The Albury-Wodonga Spitfires men escaped with a 4-4 draw against St Patrick's at Albury Hockey Centre on Saturday.
After three straight losses to higher-ranked opposition in Wests and Central, it was a game the Border side simply had to win to move back into the top-four.
But it wasn't to be.
St Patrick's took the lead on four separate occasions, but the Spitfires were able to equalise each and every time through goals to Larry Simpson, Oscar Smart, Tim Smith and Kurt Beath.
Co-coach Tony Donnolley was forced to watch on from the sideline, nursing a sore hip and back, and was frustrated he was unable to impact the contest.
"We were throwing away the ball and they were getting counters and making the most of their opportunities," he said.
"We were pretty much all over them all game and weren't putting away our chances.
"We'd get into the forward line and throw it away.
"Instead of working it into the circle, we were just hitting them from outside the 25 and hoping for someone to get a touch on it and deflect it in.
"It was basic, silly hockey really.
"We had so many opportunities to finish it off, but didn't."
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The Spitfires have conceded the second most amount of goals across the competition, 27 in seven games, but Donnolley was more concerned with the way his side was moving the ball.
"It was probably one of the weaker games our defence has had," he said.
"We usually move it really well around the back and build it up well, but for some reason we were going long, cutting out our midfield and it was turning over.
"We were susceptible to counter attacks that way and it happened in the first game last week (against Central) a bit too."
Young defender Noah Erdeljac was the Spitfires' best, while Sam Quick also showed plenty in attack.
The ladder after round six is: Central 16, Wests 15, Goulburn 12, Old Canberrans 8, Albury-Wodonga 7, United 6, St Patrick's 4, ANU 1.
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