Leeton United assistant coach Joe Trifogli has admitted his side might still be rattled from their heavy loss to Lake Albert last month.
Trifogli’s concession comes in the wake of Leeton’s first loss to Young Lions in in more than a year.
The men from the MIA were a step up from their dismal 6-0 showing against the Sharks but failed to convert against Mark Mellish’s young charges over the weekend, slumping to a 1-0 defeat at Hall Bros Oval.
Leeton’s failure to capitalise on opportunities in a scoreless 90 minutes proved costly at the death and ultimately crippled their push for a top four finish.
The visitors made a meal of clearing from their danger zone and gifted the Lions an own goal with just two minutes of injury time remaining.
“We just tried to clear it and the ball skewed off the boot into our goals,” Trifogli said.
“I couldn’t believe it … but we honestly played so badly.
“There were some good patches but most of it wasn’t great.
“I don’t know if they’re still thinking about that last game (against Lake Albert) but it was like our heads were still on the bus.”
The absence of suspended players Scott Munro and Dan McKenzie was keenly felt and preparations were further soured when Adam Raso pulled out of the game on Sunday morning.
However, Mellish had limited sympathy for his opponents’ own goal plight, arguing his side were deserving winners on the day.
“It was a difficult game and there weren’t a lot of chances for either side … but I’d be disappointed if we hadn’t won it in the end,” he said.
“We stuck to our game plan and we made plenty of high percentage plays which gave us a few opportunities, so I think we deserved the three points.
“We still had to work for it because Leeton are one of the best-drilled sides in the competition. Even when they’re off their game, they’re a tough side to beat and we manged to do that.”
The 1-0 result alone would’ve seen Young do a straight swap with Leeton for fourth, however, Wagga United’s 4-1 win over Tumut proved a costly one.
Now occupying sixth on the ladder, Leeton are feeling the heat from seventh-placed Cootamundra as they look to lock down a finals berth.
Leeton’s hopes will be boosted by a favourable draw which features upcoming games against Junee and Tumut while Cootamundra must score wins over Lake Albert and Young in their next two fixtures if they’re to be any hope of playing in September.