TRANMERE manager Rob Edwards said seeing his side surrender the lead in the final minutes to end up losing 2-1 against Shrewsbury Town was like "a kick in the teeth."
After the club's first away game of the season, Edwards said Rovers paid the price for failing to push forward after their first half goal, and that the squad "needs to get a bit fitter."
Tranmere led through Abdulai Baggie's 42nd-minute goal, but late strikes from Andy Mangan and Mickey Demetriou gave Shrewsbury all three points.
Edwards had made several changes for the first away game of the season. Marc Laird, Max Power, Jake Kirby and Cole Stockton all returned to the starting line-up.
Power had the first shot of the game after 13 minutes. Matt Hill and Jake Kirby worked the ball inside from the left to find Power, captaining the side in Marcus Holness' absence, whose 20-yard effort was blocked by a defender.
On 36 minutes, Shrewsbury had another chance to open the scoring. Ashley Vincent fired a corner from the right and centre-back Connor Goldson rose high but could only divert his header wide of fon Williams' goal.
Rovers' opener came when Stockton won a header to send Kirby on his way down the left. He went to the by-line and his deep cross found Laird, who cut the ball back to Baggie to side-foot home from six yards.
Shrewsbury grabbed an equaliser in the final minute of normal time when Mickey Demetriou placed a cross from the left and the ball found substitute Andy Mangan, who scored from inside the six-yard box.
The Shrews' winner came three minutes into stoppage time. A deep cross from the right found Deetriou in the heart of the penalty area and he sent a header flying past fon Williams.
After the game, Edwards said: "I said to the players that we need to get a bit fitter. I thought in the second half that we dropped to the edge of our box and then didn't defend our final third well enough.
"We defended for a long time and you run the risk that if you defend for that long you'll concede goals. To concede two was a kick in the teeth.
"We didn't have enough play and weren't tidy enough in our play in the second half, which meant we had to keep defending.
"The players had to do more in the last 20 minutes. A number of times we had the chance to make passes, retain possession and get down the pitch and it didn't happen.
"We need to find a way of getting over the line."
The manager said he felt disappointed for the crowd: "The fans came and supported us incredibly well and were vocal. I can see their frustration. I hope they stick with us because there was a lot of effort out there.
"We will improve as a team. It's a thin line between winning and losing and we just need to get over the line."
The result left Rovers in 17th place, two games in to their League Two campaign. They are away to second-placed Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm, and will host Cheltenham Town at Prenton Park on Saturday.