Newcastle Jets skipper Nigel Boogaard was left to bemoan a "lack of ideas" in the front third after his side’s shock 1-0 loss to bottom side Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium.
In a full-blooded contest, the Jets weren’t able to take their chances and the energetic Reds took theirs from the spot.
And despite an eye-catching display from their Chinese playmaker Ma LeiLei, the Jets’ finals tilt took a hit on Friday night as the Reds racked up a rare clean sheet to boost their domestic campaign.
“We deserved more,” a frustrated Boogaard told SBS TV.
“First half they got on top early and outran us in the middle of the park and we did well to hold them out.
“But in the second half we had enough possession we had enough ball possession in good areas but we just lacked ideas and a bit of creativity.
“At the end of the day we’ve got to start scoring a few more goals. We’re getting in the right areas which is good but we’re not capitalising.”
Speaking of goals, Boogaard was central to the game’s defining moment.
Former Jet Tarek Elrich’s purposeful and jinky run into the box was adjudged to have been impeded by the Newcastle captain, and referee Kurt Ames pointed to the spot.
Reds' captain Marcelo Carrusca stroked home the game's winner despite protests from Boogaard.
“In my personal opinion, I don’t think it was a penalty,” he said.
“I trained with Tarek for five years and I know what he’s like and apparently I need to disappear,” he said in reference to the tackle and subsequent decision.
“That’s my personal opinion. But it’s tough to cop that.”
The Jets next face Central Coast in the F3 derby at home on February 26 with the game now looming as a finals six pointer.