OPTIMISTIC boss Andy Preece is refusing to dismiss Worcester City's play-off chances in the wake of their Birmingham bruising.

Hopes of a top-five Nationwide North finish took a serious dent on Monday night as City slumped 2-0 to Moor Green at St George's Lane.

A surprise defeat to their Midlands rivals -- resulting from a limp, out-of-sorts display -- leaves Worcester trailing fifth-placed Harrogate by eight points and having also played two extra games.

With just nine matches remaining, another slip-up is likely to see City out of the running.

That could prove a tough ask with City scheduled to face Stalybridge Celtic twice -- plus Droylsden and Harrogate -- during their end-of-season run-in.

Player-manager Preece is under no illusions his side must return victories against those play-off contenders.

Until City's chances are mathematically impossible, Preece admits he will not give up the chase.

"Nothing is dead, but losing to Moor Green has made it very difficult," said Preece. "We've got to try and win all our games. That is all we can do from now until the end of the season.

"From our remaining matches, we probably need 23 or 24 points to give ourselves a realistic chance.

"So we are probably looking at winning eight and losing one, or winning seven and drawing two. It's that sort of scenario, although Droylsden have got some very, very tough games.

"They might struggle to get a lot of points.

"All along, I've always said we needed to beat Droylsden and Harrogate. We had to definitely beat one of them.

"Now we are going to have to win both Stalybridge games. Nothing else will do now. It's going to be tough, but we will keep going and keep having a go."

Preece was embroiled in an angry confrontation with a supporter after the defeat to Moors, an incident that left the 38-year-old considering ending his playing career.

The veteran striker defended his decision to replace captain Des Lyttle for himself mid-way through the second-half, insisting it was an attacking measure to try and scoop three points.

Preece added: "It seems so negative to leave three at the back against just one striker. Every time we go 4-3-3 in the reserves, it works really well.

"But in the first team, it hasn't worked. We still had all the pressure and Moor Green had nothing other than the late breakaway.

"It was disappointing. We did not get on the end of second balls or knock-downs. Lots of things happened in and around their penalty area, but we never got shots off."