Ryan Lowe felt his side’s performance against Bristol City was “nowhere near the level of expectation”.
PNE were beaten 2-1 at Ashton Gate, ending their unbeaten start to the Championship campaign away from home.
It looked as though Andrew Hughes had earned North End a point when he slammed home in the 82nd minute, but a 90th-minute Rob Atkinson header won the game for the Robins.
Speaking to iFollow PNE, Ryan said: “I don’t think the late goal has cost us, I think the performance has cost us to be honest with you.
“It is disappointing for us all round. I felt the first half, we got away with one or two in terms of them creating opportunities, but we were nowhere near the level of expectation.
“Without making any excuses, it’s probably a game too far for us to go Saturday away at Norwich and to come here on Wednesday, and do what we’ve done today to try to get three points, bear in mind we nearly had a point.
“I’m thinking we can have that point and see it through, but we just couldn’t do it towards the end.
“The lad has scored a free header from the back post, three yards out, that can’t happen.”
Despite being disappointed with the performance of his side, the manager felt they could have left Ashton Gate with a point once Hughes had levelled for his side just eight minutes from time.
“I’m thinking ‘just take a point, see it through’,” he added.
“I can’t remember the [second] goal, we’ll have to look at it back when we get on the bus, but we’re attacking one end and then the ball ends up down the other end and we end up giving a corner away. Can we clear it a bit better?
“I’m not too sure how it’s gone in, I’ll have to look at it back, but we’ve got to defend it better.
“Then you maybe see it through and we’d have been absolutely over the moon with a point, after the week we’ve had.
“But overall I’m disappointed with the performance because it didn’t warrant three points, it might have warranted a point.”
The manager made two changes from the weekend’s victory over Norwich City, with Andrew Hughes and Daniel Johnson coming in for the suspended Jordan Storey, and Alan Browne respectively.
After taking seven points from a possible nine, the gaffer feels the run of fixtures may have got the better of his players.
Asked what was wrong with the performance, Ryan said: “Probably a lack of energy in terms of the bodies.
“Sometimes you can make loads of changes, too many, not too many, I just thought that the games caught up with us massively today.
“We’re not making excuses because you can see we’re a little bit tired, our decision-making wasn’t right.
“But I’ve said to the group in there that lads are getting opportunities and you’ve got to take them.
“What we’ll have to do now is we’ll have them get recovered because the turnaround again is so quick.
“We go again Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday; it’s going to be relentless.
“I’ve got to make sure that we recover properly. We’ll debrief the game, we’ll show them some of the stuff that wasn’t good enough and we need to be better next time.”