Melbourne City coach John van ‘t Schip felt the games two big decisions went against his side as they slumped to a costly loss to Western Sydney Wanderers FC on Wednesday night.
City looked on track to move back into the top six with a valuable win at Pirtek Stadium as they led the Wanderers 2-1 with less than 12 minutes left to play.
But defender Connor Chapman was involved in two controversial incidents which swung the result, first adjudged to have fouled Tomi Juric in the box, before being sent off for man-handling referee Strebre Delovski soon after.
The Wanderers took advantage to snatch all three points through Nikita Rukavytsya’s volley in stoppage time.
“For me the penalty was soft,” van ‘t Schip said.
“But he [Delovski] gave it, he was on top of it so he probably saw something that for him was clearly a penalty.
“After that the red card…I don’t know. I asked Connor and he said there might have been contact.
“After that [down to 10-men] it’s difficult.”
The defeat could be a crushing blow to City’s finals hopes, still one point behind sixth-placed Brisbane Roar, who now have two games in hand on them.
Of more concern for van ‘t Schip is his side’s inability to finish teams off when in control and dominating matches.
It cost them in the weekend’s loss to Central Coast Mariners and again against the Wanderers.
“It concerns us because a game of football is not only one half,” the City boss said.
“We went up in the second half so it’s not that we’re not in the game, we were creating and were dangerous still.
“In the end it’s just not good enough. We lose our head in some situations, the pressure knowing that you have to win this game and it ended up on the wrong side.”
One positive for the visitors was the performance of midfielder Aaron Mooy, who capped his call-up for the Socceroos on Wednesday with a superb display.
Mooy, who was booed at times by his former fans, set up City’s first goal before scoring the second himself with a curling free-kick.
City head back home for a must-win clash with struggling Newcastle Jets on Saturday night.