Ryan Lowe felt his side “folded” in the final 20 minutes of the 4-1 defeat to Sheffield United.
Liam Delap had drawn North End level in the 63rd minute, finishing on the end of a good cross by Brad Potts to score his first goal for the club.
However, three goals in the final stages of the match courtesy of John Fleck, Iliman Ndiaye and Oli McBurnie for the promoted hosts means PNE now cannot finish in the top six of the Championship.
Ryan said: “Emotions are running high at the minute, I must say.
“I was very emotional towards the fans at the end. They’re singing your name and that gives me belief and I’m optimistic that we can do stuff, but I just felt that when we went to 1-1 we needed to penetrate and really go full throttle.
“We did but then we get done by a counter. It was a sloppy goal and we shouldn’t be conceding goals like that.
“I felt we sort of folded a little bit after that, so to concede three goals after 1-1 is disappointing.
“So there’s a few emotions running high at the moment and I’ve said that to the players. They’ll have a few days now and I’m just gutted I couldn’t take them on their journey because I felt like we’ve been a good team this season, but we haven’t quite matched the heights of being a very good team.
“This was the season where if you’re going to fall short a little bit in terms of quality and not enough goals, to get into the Play-Offs would have been this season, so I’m just gutted I couldn’t take it to the last game of the season and give ourselves a shout to try and get in.”