Nathan Smith admits that Vale were the masters of their own downfall as they fell to a home defeat to Colchester United on Saturday afternoon, and the defender was frustrated with the slow start.
The Valiants fell a goal behind after just five minutes as Courtney Senior found the net, but the task was made even more difficult when Harry Pell's deflected effort beat Scott Brown on 18 minutes.
Despite then having the better of the chances in the remainder of the first half, Vale were unable to find a breakthrough as Ben Whitfield and Luke Joyce both came inches away from scoring, but Smith acknowledges he and his teammates need to be harder to beat.
He said: “We came out of the blocks really slowly and they punished us for that through two lucky deflections and a set piece, and from that moment onwards we were climbing a mountain to get back into the game.
“Their goalkeeper pulled off a few good saves and a few things didn’t go our way in front of goal, but it wasn’t our day. As a team we have to go out and be hard to beat, but we weren’t today, especially in the first 20 minutes.
“Perhaps we do need to score more of the chances that we do create, but as a defender, you’ve got to go out thinking you’re solid to get the clean sheet first and foremost.
“To concede three goals in a game home or away, it’s always disappointing. They perhaps had a few more chances early on and they hit the bar as well, but we need to cut teams down to minimal opportunities, especially at home."
Although the defender admits Vale knew they were going to be in for a tough afternoon against a side pushing for promotion out of Sky Bet League Two, he was disappointed that the squad were unable to build on a positive start to 2019.
Neil Aspin's men will now head to Crawley Town looking to put things right by securing their first win of the year next weekend, but Smith insists he and his teammates need to worry about their own performances rather than getting caught up in the opposition.
He said: “Anyone in this league can be a good side on their day, but Colchester showed that they were a very good team when we played them away, so were expecting a tough game again this time around.
“We need to better ourselves, it’s not about other teams. Results show this season that we are favouring away games even if it isn’t how the players are thinking, but any set of three points coming our way would be much appreciated.
“Crawley lost as well today so we are both going into it on the back of defeats, so hopefully it’s us who can come away from there with a victory.”