Jim Bentley felt his Morecambe side were beaten by the better team on the day as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to promotion rivals Rochdale.
Mark Hughes' own goal and a strike from Scott Hogan put Keith Hill's Dale in command before the Shrimps hit back courtesy of Padraig Amond's well-taken effort a minute from time.
But it proved too little, too late for Bentley's side, who suffered a third defeat in four league games and slipped down to eighth in the League Two table.
He said: "I wanted a response after losing in the FA Cup last week and I think I got that.
"There was no lack of effort and commitment but we did lack a bit of quality where it mattered and they took full advantage.
"They just seemed to have a bit extra when it mattered and once they got ahead it gave them a shot in the arm and they scored a good second goal which obviously gave them the upper hand.
"To our credit we had a go after that but we didn't pass the ball well enough when it mattered and although we got one back we gave ourselves too much to do.
"They are a very good side, probably the best I have seen this season, and sometimes you have to put your hands up and say that. I think they will definitely be up there at the end of the season."