'Dead ball specialist wanted’: Three things we learned – United City vs City
This group was always in our hands, supposedly ready for the taking by the reigning A-League Men double-winners. Now, we must wait for one more result before we know our fate after falling agonisingly short of our monster ‘five-goal-win’ task.
Unfortunately, it was United City FC who were able to hold us to just a three-goal win in front of some interested BG Pathum fans.
How did it happen? What did we learn? What is the equation now? Find out below:
Areas for improvement
Six matches in a little over two weeks was always going to be a mammoth task, but we should have done better. We may have certainly walked this group if it weren’t for our inability to trouble the opposition goalkeeper consistently, and the continual defensive errors we have seen all season long.
Just tonight we missed multiple chances without even troubling the keeper, with Maclaren’s penalty miss being a key contributor to this point. On the other side of the coin, our poor form down back has continued, and we were certainly lucky to keep a clean sheet in our final group stage game.
In the short term, our boys will need to focus and turn on the afterburners to win our final two A-League games and hopefully clinch our second Premiers Plate in as many years.
We are not ‘one and done’
I have no doubts in my mind that we are well suited for Asian football. With more experience to come, and the eventual return of home and away games, we will surely be ready to win games on our turf and take it to those away.
In the meantime, we all need to get behind our boys and ensure we continue to push for a successful dynasty on the domestic stage. With a dominant end to the season involving wins against Perth and Wellington, we would be invited back late next year for our second bout of Asian football.
This is just a starting point.
Okay, is it just me or does everyone cringe when we are awarded a penalty at this stage? No matter who steps up for it, I can't help but feel unconfident that the net will bulge. It is getting to the point that we need to sign a dead ball specialist, because we have given up too many golden opportunities.
If Maclaren scores that, we are given a new lease of life, especially considering United City’s most prominent defender copped a red card.
To continue to fluff our lines in penalty chances is to deny their worth. They don’t come too often; we must take them.
So, how do we progress?
We've only got one last hope: Kitchee plays Vissel Kobe at 9pm AEST tonight, where we must see a Kitchee loss. A win or draw, and we are out.
If Andrés Iniesta can’t save us, no one can.