Middlesbrough were sentenced to another home defeat against Sheffield Wednesday, as their barren run at the Riverside Stadium continues.
Ex-Boro academy prospect Adam Reach netted the game's decisive goal in the first-half, with Tony Pulis's side unable to capitalise on a dominant second half performance.
Once again, Middlesbrough were left to rue missed chances as Pulis urged his side to continue believing despite a disappointing run of form.
The Teessiders have not won on home soil since November 10, and have lost plenty of ground in the promotion race - as pace-setters Leeds and Norwich continue to pick up positive results.
But Pulis still believes that his side can catch the pair and seal a return to the top flight, provided they show plenty of spirit and commitment in the coming weeks.
He believes such attributes will be key as the North East side aim to overcome a nine-point gap between themselves and the top two.
Speaking after the Wednesday defeat, the Boro boss said: "I thought we started quite bright, some good movement and got plenty of crosses that we wanted into the box in the first ten minutes.
"But from their first shot they score and the disappointing thing from that point was that we looked as though we lost a bit of confidence within ourselves.
“We had a good chat with them at half-time and when things aren’t going well, we need to see that spirit and that commitment.
“I’ve been in this position lots of times and you look at the ones who show a bit of character, they might makes mistakes but they still want the ball.
“Second half we huffed and puffed again and I don’t think Darren (Randolph) had a shot to save.
"But it’s important that the players in the dressing room keep going and keep believing.”
The festive fixture programme gives Boro an immediate chance to bounce back, with Ipswich visiting the North East in the just three days' time.
And defender Aiden Flint has called on his side to bounce back and end their disappointing run on home soil.
"We’ve got another game Saturday and we’ll work hard to get it right then," he said.
"We’ve got to try and go into the game and start it how we’ve started today, and hopefully finish it that way as well.
“The beliefs always been there, it’s just getting that win at home and getting the monkey off our backs in a way,"