Kempsey Saints overcame the first-half send off of centre back Corey Crotty to walk away from Dixie Park with a much-deserved point in a 0-all draw with Port United on Monday.
As much as United tried to find the key which would unlock a resolute Saints defence, they still came up empty despite having an extra man for the best part of an hour.
Frustrated United coach Adam Bruest acknowledged an inability to convert opportunities into goals was starting to become an issue for his side.
In three of their last four games the Port Macquarie side have only managed three goals despite playing some of the best football in the competition.
“It’s getting into their heads; the scoreboard pressure is getting into their heads and they’re making rash decisions,” Bruest said.
“They’re getting frantic and not playing the way they know how to play.”
His side dominated for large periods of a 1-all draw with Southern United six days ago in another match where they had an extra man, but couldn’t capitalise.
“The amount of chances we’re creating and not finding the net … it’s very hard,” the coach said.
Saints co-coach Dan Baker conceded his team had little option but to change into a defensive mindset after Crotty’s red card.
They simply had to put numbers behind the ball and hang on.
“At halftime we spoke about consolidating the clean sheet for as long as possible and then if the opportunity arose in the last 15 minutes to push hard,” he said.
“Then they threw an extra man high straight away which made it impossible for us to do that. That’s why it basically became a park the bus type of situation, but I’m super proud of the boys.”
Baker was also proud of the response he received from his side following a 5-1 hammering at the hands of Macleay Valley Rangers last week.
“We wanted to put that behind us,” he said.
“It was a bad game all round, we just didn’t perform. It’s a shame we did it against them, but very happy with that massive response.
The ability to walk away from Port Macquarie with a point despite playing a large portion of the game down a man continued a form guide that resembles a yoyo over the past month.
“We play the better football when we play better sides. We just drop goals at critical times and don’t score goals at critical times and that’s soccer,” Baker said.
“If you save goals at critical times and score goals at critical times you win the game and that’s what we haven’t done.”