Sean Ward insists there is “no room for error” as Linfield prepare to continue their Danske Bank Premiership assault at Solitude on Saturday afternoon.
The Blues cut the gap to Crusaders to five points with last week’s derby victory over Glentoran.
While David Healy’s men were easing to a 3-0 win over the Glens, the champions were being held to a scoreless draw by Ballymena United.
The Crues can still boast a game in hand as they approach the final furlongs of this season’s title race.
And Ward accepts time is running out for Linfield to usurp their Belfast rivals.
“We know it is out of our hands – Crusaders remain in the box seat. But we are going to keep fighting to the very end,” the versatile defender said.
“We have no room for error, and we just have to make sure we keep on picking up points.
“If we can close the gap a little but further, then the pressure will mount on Crusaders. And we have the split to come.”
Crusaders meet basement battlers Carrick Rangers on Saturday, while Linfield will face the massive challenge of Cliftonville at Solitude.
The Reds – who sit third in the table – will be smarting from their Irish Cup defeat to the Blues two weeks ago.
Gerard Lyttle’s side slumped to a 3-0 defeat and had goalkeeper Conor Devlin and defender Caoimhin Bonner sent off late in the game.
“We don’t have a great record up at Solitude, but that cup win will give us some confidence,” Ward added.
“I am not sure if Cliftonville will be out for revenge or anything like that.
“Sometimes teams dwell on previous results, so they might want to put things right on Saturday.
“We just need to stay focused and try and put in a similar performance and get a similar result.”
Ward lifted the Premiership title with Glentoran in 2005 and ‘09 and admits it would be a dream to win the Gibson Cup with Linfield.
“I would love to win it every season, but it’s never as simple as that,” the 32-year-old laughed.
“I believe that winning the title with Linfield is more difficult, because every team in this league wants to beat us.
“Every team that beats us celebrates like they have won the league. We are a big scalp.
“Crusaders have discovered something similar this season.
“When you win the league you become public enemy number one.”