Michael Duff described Cheltenham’s performance in the 0-0 home draw with Port Vale as their worst of the season.
But the Robins boss was pleased to pick up a point as a five-match winning streak was ended by a Vale side who hit the bar and had two penalty appeals turned down.
“I think that’s as bad as we’ve been all season,” Duff said.
“The difference is that we didn’t lose and that’s the positive.
“Give Port Vale credit because they are a good team, but we weren’t very good.
“We have just got a point to keep them seven points behind us, but we didn’t pass the ball at all and it didn’t look like us.
“We looked slow, lethargic and the centre forwards were starved of the ball all game.
“The sign of a decent team is that you can grind a result out and it’s another clean sheet.
“We’ve conceded 27 goals in 36 games and it keeps you in with a chance.
“We know we need to be much better than that. They are a good team, Port Vale, but we need to be better than that.”
Play-off hopefuls Vale were closest to breaking the deadlock in the 10th minute when Mark Cullen’s header from David Worrall’s cross rebounded off the bar with goalkeeper Owen Evans beaten.
Referee Scott Duncan pointed to the penalty spot in the 42nd minute after a challenge from ex-Vale defender Charlie Raglan on Mitch Clark.
But after consulting with his assistant on the far side of the pitch, he overturned the decision and the away side had to settle for a corner.
Cheltenham had threatened in the 11th minute when Alfie May lifted the ball over Scott Brown, but Leon Legge cleared off the line with Reuben Reid waiting to pounce.
Vale looked the more likely winners in the second half with Evans saving low to his left from Cullen after David Amoo’s centre and Amoo went close himself in the 64th minute, firing just wide after Tom Conlon’s pass.
John Askey’s men also had another penalty appeal turned down after an hour when Conlon was challenged in the box, but they extended their unbeaten run to eight.
Askey felt both spot kicks should have been awarded.
“The linesman is 60 yards away looking through bodies (for the first one) and the ref is on top of it,” he said.
“I’m sure he reacted to the pressure their players put him under.
“We had a claim in the second half as well when Tom Conlon was kicked twice before going down.
“We played good football and they struggled to get out of their own half.
“We were excellent today. We’ve played really well and haven’t got what we deserved.
“If we carry on playing like that we’re definitely going to win games before the end of the season.”