John Sheridan slammed Chesterfield for their uncharacteristically poor display in the 3-0 defeat at lowly Hereford.
Stuart Fleetwood's early opener was followed by Steven Leslie's long-range effort and the result was sealed when Joe Colbeck scored late on from outside the box. The Spireites could have earned promotion with victory but they fluffed their lines in a big way.
"I don't know whether to laugh or to cry," said Sheridan.
"How can you explain a performance like that from a team who are at the top of the table and who would have clinched promotion with the right result."
"First and foremost, I'll apologise to the fans we have brought here for a performance like that.
"I have made my feelings clear to the players - I don't care that we are at the top of the league, it's the performance that counts.
"I will accept getting beaten, but it is how you go about getting beaten and we did not merit anything from the game at all."
Hereford boss Jamie Pitman said: "This is a great start to what has become a six-game mini-season. We have worked so hard to get where we are, away from the foot of the table, and now it is going to come down to just six games.
"We should really have more points on the board than we have. Over the last few weeks we have shown we are capable of getting the right results but against the league leaders we have done really well and I'm absolutely delighted.
"We have had a lot of frustration at home this season but I have always believed we could get the right results and now we are."
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