Crewe boss David Artell was frustrated by his side’s performance in their 1-0 local derby defeat away at Port Vale.
Tom Pope’s 78th-minute winner earned John Askey’s Valiants all three points as they secured their second straight League Two victory.
Artell feels his players did not turn up when it mattered.
He said: “The performance matched the result.
“Yes, it was a bobbly, tricky pitch, yeah, they were always going to be a bit more direct from us, but we didn’t half help them.
“You can’t say there was one team playing better football or anything like that but there was one team making better decisions and that wasn’t us.
“I told them at half-time we can come here, it’s a derby, settle down and play your football but we struggled.
“I said on the bus on the way in, there are big games and there are big games.
“If it was top versus second and it was a full house, I’m not trying to diminish this game because it’s an important game for everyone but there can be more on it, we are mid-table and they are just behind us. It is a big game but there’s levels within that.”
First-half chances at goal fell for both sides on a sun-kissed Staffordshire afternoon with Alex goalkeeper Ben Garratt keeping out efforts from Tom Conlon and Antony Kay early on.
Crewe forward Jordan Bowery then had an attempt cleared off the line by Vale defender Nathan Smith having profited from Chris Porter’s flick-on following a free-kick.
Vale’s late winner came through their talismanic captain, substitute Pope who reacted first from Cristian Montano’s driven pass from the left in a crowded penalty box to swivel his powerful left-footed strike into the top left-corner.
Port Vale manager Askey was delighted with his men and their display as they moved 10 points above the relegation zone.
Askey said: “The pleasing thing was how well we played, I thought it should have been four or five really.
“We played really well and created a lot of chances and to do it when we are in the position we are in, the players have been fantastic in the past seven games to do what they have done and full credit to them.
“I’m really pleased for everybody, they really got behind the players again and I’ll enjoy tonight.
“I feel that the turning point was after the Cheltenham game, and me as a manager, I can’t ask for more from my players and if we work like that, our supporters will know that we will win games if you put that sort of effort in.
“You want it so much for the people that come and support you, so to come away with a 1-0 win is as pleasing as it can be.”