Essendon coach Mark Thompson is confident his AFL finals chasing side can quickly bounce back following their 22-point loss to pacesetter Sydney.
The result at the SCG offered hope to the three teams immediately below the seventh-placed Bombers, with the possibility of a massive logjam at the lower end of the eight come Sunday night.
If the three teams immediately below Essendon, Adelaide, Collingwood and Gold Coast each win their respective home match, they will join Essendon on 40 points.
The laconic Thompson was surprisingly upbeat on Friday after the defeat by the Swans, which he thought probably should have been by a larger margin.
Sydney never trailed after leaving the slow starting Bombers on the blocks and led by 26 at the first break.
From that point on however, Essendon went blow-for-blow with the flag favourites kicking seven goals to six over the last three quarters.
They slashed a 28-point halftime deficit to ten in the third quarter after kicking the first three goals of that term and Sydney only pulled away in the closing minutes of the match.
“I haven’t lost too much (confidence) tonight, because there’s no shame in losing to Sydney up here,” Thompson said, following Essendon’s first defeat in four matches.
“We’ve got four matches to go and we have to play well.
“But I believe we can get back into some good form really quickly.”
Asked if Essendon’s destiny remained in their own hands, a playful Thompson said: “Yes, don’t make me out to be so pessimistic, I’m not.
“I’m OK, It’s only a loss to Sydney, There’s no shame in that.
“We’ve got four weeks to go, and we’re going to skip them back up.
“We’ll do some good twining, which we need to do, in areas that we need to improve and we’ll improve
“There’s no doubts from here. Don’t write that we’re not confident.”
Thompson felt it was more a case of Essendon needing to perform for four quarters rather than having to address any structural defect.
“We played some really good foot, but you can’t just do it for a quarter, a quarter and a half, two quarters,” Thompson said.
“You’ve got to be ready to do that at the start of the game.”
He enjoyed watching his 392-game 39-year-old defender Dustin Fletcher, play on 20-year-old Sydney debutant Tim Membrey, a late replacement for the injured Lance Franklin.
“It’s a good thing to see for footy, he wouldn’t have been born when Dustin was already playing,”Thompson said.