Belconnen United FC will look to turn its season around next week after suffering a late dagger blow on Saturday.
The Blue Devils fell 1-0 to O'Connor Knights in their Capital Football NPLM clash after Gabriel Ayuel's 81st-minute strike split the teams at O'Connor Enclosed.
Despite the disappointment, United coach Michael Zakoski was confident his team could turn it around and still challenge for a finals berth, starting next weekend in a crucial showdown against Monaro.
"I think that if the performances weren't there, it would be a concern," Zakoski said.
"But the performances are there, so hopefully they will transfer into results.
"Obviously the weeks are running out [to secure points], but I do think we can challenge for it."
Zakoski's squad, while strong, lacks first grade experience. Patience is a virtue, he said.
"We are in a different position to other clubs, where we have younger players taking the responsibility, where some of the other clubs have those senior players," he said.
"We just have to be patient with where they are growing as players and ultimately, as long as they are creating those opportunities, I feel confident that they will take those chances with time to come."
The form of Maxx Green, who has bagged six goals this season, is proof of where the Blue Devils can head. Zakoski couldn't be happier with his performances this season and backed him to progress to higher levels in the sport.
"I think he is up there for top-scorer this season," Zakoski said.
"His individual role in the team has been really good and I would love to see him thrive at the next level if he gets the chance."
Zakoski acknowledged facing Monaro away from home at Riverside Stadium would present a formidable challenge.
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"It will be a tough game with tough opposition," Zakoski said.
"They are also preparing for their Australia Cup game, too. They have a good level of experience throughout their squad, as well as a good balance of technical ability and understanding."
In Saturday's other men's matches, Cooma Tigers and Monaro Panthers drew 1-all, while Canberra FC was too strong for Woden Weston, extending its ladder lead to six points with a 4-2 win.
Gungahlin United hosts Canberra Olympic to complete the round on Sunday.
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