Murray United returned home from its away clash with Moreland Zebras wondering how they lost.
The Border outfit was left to rue a number of missed chances, including a penalty and a golden chance in the dying stages to lose the contest against the NPL 2 west promotions hopefuls 1-0.
Murray drew a penalty with less than five minutes to play for a handball in the box, but Moreland goalkeeper Andre Jannese stunningly denied Archie Thompson with a brilliant save.
Jannese was in brilliant touch all day, keeping out a number of shots on target from Murray.
However, Murray coach James Coutts almost pinched a draw with the last kick of the game, but his shot glanced the post and went wide, which was immediately followed by the final whistle.
Coutts said the result was a hard one take and has been somewhat the story of their season.
“There's not many games where we've been outplayed and you can say the other team deserved to win,” Coutts said.
“On the flip side, it's something we need to get better at as a team, myself included.
“The finishing wasn't good enough, we've missed four penalties this season with Pysey (Sean Pye), Archie and Gonzalo (Freddi).
“It was just one of those days, we have those a little too often sometimes, but the effort and desire was certainly there.”
Coutts said making the most of their chances is the biggest thing that needs to be improved heading into next season.
“We can't dominate the games like we have been and not score,” Coutts said.
“If you're a striker, you have to be practicing your bread and butter, which is goals.
“That's why the top strikers in the world are the ones that put away chances.
“They might not be involved all the time, but if they're putting the ball in the back of the net, it's worth its weight in gold.
“It's not a criticism of our strikers, it's our attacking players as a whole, it's the defensive players when we come up for set plays, we all have things we need to work on.
“There's individual standards and something we talk a lot about is how often we make sure we're at the level required.”
But the fact there was genuine disappointment from the players to have lost the game proved to Coutts the character in the group is strong.
“We want a team of winners, so when you see the disappointment after the game and the hurt on people's faces, even knowing we can't get promoted or relegated this season is pleasing, because we know we've brought in the characteristics that we want from our players,” he said.
“When you look at the bigger picture, the team is certainly going in the right direction.”
Coutts said the midfield and the combination play between Thompson, Freddi and young gun Connor Caponecchia was again superb.
The loss pushes Murray down to fifth with two games to play after Goulburn Valley Suns defeated Melbourne Victory 2-1.
The ladder after round 26 is: Dandenong Thunder 57, Dandenong City 50, Melbourne City 37, Goulburn Valley Suns 35, Murray United 33, Springvale 32, Nunawading City 29, Box Hill United 28, Eastern Lions 27, Richmond 25.