Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat lamented some wasteful finishing as his under-strength side was forced to settle for a 0-0 draw against Sydney FC on Saturday night.
Without up to six first-team regulars either injured or on international duty, including skipper Mark Milligan and defenders Matthieu Delpierre and Daniel Georgievski, Victory still dominated the Sky Blues and were unlucky not to come away with all three points.
Attacking trio Archie Thompson, Besart Berisha and Fahid Ben Khalfallah all squandered some gilt-edged opportunities in what was an entertaining stalemate at Allianz Stadium.
“I’m very pleased with the performance and I thought the majority of the first half we had the ascendancy and created some really good chances,” Muscat said.
“In these moments when you’re playing that well and your dominating you really have to capitalize. On the night that was our undoing for not getting the extra two points.”
With so many players unavailable, it gave an opportunity to the likes of Rashid Mahazi – in the unfamiliar role of right-back, Dylan Murnane and Jesse Makarounas a chance to shine.
Not that Muscat was surprised with the way they handled the occasion in front of more than 20,000 fans.
“During the week we never discussed (the amount of players out) once. I honestly think it’s disrespectful to the players you have available,” the Victory boss said.
“We knew we’d be in this predicament at some stage throughout the campaign and we prepared for it. We prepared the team well to play against a very good Sydney team and the players that played tonight, whether you think they’re first choice or not, were outstanding.
“That’s a credit to the players. We were forced to play players out of position and they were aware of their responsibility in a position they’re not accustomed too.
“I’m very pleased with tonight’s performance but I can’t help myself but feel slightly disappointed we didn’t take all three points back to Melbourne.”
The Victory host champions Brisbane on Friday night, with Muscat confident Milligan, Delpierre and defender Nick Ansell would all be available, while also sweating on the fitness of his players on international duty.