Darren Young laid bare East Fife's promotion hopes to his players ahead of Tuesday night's fixture at Alloa.
Lose, and the side would slip 12 points behind The Wasps and nine behind an Arbroath side which would have two games in hand.
With just seven games left to play, it would make it an almost impossible task to break back into the top four.
But a win at the Indordrill Stadium would see East Fife possibly move up into fifth and to within just six points of the third and fourth place sides .
And the East Fife players heeded the words of their manager as goals from Kevin Smith and Chris Duggan wrapped up a win in the central belt despite Garry Fleming's counter.
It's still advantage Alloa and Arbroath, but with three wins from their past three games, East Fife look set to take the fight to the death.
Young said: “We said to the players before the game that it was our cup final.
“It was laid on the line that if we won we'd cut the gap between Alloa and Arbroath down to six points and have an outside chance of the play-offs.
"It would make it three wins in a row and keep up the momentum.
"It was a great three points and a great performance.
"I'm delighted with the spirit and what the players gave me."
The first half won't live long in the memory with neither side really posing too much of a question of the other.
But things cracked into life after the break, and East Fife signaled their intent from the very start of the half with Mark Lamont going close.
It wouldn't take them too long to open the scoring, Kevin Smith firing beyond Neil Parry after The Wasps failed to clear Lamont's corner.
The lead didn't last long though, with Lamont penalised for a foul on Steven Hetherington inside the box.
Fleming stepped up and beat Ben MacKenzie.
But far from deflating the visitors the goal gave Young's side a shot in the arm and they went back onto the front foot.
Duggan nudged the Fifers ahead again with a stunning goal from 20 yards before Fleming was sent off, probably harshly, for a lunge on Smith.
Alloa forced pressure on the East Fife defence but to their credit they stood up well and ensured a massive three points going into Sunday's Fife derby with Raith Rovers.
Young added: “We’ll be up for that.
“It’s on ALBA TV as well and I have a few players now giving me headaches for positions and all wanting to start.
“It’s a great position to be in and maybe not a position we’ve been in all season with a full bench to pick from and nearly everyone fit.
“The guys who came in against Alloa all did well.”
Alloa - Parry, Taggart, Crane, Graham, McCart, Fleming, Cawley (Smith 73), Hetherington (Crossan 73), Stewart, Kirkpatrick, Flannigan (Renton 84).
Subs - Robertson, McKeown, Wilson.
East Fife - MacKenzie, Watson (Dunsmore 80), Allardice, Page, Livingstone, Thomson, Millar, McManus, Smith (Jones 73), Duggan, Lamont (Slattery 84) .
Subs - Goodfellow, Kane, Wilkie, Knox.
Ref - Steven Kirkland.