Victory on Saturday would have moved Hamill’s side to equal top of the league with Wishaw but Hamill’s men failed to capitalise on home advantage over their opponents.

The boss conceded: “We played ok on a day when ok just wasn’t good enough. We were left looking for a spark that just didn’t come and to fall to a defeat like that is absolutely gut wrenching.

“We only have ourselves to blame, in such a big game we just never seemed like we were testing Wishaw enough.

“It was a horrendous display, there wasn’t a lot of chances in the game. Their only shot resulted in the goal but the referee denied them a stonewall penalty they could have felt aggrieved if they never won.

“I set the team out as attacking as I could. I made changes due to the importance of the game but we now just need to get back into training and try our hardest.

“But credit where credit is due, Wishaw played well. They could have came out looking to draw as that would be like a victory for them.

“We needed to win but they were solid, difficult to break down and never really gave us any opportunities to pounce so fair play to them, they probably deserved it over the course.” Nicky Moore’s 84th minute strike handed the visitors a precious win as they look to be heading for promotion. Vale failed to take control following Gordon Dick’s red card for a second bookable offence with 15 minutes remaining but Hamill believes his team can still finish the season in a promotion spot — if they can dust themselves down for this week’s tie to third place Forth Wanderers.

He stressed: “I always thought if we won four out of the last five matches then we would get promoted so we can’t afford to lose again.

“A win would have been a great springboard but there are fine margins in this league and they continue against Forth on Saturday.

“Forth are in good form so we need to be at our best.” Vale of Leven: Smith, Muir, Lacy, Wilson, Monaghan, Cowan, Brown, McLachlan, Stillwell, Arthur, Crowhurst.

Subs: McGeachy, McNaught, Martin, Pawsey, Griffen