Simon Grayson felt his Preston North End side lacked quality in the final third as they saw their promotion hopes dealt a blow with a 0-0 draw at Milton Keynes Dons.
On a night where both teams struggled to get to grips with the poor playing surface as stadiummk, a draw was a fair result in the end.
However, it is one which does neither side any favours as Preston are now seven points adrift of an automatic promotion place while the Dons are six points shy of the play-offs.
Grayson said: "You can't fault the players for their effort and how they were so disciplined in terms of not conceding.
"It was just when we got into that final 20-25-yard area where we didn't have the composure, the quality or the end product that we really needed to break a team down.
"We've created a lot of chances in the last few weeks in games but we've not managed to finish teams off when we've had opportunities.
"We've got some good firepower all over the team - it's just maybe a bit of quality, a little bit of ruthlessness that we're lacking.
"We did everything up until that 25-yard area where it matters and that's the difference with us at the moment where we can't seem to turn the draws into victories.
"The pitch was very difficult but we seemed to get the ball down and play enough times, we just needed to do it in the right areas."
MK Dons' Daniel Powell passed up the first half's only clear chance when his timid finish was comfortably saved by Declan Rudd.
Keith Keane hit a post for Preston early in the second half before Jack King produced a magnificent goal-line clearance to deny Powell.
MK Dons boss Karl Robinson said: "I thought we had the better of the chances - Powell's in the first half was gilt-edged and it was a poor finish where he didn't seem to open his body.
"And then in the second half he's come in and taken his shot really early when he could have brought it a little bit closer to the goal.
"But I thought in the second half that Powelly was a threat and we've had to do a lot of work because to lose Samir Carruthers so soon with a knee problem and to then lose Lee Hodson at half-time was tough.
"We've a very skeleton squad with young lads like Harry Hickford, Giorgio Rasulo, George Baldock on the bench and Dele Alli starting, which shows we're short of bodies.
"Then we lose Samir and Lee and I've got nothing left, so I'm really proud of the players - I could ask for no more."