Luckless Taree Wildcats slumped to a 3-0 loss to Port United in the Coastal Premier League first grade on Saturday.
And while the Wildcats remain anchored to the foot of the ladder, there have been signs of improvement in recent weeks.
Coach Shannon Hall said they missed the jump at the weekend and within two minutes of kick-off they found themselves down a goal and playing catch-up.
It was always going to be a difficult ask from that point on, but the Wildcats kept fighting.
“Considering last time we played them we got dusted 10-0, it was definitely a vast improvement and even a few of their boys said we’re definitely a lot better than we were at the start of the season,” Hall said.
“To hear the other teams saying that, I think it is a step in the right direction.”
The effort from the Wildcats can never be questioned, but Hall admitted inexperience was proving costly.
But the experience some of their young guns are gaining will prove beneficial in years to come.
“Again I can’t fault any of their effort, it’s just unfortunately they’re too young and haven’t had that experience yet,” he said.
Young guns Darcy Muxlow and Drew Cini played out of position, but were strong in an otherwise disappointing afternoon for the club.
“It was a last-minute tactical change because I dropped out so we went to a back three with two wingbacks,” Hall said.
“They’d never played there before but they were unreal so I was impressed with both of them.”
United coach Adam Bruest breathed a sigh of relief that his team had found a little bit of their attacking mojo.
With a bit more polish it could have been an even more emphatic result, but he said the focus was just on three points.
“I don’t think there has been anything wrong with our performances in previous weeks, it was more just the frustration part that the boys didn’t handle quite well,” he said.
“We’ve remedied that and we’ve talked about it and we know how to deal with it a bit better as a team.”
Matt Bale, Matt Broderick and Jamie Duncan all found the back of the net as United moved into outright fourth spot.
“I was quite pleased with the effort,” Bruest said.
“The three points was very important and we stuck to the game plan and were able to create a lot more chances than we have been creating.”