Port Vale boss Darrell Clarke bemoaned his side’s lack of quality as his first home game in charge ended in a goalless draw.
The Valiants were held by fellow Sky Bet League Two strugglers Stevenage and mustered few chances on a night where both goalkeepers were relatively untested.
Vale have won just one in six and Clarke’s opening two games have ended in stalemates.
Clarke said: “The quality was shocking at times but the effort and commitment was excellent.
“This was nowhere near where I’m going to take this football club so let’s not paper over those cracks, but we made a solid start by keeping a clean sheet.
“We kept giving the ball away and it was panicky and rushed and that’s what sometimes can happen with a lack of confidence when a manager is quite demanding.
“I want the boys to have the freedom to play in the right areas and we got in some decent areas where the final pass let us down.
“But be fair to the lads, we’re playing a new system which was played to strengthen us defensively and we defended set-pieces better.
“There is plenty of work to do with eight or nine on the injury table as well.
“We’re fighting and scrapping in these last 16 games to get as many results as we possibly can.”
Stevenage came closest to scoring through Joe Martin’s free-kick that drifted agonisingly wide in the first half.
Lively Birmingham loanee Remeao Hutton’s cross was almost diverted into his own net by Vale defender Nathan Smith as the visitors targeted a winner.
But they were fortunate when Vale substitute Scott Burgess struck a beautiful volley just wide in the final stages.
Stevenage manager Alex Revell said: “I think after the first half, we were disappointed not to be going in at half-time with a goal but it was tougher in the second half.
“The players ran out of steam towards the end of the game but this is always a tough place to come and to get a point would usually be good, but with our dominance we should have taken more chances.
“The players’ energy and commitment defensively right to the end was excellent.
“We had more shots but we didn’t test the keeper enough and we were level with shots on target.
“We got into some fantastic positions but overall, you would have to say it’s a fair result.
“We just wanted those bits of quality to improve in the final third as this is where we need to start doing better.
“They were very direct and it was tough work so we lost a bit of control and we didn’t manage just well enough to get the win.”
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