Manager Ronnie Moore described Tranmere as a "wreck as a team" following Rovers' 1-0 home defeat to struggling Hartlepool.
The visitors had to win or they would be relegated, and they did so through Neil Austin's 10th-minute goal.
Tranmere's temperatures were raised when referee Lee Collins pointed to the penalty spot after ruling that Ben Gibson had held Sam Collins in the box.
Rovers fans thought justice had been done when Owain Fon Williams kept out Simon Walton's penalty but Austin pounced to slide home the rebound.
The hosts were awarded a penalty of their own 12 minutes after the break but Scott Flinders superbly tipped Andy Robinson's spot-kick onto the crossbar after Peter Hartley was judged to have fouled Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro.
Moore feels his team is a shadow of the one he had during the first half of the season.
"There is no doubt it is disappointing," said Moore after a fourth straight 1-0 loss. "The penalty given to Hartlepool was a ridiculous decision. But we were asleep on the edge of the box when the ball came back out and they have stuck away the rebound.
"Our penalty came at the right time but the save just about summed up our last two months. On an attacking front we were poor. We had a lot of possession but we didn't show enough quality because we should have put them to the sword.
"It was a massive game but we didn't have the guile to break Hartlepool down. At the start of the season we were almost unplayable but at the moment I don't know where our next goal is coming from. We are a wreck as a team right now compared to the fluency we showed earlier in the season.
"Someone has to light the blue touch paper because we didn't test Hartlepool enough. We went out of the game with a whimper and it has to mean more to the players. It hurts. I am angry because I can see what we have thrown away. We are playing like we are a bottom-four team."