MARK Yates was left "shell-shocked" after Cheltenham Town failed to finish off Port Vale at the Abbey Business Stadium.
But the Robins boss was full of praise for his players after the 1-1 draw which saw them remain third in the League Two table ahead of Friday's visit to Rochdale.
"I thought we'd won it and I can't believe we didn't," Yates said. "Their keeper made a couple of great saves and we were excellent.
"They are a really good side with some big, strong lads and you can see that.
"You don't always get what you deserve and we have to make sure we go to Rochdale and get three points now.
"I am delighted with the performance because we created a number of chances and kept going until the 93rd minute, I am just shell-shocked we haven't won the game."
Substitute Darryl Duffy looked certain to score a late winner for the second Saturday in succession following his heroics at Northampton, but his scuffed effort was cleared off the line, with Yates looking on in disbelief.
"I was up celebrating because I fully expected Darryl to stroke it into the net, because we know how good he is," Yates said.
"But we don't blame anyone for missing chances here because they have to be brave enough to get into the positions and that's the most important thing."
The way Cheltenham bossed most of the match against a team who have been in the automatic promotion places all season confirmed what Yates already firmly believed: they are capable of matching anyone in League Two.
"I am more than happy with the performance against a side who have been there all season," Yates said.
"I think everyone knows we can match anyone in this league and it's just a case of doing it now."
Yates picked Marlon Pack ahead of Jermaine McGlashan, who was a doubt until the day before the game after being battered and bruised in the FA Cup win at Hereford last Tuesday.
Kaid Mohamed missed out with an ankle knock picked up in the same match, but both wide men are expected to be fit for the visit to Spotland.
"Jermaine got smashed on Tuesday and I didn't know if he was going to be fit so I planned without him," Yates said.
"I thought Marlon was back to his best and when I make changes I am not leaving people out, I am using the squad we have got.
"We have learned from last season and we will take people out when they need a rest.
"I feel for the players who can't get on the pitch at the moment, but their time will come and we have got to have a squad. I am delighted with what we have."
â Cheltenham Town's Under-18s will face Tottenham Hotspur's Under-18s at the Abbey Business Stadium tomorrow night (7pm) in the third round of the FA Youth Cup.