An inability to to convert chances has been the biggest issue for Macquarie United throughout the 2021 Western Premier League season and it proved costly again on Saturday.
Macquarie suffered a 1-0 loss to Panorama FC at Bathurst on Saturday and that, combined with Parkes' shock win over leaders Waratahs, resulted in the Dubbo side falling out of the finals places with three games to go.
It was the opposite for Panorama, as the win keeps their finals hopes alive and it moves them level on points with Macquarie in sixth spot.
Macquarie coach Paul Crain had labelled Saturday's match a "must-win" in the lead-up.
His side wasn't without opportunities after the ever-reliable Jacob Soetens scored the opener for the hosts, but a massive shift from Panorama centre-backs Nathan Davis and Jarrod Portegies helped repel Macquarie time and time again and ensure victory.
"You've got to take your chances and these blokes [Panorama] had a chance and took it," Macquarie United's Brad Matiuscenko said after the game.
"We just can't find the onion bag right now, which has been our biggest challenge all year after losing a couple of players who scored most of our goals last year."
Panorama right-back Brad Campbell said the win was important to keep his side in the mix for finals.
"It was a huge result, almost like a semi-final for us. A loss there and the season would've pretty much been done," he said.
"That keeps the finals hopes well and truly alive."
While Panorama was unable to find the second goal, Campbell said the defence remained strong throughout the match, helping secure the Goats the win.
"It was a great win. We started a bit shaky but towards the end of the first half we found our feet," he said.
"We really wanted to kill it off in the second half, we couldn't quite get that second goal but our defence was really solid throughout.
"Nathan Davis and Jarrod Portegies were really solid in the backline. It was great to have Porty back, he's had six weeks off. He was stuck away in Queensland for a little while. He's got quality and played really well."
The result now puts Panorama up to 14 points, equal with Macquarie, but the Dubbo club ranking sixth due to a more favourable goal difference.
Macquarie now has a catch-up game against Parkes to look forward to on Wednesday that and match may decide who finishes in the all-important fifth spot.
Matiuscenko knows his side needs to show the kind of desire Panorama did on Saturday to be any chance at Apex Oval midweek.
"It was a tough battle and they're a good side," he said of Saturday.
"They were up for the challenge and they wanted it more than us. We've just got to get back to training and go onto next week.
"It's a massive blow. We've got two massive games coming up including Parkes, who have been battling for that fifth spot too," he said.
"We've got to hope [Panorama] drops points now because otherwise our season will be short lived."
A new leader in the league was confirmed on Saturday as Orana Spurs trounced Lithgow 6-0 at Hans Claven Oval to take control of the minor premiership race.
Waratahs slipped after the 2-0 loss to Parkes while Barnstoneworth United won the round's other match 3-2 over the Mudgee Wolves.
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