GCU must be smarter

Gold Coast United need to be smarter in the last 20 minutes of games if they want to lift themselves off the bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder, according to skipper Michael Thwaite.

Gold Coast United need to be smarter in the last 20 minutes of games if they want to lift themselves off the bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder, according to skipper Michael Thwaite.

Still seething from Carlos Hernandez's 79th-minute winner for Melbourne Victory last weekend, United have developed an unfortunate habit of letting in late, sucker-punch goals on the road this season.

United have lost all five matches away from home, though in all bar one - October's 3-0 loss in Brisbane - they have been in a position to at least draw.

But late goals conceded against Central Coast, Sydney, Adelaide and Victory have meant plenty of precious points have gone begging, leaving the boys from the Glitter Strip rock bottom.

Now four-points adrift of ninth-placed Adelaide, those lost points have accumulated and Thwaite said his men must avoid similar heartbreak against Perth Glory on Saturday night at nib Stadium.

"I don't think we can afford to draw at the moment. It's not going to do much to us on the table," Thwaite said from Perth, where his team have been camped since Wednesday.

"We have to go into every game going for the win - but for instance, when we are drawing a match and we're playing away, and there's only a little bit of time left on the clock, you've got to be smart about it."

United must also be more vigilant further up the pitch, said Thwaite.

Much has been made of Gold Coast's poor defensive record - which, with a total of 16 goals conceded, is the worst in the league - but their captain said to point the blame squarely at the back four is wrong.

"Our reaction time and pressure on the ball straight after we lose it is not quick enough. When I talk about pressure on the ball, I mean from everyone. It's a collective thing," he said.

"The first line of defence should be the strikers, then the midfield and us at the back."

"If the pressure is breaking down from that first line then in a team point of view, that's what we always look at - not just the final action. Everyone can get better."

But United's under-siege rearguard has been given a welcome boost with last week's return of stopper Ante Rozic from a long-term knee injury.

While Thwaite said the towering Croatian isn't yet at 100 percent fitness, the sheer presence of his partner in crime will give the whole squad a 'big advantage'.

"He's got that killer instinct at the back," he said.

"He doesn't take any chances, he's a very reliable player and we've definitely missed him. It'll be good to have him back."