Neil Aspin was delighted with the application of his Port Vale side as they picked up an impressive point away to high-flying Wycombe Wanderers in Sky Bet League Two on Saturday afternoon.
In what was a well contested game at Adams Park, both sides created chances to win it but neither of them were able to break the deadlock. Tyrone Barnett went closest for Vale during the second half, but they had to settle for a draw.
Defensively, the Valiants were exceptional at dealing with the physical presence of Adebayo Akinfenwa, but the gaffer reserved special praise for Nathan Smith after the centre-back made his 100th consecutive start in a Vale shirt - quite an incredible statistic.
"I thought Nathan did really well today, it was his 100th appearance in a row, but he played brilliantly against a tough opponent," he said.
"If your centre-halves get bullied then you will lose games here, there is no doubt about that because they play a lot of balls forward to Akinfenwa and he is a handful who has scored a lot of goals this season.
"You need your central defenders and goalkeeper to do well, then you need the full-backs to do their jobs and I thought they did. It was a team effort out there, but praise to Cristian Montano at left-back too because I was on his side in the second half and he has done really well.
"I'm pleased with the players and over the last two games we could've taken more points, but although we all know we need the win, a draw away to Wycombe is a good one and it's not points dropped.
"You know you've got to battle here, defending corners and set pieces to make sure you compete, and I thought the players did that. We needed 11 players to work hard in order to get any kind of result.
"The performance was good. We got pushed back late on in the second half as you would expect, but I'm happy with the efforts of the players and they've got to now turn these two performances over the last week into a win next week."
Aspin only had one criticism of his team and that was the fact they did not crete too many clear-cut opportunities, but he believes there are plenty of positives to take into the Good Friday fixture at home to Chesterfield.
With Crewe Alexandra to come just a few days after that one too, the manager is under no illusions that this is a crucial stage in the season, but he is confident that Vale can pick up some more points over the Easter period.
He said: "The one thing you could say is that we haven't done enough to make chances, but I'm pleased with the way in which we defended. Ryan Boot has done well as well to keep a clean sheet which is good for him, so we can build on this and take it into the next week.
"With whatever run we are on or how many points we have got, we always knew that these two games were going to be massive.
"Crewe are a local team so there is a lot of rivalry are regardless of positions in the table, and we all know the importance of the Chesterfield game. We have got to work hard and we need a little bit more quality, and if we get both, we can get the results."