Tom Pope believes that there is enough quality in the squad to turn their recent form around and pull away from danger in Sky Bet League Two, but he was left rueing missed opportunities as Vale slipped to defeat at home to Morecambe on Saturday.
Despite the Valiants looking the more threatening of the two sides for most of the game, a 75th-minute Aaron Collins strike proved to be the decider and it was the visitors who were left celebrating upon the full-time whistle.
Pope saw a penalty saved by Mark Halstead midway through the first half and the Morecambe goalkeeper was in inspired form to preserve his clean sheet, but the Vale captain insists he and his teammates need to do more to convert opportunities.
He said: “I knew at half-time that with the chances we had, we needed the first goal because of the way Morecambe sat in to kill the game. That’s what they do, and it makes it difficult for their opponents to get into any kind of rhythm.
“We started the second half brightly again and it looked as if we’d score, but then they sucker-punched us at the end. You can say what you want, but we as strikers have got to put the ball in the net with the chances we’ve had.
“If we keep creating those opportunities we should be fine. I’ve had some chances today that I’d normally back myself to put away, but I haven’t.
“We’ve more than got enough in the squad to start winning and the last two games have shown that. We had four or five great chances against Cambridge and we’ve restricted Morecambe to a couple of openings today, but we’ve been countered at the end.
“We do have enough, but we can’t keep saying that. It’s up to us to start putting it together to make sure we get the wins needed.
“The gap is closing and we’ve been quite lucky that Macclesfield and Notts County were so far behind because that gave us enough breathing space to cope with a blip, but now we’re running out of games."
The Valiants now face Tranmere Rovers in what will be John Askey's second game in charge at Vale Park, and Pope insists the supporters can play a massive part in transforming the fortunes out on the pitch.
Whilst he expects a difficult test against Micky Mellon's men who are chasing down a play-off place, the striker believes the way Rovers set up could work in Vale's favour.
He also believes there were plenty of positives to take from the defeat to Morecambe, and he highlighted the performance of James Gibbons to epitomise the work rate that is needed between now and the end of the season.
He said: “Gibbo was superb, and he bombed forward all game, but I thought we had a lot of energy. We never stopped running, but it’s all about getting three points – we can’t keep saying we are playing well and picking up nothing.
“Playing against Morecambe at home, it’s a game where you would’ve fancied us to get three points, yet we got nothing. These are the games where even if you’re dominating, you make sure you keep a clean sheet to get a point out of it.
“TThey came here in a 4-5-1 and they just dropped deep, and with so many bodies around you, it becomes difficult to get any space and you’re wrestling with two or three defenders every time the ball comes near you.
"Tranmere aren’t a bad side and they were better than us at their place, but hopefully they will come here to try and attack us because that will play into our hands.
“Our fans were great and they were right behind us from the first whistle.
"When we’re struggling, we need everybody together and I just hope that on Tuesday we can get that first goal to keep them on our side.”