Exeter manager Paul Tisdale admitted his side were not good enough as they crashed to their fourth home defeat of the season by losing 1-0 to Chesterfield.
Chris Atkinson scored the only goal of the game after 31 minutes when he headed in at the back post after some great wing play by Craig Westcarr.
Chesterfield were worthy winners and created the better chances and it took 79 minutes before Exeter registered their first shot on target.
"It wasn't good enough" Tisdale said. "I am not going to elaborate on why that was, but it wasn't a good enough performance.
"It was a bit confused and our direction wasn't cohesive. We didn't have a common direction to our play. We didn't have a lack of honesty or will, certainly in the team. But those things can be questioned when there isn't a common purpose.
"It was a very disappointing game for us and there are certainly some challenges ahead. It wasn't a good day for us. We came close at the end but they are entitled to throw themselves at things. I am not going to bemoan that because we were not good enough with our play.
"Regardless of whether we had got an equalising goal, it wasn't acceptable for what I hope to be a successful team. I have to understand and give us some better direction at home. I know it has to be improved and we will do our very best to do it."
Chesterfield caretaker manager Tommy Wright also felt his side were worthy winners.
"I am very pleased, apart from the last 15 minutes when we came under a bit of pressure," he said. "Their goalkeeper made three or four great saves to stop us going 2-0 up, which would have killed the game off and made it more relaxing. We got a little deep in the last 15 minutes and gave the ball away cheaply but overall I thought some of the play was tremendous.
"Football tends to come back and bite you on the backside if you don't take your chances. To be fair we worked their keeper, but we held on and our keeper made a couple of good saves towards the end and helped us secure the points."