Tranmere boss Les Parry believes the "fear factor" is stalking his team after they slipped closer to the relegation zone at Chesterfield, who climbed off the bottom of the table with a 1-0 win at the B2net Stadium.
A second-half strike from Jordan Bowery was enough to decide a nervy contest and leave Tranmere still searching for a first win in 2012.
Parry's players are only one point above the bottom four but he said: "I can't ask any more of the lads. The one thing I can't criticise is not giving their all, we have never been able to question the effort they put in. But I thought we played with a little bit of fear which makes it more difficult and makes mistakes more probable."
He added: "But that's only natural because of the predicament we are in."
A section of Tranmere fans chanted for Parry to be sacked but he remains philosophical about his future on the Wirral.
"I have never jacked in anything in my life," he said. "I have succeeded in everything I have done but it could end on a low if I lose my job. I know there's a fair chance it could happen tomorrow or the next day but if it does, I will get on with it and see what I am going to do next."
Chesterfield manager John Sheridan praised the work ethic of his team after they won a game of few chances with Bowery's goal 14 minutes from time.
He said: "I thought the lads worked really hard. I thought we started on the edge but we got into the game and it was a very workmanlike performance against a team that doesn't concede many.
"To keep a clean sheet was also pleasing. It's hard when you are at the bottom so to come out and win we had to work hard. It's a great three points for us and it was excellent from the players."