Boss Dave Frecklington felt frustrated after Spalding United’s first league defeat of the season.
The Tulips were knocked off the top of the table as Leek Town central defender Toby Mullarkey headed home the only goal at the Sir Halley Stewart Field on Saturday.
Frecklington said: “We are missing key players in the spine of the team and we can’t hide from that fact.
“Nathan Whitehead and Neal Spafford have played a big part in what we have done while Brad Barraclough has not made an appearance.
“We are missing know-how and experience but I thought Leek were excellent.
“They were big and strong but we also got caught ball-watching so we were our own worst enemy.
“We needed our quality to shine and we didn’t produce that.
“Leek set themselves up to get a draw and they nicked a goal from a set-piece.
“We need to be brighter in every area and we need some players back.
“We got to the top of the league by playing a certain way with the same side.
We were found wanting and that’s disappointing.Dave Frecklington
“The players coming in have done okay but they will need three or four games to get used to our style of play.
“We’ve had one defeat in 11 league games so you have to put it into perspective.
“However, that’s two on the bounce after the FA Trophy so we need to show a little bit more resolve next weekend at Sheffield.
“I’d expected a response on Saturday and we got one in terms of being at it more than we were in losing at Gresley.
“Leek came here and set their stall out. They fought, scrapped and battled in every department.
“We were found wanting and that’s disappointing.”