Manager Lee Sinnott cut a frustrated figure as Gainsborough Trinity’s automatic promotion hopes were hit by an unexpected home draw.
Trinity, who remained unbeaten throughout January, were pegged back after taking the lead against lowly Stafford Rangers and had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
It left them sixth in the Evo-Stik League, 10 points adrift of leaders South Shields.
Sinnott said: “We started sluggishly and, of course, it is frustrating. We never really got out of that all afternoon.
“We had a couple of opportunites for a second goal, but so did Stafford (who hit the post).
“A draw was probably a fair outcome, although it was frustraing as we are capable of more.
“I have said since I have been here that the first 15 or 20 minutes are key. It shows the opposition what you are about and if you are playing on the front foot.
“I don’t think we got out of second, and definitely not third, gear.”
Ashley Worsfold fired Trinity into the lead five minutes before half-time. A good long ball from Alex Byrne found Will Longbottom, whose cross was headed in by Worsfold. But just four minutes later Neil Austin fouled Lewis Banks inside the area and Joshua Green levelled from the spot.
Sinnott added: “I am not happy about dropping the two points but one point is better than nothing — although I consider it two points dropped.”
The manager praised the quality of Trinity’s goal, and admitted he would have wanted a penalty for the challenge that led to Stafford’s equaliser.
“It was a beautiful move. It was a wonderful ball from Alex (Byrne) like an arrow to Will (Longbottom).
“Will has done what we have asked him to. He has been aggressive, taking on the full back, and has put a wonderful ball in right on Ash’s head. Ash (Worsfold) has risen heighest to put the ball in.
“But it summed up our afternoon that just a few minutes later we switched off and it culminated in a penalty against us.
“Our concentration switched off a little bit. Players got in behind and we were ball watching. We were not totaklly in the zone.”
Sinnott admitted the first half performance was sub-standard and said he was disappointed Trinity could not go on to pick up another win.
“We are no different to anyone else up there (towards the top of the table),” he added.
“When you drop points it is annoying. Sometimes it doesn’t click. But let’s give credit to Stafford.”
On Saturday Trinity entertain third-placed Warrington — a clash between the sides with the best defensive records in the league.
Trinity have signed a third player on loan from League One side Doncaster Rovers.
A week after the arrival of Max Watters, forward- thinking Will Longbottom has signed, initially on a month’s loan.
Longbottom, 20, who made his first-team debut for Rovers as a second half substitute in May 2016, scored his first senior goal in the EFL Cup later that same year.
Sinnott said: “We have observed Will (Longbottom) over the same period of time as Max (Watters).
“We needed a little injection with the unavailability of Alex Simmons and Ross Hannah and are delighted to have Will on board.”