Kris Hunter admitted he cannot explain the reason for Formartine’s recent struggles after a nervy 1-0 win over Deveronvale.
Calum Dingwall’s excellent volley settled what was ultimately another poor game at North Lodge Park.
The result keeps the side in with a slender chance of the title in fourth place.
But the manner of their last three performances – all 1-0 wins – have been disappointing compared to the freescoring Formartine of years gone by.
Hunter said results are the main focus but he conceded he would like to see more for them in attack.
He said: “You can see how frustrated I am and I said to the players they must be frustrated as well because there are a lot more to come from them and there’s a lot of quality.
“We all go through spells, and it’s not like the players aren’t trying.
“There’s no point in hiding the fact though, you have to be truthful in life and that’s what I’m doing with the players – they need to start showing their quality on the park.
“Once they do, they will start winning games a lot easier.”
Deveronvale had the ball in the net after five minutes but James McLaren’s effort was ruled out for offside.
Visiting keeper Grant Pennet denied Neil Gauld and Jamie Masson while Conor Gethins should have scored with a volley, instead pushing the ball wide.
But after 38 minutes, the hosts took the lead through Dingwall, who fired in from 12 yards on the volley after Vale’s defence failed to clear the ball.
Paul Sutherland saw Andrew Reid push away his dinked effort after a wonderful counter near the end of the first 45 minutes.
After the break, a misjudged defensive header by Jonathan Crawford was almost seized upon by McLaren, but his lob flew just over the bar.
Gethins almost doubled the home lead, rifling a shot in from 25 yards, which Pennet superbly tipped on to the crossbar.
Lewis Dunbar and the troublesome McLaren were both unlucky as good attempts flew just off target.
And in added time, Vale centre-back Lukas Krobot scuffed wide from 12 yards out with the final attack of the game.
“We just need to make the game easier for ourselves instead of hanging on,” Hunter said.
“If we kill games off, it makes things a wee bit easier.
“Defensively I thought it was good with Russell (McBride) and Johnny (Crawford) but in the last third we didn’t do enough.
“We didn’t test the goalie enough but one bit of quality leads to the goal and then later Pennet has made an unbelievable save to keep out Conor Gethins, but we should be doing more than that.
“A team with our attacking players should be threatening more often.”
The match was Formartine’s third in eight days, with one going to extra-time. Hunter acknowledged that has had an impact on the club’s performances, though he expects the side to be ready for Wednesday’s game at Clach.
“You can see there are a lot of tired bodies out there, we’ve played 300 minutes recently,” he said. Most teams do that in four weeks and we’ve done it in one.