It was a match which summed up Macquarie United's season.
The inability to make the most of attacking chances again came back to haunt the Dubbo side at Apex Oval on Wednesday night as the Parkes Cobras scored in the final five minutes to secure a hugely important Western Premier League victory.
The 3-2 defeat leaves Macquarie's finals hopes hanging by a thread and the Paul Crain-coached outfit now needs to win its final two games and hope results elsewhere work in its favour to be any chance of finishing in the top five.
"It's the story of our season. We didn't take our opportunities and that's what it comes down to. Parkes did," Crain said, his side now four points off the fifth-placed Cobras.
"It was a good, hard, physical game and played in the right spirit but it pretty much ends out season."
There's plenty of similarities between the way Macquarie and Parkes play and the attacking style was on show during what was a hard-fought match at Apex Oval.
The hosts began brightly but somewhat against the run of play it was Parkes who opened the scoring when Blake Medlyn got between defence and keeper on 19 minutes to poke a cross home.
It didn't rattle too Macquarie at all and the leveller on 33 minutes felt deserved as Glen Schein got up to nod a deft header in from a Justin Sutton corner.
That was how it stayed until the break but shortly after the restart Parkes was in front again when Brad Tucker slammed home a powerful header from a Bateson corner.
Again Macquarie responded though and on 65 minutes Sutton played a wonderful cross-come-shot from the right wing that found the back of the net and delighted the Macquarie fans.
Macquarie had plenty of possession in the final 20 minutes but Parkes' ability to get the ball into the box from wide areas had troubled the hosts and it proved their undoing in the final stages.
The ball was sprayed out to the right edge and Ben Coultos put in a pinpoint cross for Lachlan Hando to thump into the back of the net.
The loss was a crushing blow for Macquarie after an equally disappointing 1-0 defeat to fellow finals contender Panorama FC only last weekend.
"It was in our hands," Crain said.
"But this isn't just from the last two weeks. This is the season that we've had.
"We've tried to be positive and we've given our all but the reality is when you have the injuries we have and the losses we've had, Jesse Spang and Cameron Kopp, you've got to move your whole side around and we've used 30 players.
"We just couldn't get consistency."
Spang was the league's top-scorer last season while Crain said central defender Kopp may have been the best player in the region during 2020.
As hard as it has been without the pair this time, Crain has been proud of the attitude of his players this season and doesn't expect anything to change in the final two rounds against Lithgow and Orange Waratahs.
"We're going to be giving that game 110 per cent," the coach said of Saturday's trip to Lithgow.
"Then the last game is against Waratahs and we're trying to beat both sides and after that we can look forward to next year.
"We've got a lot of juniors coming through, which is exciting. It's exciting times for us but this year, up to this stage, has been disappointing. But the results and where we finish is not an indication of the effort the squad put in."
As disappointing as the loss was, another highlight reel-worthy goal from Sutton earned plenty of praise.
The midfielder has made a habit of scoring stunners this season but as pleasing as his goal-scoring has been, it has underlined an issue at Macquarie.
"In all seriousness, Sutto practices that sort of stuff," Crain said of the long-range goal.
"He likes those sort of shots and he does it well. The concern for us this year is Sutto is our leading goal-scorer and he's a midfielder or right-wing.
"Our goals need to come from centre forward."
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