Jon McCarthy held his hands up and admitted his Chester FC team had been beaten by the better side in their 3-2 derby defeat at home to Macclesfield Town.
For the third match in succession the opposition struck a decisive late blow to condemn the battling Blues to a seventh loss in their last eight league outings.
Top-scorer James Alabi put Chester in front with his 16th goal of the season in all competitions but impressive Macclesfield hit back to take a deserved lead into the break with strikes from Andy Halls and Anthony Dudley.
Blues boss McCarthy reorganised at the interval with Kane Richards and Theo Vassell replacing Blaine Hudson and Danny O'Brien.
And the changes helped as half-time substitute Richards equalised with 15 minutes of normal time to play when he bundled home his eighth goal of the campaign.
There was to be one more twist, however, with Ollie Norburn firing in what proved to be the winner in the 85th minute.
McCarthy, who was disappointed with the manner of Macc's second and third goals, said: "Macclesfield were better on the night, they had better players on the night, and they played a very high level of football, as good as you will see this season, in terms of pasing.
"They are a good team, well balanced, good passers of the ball, and have got quality in good positions. That's a good night for them as well; that's them right on top of their game.
"(In the first half) we were dazzled under the lights a little bit by some of their football and not coming to terms with their shape but we adjusted to that, managed to stay in the game and, at half-time, making a couple of changes, I needed a response, as a manager I was facing a really difficult night.
"But we then found something, found a spell when we got into the game, exerted some control and followed it up with a goal. Then it's end to end and it's a little mistake at the end.
"Even if we'd have got a draw we would have held our hands up and said it was a good Macc performance, but the players have given me something to hold on to."