Ian Evatt admitted Wanderers got what they deserved after a late goal ended the Whites’ unbeaten run.
After four straight League One wins, the Whites suffered a first defeat in five games when Ryan Broom fired Cheltenham to a 1-0 victory in the 87th-minute.
Wanderers were within touching distance of a point but despite being denied an early penalty for an apparent foul on Dion Charles, Evatt felt that would have been more than his players deserved from an unacceptable performance.
“It is a penalty after 30 seconds. It doesn’t matter what stage of the game, it’s a penalty. But let’s not paper over the cracks. They were better than us and deserved to win,” said Evatt.
“It’s a great message to the players that when they dip below our usual standard – even by one per cent – you get beat in this league and tonight we deservedly got beat.
“We weren’t good enough in every department from minute one to the last minute.
“We rode our luck. We didn’t win first contact, second contact, second balls – all the basics of football and the foundation of everything we’ve done of late and which has been good of late and been built from didn’t exist.
“We didn’t fight enough and that’s unlike this group. You can’t come to these types of places and think things are going to be easy and you can turn up and play our way and they’re going to accept it.
“There are ways to get beat and we’re allowed to lose games. We’re going to lose games but it’s the manner in which we lose games and tonight that really hurts.”
Wanderers remain in the top six after just a third defeat of the campaign but Evatt is demanding a positive response when the Whites return to Gloucestershire on Saturday to face Forest Green Rovers.
“You’re allowed to have an off night and you’re allowed to lose games,” added the Wanderers’ boss, who explained that wing-back Conor Bradley was rested after playing continually for club and country since the start of the season during a first spell on loan in senior football and suffering a recent bout of illness while on Northern Ireland duty.
“But the manner we lost that game isn’t acceptable. They know. They’ve been told and we need to better.
“We’ve had a good start to the season but in this league and in football in general things can turn really quickly and we have to have a strong reaction to that performance on Saturday.”