Vale ended the year with a home defeat on Saturday afternoon as Oldham Athletic ran out as victors at Vale Park, and Ben Whitfield was frustrated with the second-half performance with ultimately cost them the game.
After falling behind, the midfielder scored an equaliser that ensured the Valiants went into the break with the game all square, and he believed that the three points were there for the taking.
However, goals from Mohamed Maouche, Gevaro Nepomuceno and Chris O'Grady in the final 45 minutes saw off Neil Aspin’s men, and Whitfield insists that he and his teammates need to do more to finish teams off.
He said: “It’s very disappointing. To go into half-time at 1-1 was a bit harsh and it wasn’t a fair reflection on our performance in the first half because we played some football.
“However, when we’re on top in games, we’ve got to score some goals and put it to bed. We had a good spell where we could’ve been two or three up, but for whatever reason it didn’t happen.
“We then got it back level and that put it into a position where it could be anyone’s game, but to concede three goals after that is very disappointing.
“I don’t think we played like we should’ve done in the second half and we kept shelling the ball up to Tom (Pope), even when we needed to relax and play some football.
“When we hit the channels during the first half their right-back and centre-back were on yellow cards, and if we’d have used that to our advantage, you never know what could’ve happened.
“We didn’t do that and then we found ourselves 2-1 down after a scrappy goal, then the other goals followed and it wasn’t nice at all.”
With a quick turnaround now before the trip to high-flying Lincoln City on New Year’s Day, Whitfield is eager to put the defeat behind him and focus solely on what will be another very difficult game for Vale.
The Imps came out on top when the two sides last met in Sky Bet League Two, scoring six goals in the process. Despite that, Whitfield believes that Vale can get something from the match, but knows he and his teammates must be at their best.
“It’s never easy losing a football game and everybody is upset, but we can’t dwell on it because we’ve got a massive game on Tuesday against the league leaders,” Whitfield said.
“We’ve got to come out fighting for that one and we need a response. We need to go there and put in a performance, not only for ourselves, but the gaffer and the fans as well.
“When we had the heavy defeat at home to Lincoln we turned it around and we have to do the same again. I know we’re playing a top side, but if we go there with no fear, there’s no reason why we can’t get something from it.
“It’s been a frustrating few weeks for me, but I thought I came on during the Boxing Day match and did well. Today I grabbed a goal and did okay, so I’m just glad to be back in the starting eleven.”