Steven Pressley admitted Fleetwood Town were well below their best as they clung on for a 1-1 draw at Colchester.
Eggert Jonsson’s first half mistake opened the door for Alex Gilbey to smash the struggling Us ahead.
But the Icelandic midfielder atoned for his error after the break, a superb half volley securing a share of the spoils.
Gilbey had a late chance to snatch it for the Essex side, his blast turned over the bar by Chris Maxwell with Antoni Sarcevic missing an open goal at the other end after some fine work by sub Nick Haughton.
Pressley was pleased enough to take a point, despite Fleetwood remaining trapped in a relegation scrap at the bottom end of League One.
“It’s probably been our poorest performance in the last couple of months,” the Fleetwood boss admitted.
“I think the sign of a good team is when you don’t hit those heights and you still come away with a result.
“That’s a positive.
“We know we didn’t play with the fluency we have been playing with.”
The match was played in front of rows of empty seats, fewer than 2,500 inside the Weston Homes Community Stadium for the re-arranged fixture.
And Pressley admitted his side had found the it a challenge.
“The atmosphere in the stadium was poor, it played like a reserve game,” he said.
“It was something I mentioned at half time - the responsibility was for us to create the atmosphere.
“When you play, as we did 10 days ago against Barnsley and the atmosphere was terrific, to come to this was difficult.
“But I thought we showed a good mentality, a good desire.
“I’m pleased with the response of the players but we know we can do much better.”
Town looked sunk at 1-0, Colchester content to soak up pressure, allow them to pass around in midfield and look to snatch a second on the break.
But Pressley’s side dug deep, the Scot singling out Jonsson for praise.
He said: “The way Colchester set up, they are very much a counter attacking team - the first goal was very important, it suited them.
“They were able to sit in and try to expose us as we threw bodies forward.
“Credit to the players and credit to Eggert who has made the mistake for the first goal.
“His response after that was outstanding.
“His second half performance was that of a real man and he got his just desserts.”
Late chances at both ends sparked the game to life and Pressley was content to head back north with a point in the bag after Maxwell’s added time scare.
He said: “We could have won it but we rode out luck a couple of times at the other end so the 1-1 was a fair reflection of the game.
“We’ve dominated a lot of games of late but in the circumstances coming away from home not playing to our potential a 1-1 draw is a good result.
“The first thing we wanted was not to lose, not to allow Colchester to close the gap to us.
“We’ve done that - it was vitally important.
“We managed to do it on a night where our performance wasn’t great.”