Neil Aspin was left to rue some costly individual errors on Saturday afternoon as his Vale side fell to defeat away to Cheltenham Town in Sky Bet League Two.
With Tom Pope scoring from the penalty spot on 36 minutes to cancel out Mohamed Eisa’s opener, the Valiants would have been hoping to build upon that.
However, despite the eventual scoreline, Aspin believes his team were more than a match for Cheltenham in patches, meaning the manner of the goals conceded were even more frustrating.
“You can’t gloss over it. It’s very disappointing given the way we started the game and the second half - there’s no way you could’ve seen that scoreline coming,” he said.
“It’s disappointing for a 20-minute spell, we weren’t at the races, we were overrun in that period and there’s no excuse for that.
“I can’t defend the players for that part of the game, but I thought we started well. In the first half we should’ve been in front.
“We were behind because we made two errors, and then we’ve made another one for the third girl which really killed the game for us and the fourth goal is a mistake as well.
“It’s a catalogue of individual errors and we’ve been punished. I can’t stand here and say anything positive, we’ve just got to get on with Tuesday and we need to be a lot better to get a result.”
Vale are back on home soil for a midweek fixture against Exeter City, and with an unbeaten league record at Vale Park that stretches back to November, Aspin is hoping for a reaction.
He said: “The next game has got to be better, but we can’t afford to defend like that. From any level of football, you know that if you’re giving away four goals you have no chance of winning the game.
“We’ve shot ourselves in the foot and got punished. The only positive is that it will cost you three points whether you lose 2-1 or 5-1, but we’ve got a lot of work to do from now until the end of the season.
“If you’re scrapping for your lives you’ve got to be picking up points at home, it’s always difficult on your travels, but you must be earning results at home.
“The crowd will play a factor but the players have got to get them on our side and the only way they can do that is by showing the necessary effort and commitment - that is a must for Tuesday night.”