your defensive 50 and it's about a 90 per cent chance you're going to get scored against.
"That hasn't been our trademark but it's crept in the last three weeks. So we'll modify our ball use.
"All credit to them with their pressure but I just thought over-finessing and mucking around down there hurt us. Centre bounces hurt us. They were the main things."
The Dockers travel to Geelong next Saturday night to face the Cats in a critical match for both sides. The Dockers beat Geelong in last year's qualifying final at Simonds Stadium but Lyon was adamant that result has no relevance to next week's clash.
"I think it's irrelevant," Lyon said.
"Where we were at last year to this year are poles apart. I always say past results don't count for the next one.
"What's really important is we stay in the moment and we continue to prepare and try to improve.
"And we need to improve. It's pretty simple."