Murray United has been eliminated from the Football Federation Australia (FFA) Cup.
The Border outfit played an excellent first half to take the early advantage against Kingston City, but slipped away in the second half to lose 4-1.
United coach James Coutts said it was the best half of football his side has produced during his tenure with the club.
“I thought we dominated from start to finish in the first half and deservedly went in 1-0,” Coutts said.
“The only issue in the first half was that we didn’t score enough to kill the game off.
“I think the next goal after half-time was a real turning point.
“As soon as they got the second they could sit back and protect their lead and they’ve probably got a little more experience than we have to do that.
“We had two great chances to go to 2-0, and, if we went up 2-0, the way we were playing, I felt that would have been it.”
United took the lead thanks to some good work from Lewis Greenwood on the rebound and maintained its 1-0 buffer at half-time.
A cross from Archie Thompson early in the second half found the boot of Zac Walker, but was saved by the Kingston goalkeeper.
Three minutes later, Kingston levelled the match with a goal from the second phase of a set piece and it was one-way traffic from there.
“The goal was excellent and it was great that Lewis followed up and got the rebound,” Coutts said.
“We certainly controlled a lot of the play, however, they were ruthless in both boxes, their keeper made three outstanding saves and we obviously made two big blunders.
“We’ve got to be a little more resilient in those key moments.
“You’ve got to remember Kingston are third in the NPL and I thought we shut down a lot of their strengths for the majority of the game.
“There are so many positives to take into next week, it’s just a shame we conceded in the style we did at the end of the game.”
Thompson agreed with Coutts and admitted it could have been a different story if United made the most of the chances it created.
“If you don’t take your chances, a quality side like Kingston City will obviously come back into the game,” Thompson said.
“It was a silly goal and I think it just was deflating, so after that we just weren’t switched on defensively and it was hard to get back into the game.”
Thompson will be unavailable against Dandenong Thunder next weekend, but will be back the week after.
United should be close to full strength with goalkeeper Abdulkerim Koc to return, while Coutts, Chad Bugeja and defender Fernando Posada will also be in the mix for selection.