Macleay Valley Rangers could have sewn up third spot on the Coastal Premier League Men’s ladder on Tuesday night with a win over Sawtell.
Instead, they dished up a disappointing performance that left the door ajar for either Southern United, Port United or Sawtell to steal in the last round.
Rangers coach Jason Coleman was left “absolutely shattered” after the 2-0 defeat.
“We’re not making it easy for ourselves,” he said.
“We didn’t show up for the game and I think we banked our points before we played the game to be quite honest.”
A victory would have given the Kempsey-based side an unassailable two-win buffer with one round of football to be played.
Coleman admitted the Scorpions were hungrier for the result, were quicker to the ball and more enthusiastic with their challenges as they dominated Rangers through midfield.
“We failed to control the ball and I think that was due to the intense pressure on us and that was a bit of a killer,” he said.
“We couldn’t capitalise and they wanted it more.”
The defeat was Rangers’ second of the season at home with a slip-up to Coffs City United the only match where they haven’t taken at least a point out of.
“I don’t like losing at home,” Coleman said.
“I think we’ve only lost there once all year and that was to Coffs United so that was a record I was hoping to keep intact, but as I said to the boys – you’ve got to be switched on in all aspects.
“You’ve got to want it more than the other team.”
To secure a top-four finish and hosting rights for the first week of finals, Rangers now must beat Southern United at Tuncurry on Saturday.
If they don’t, they could slip to fifth.
Port United are waiting to pounce after their 2-0 win over Port Saints on Tuesday put them right back in the mix for a top four berth.
They face two teams already out of finals contention in Kempsey Saints and Boambee this weekend.
“If we can get some result (out of the trip to Forster) we will finish third,” Coleman said.
“We really need a victory because Port United has two games to go and they’ll climb up the table as well.
“Everyone’s going to be [jostling] for that third and fourth spot.”