Canberra United fell 1-0 to a disciplined Western Sydney Wanderers side in W-League Round 13
A bevy of unfinished chances and final third execution cost Canberra United a vital result against the Western Sydney Wanderers' on Sunday in Round 13 of the Westfield W-League.
The Wanderers' came away with a 1-0 victory courtesy of Katherine Stengel's 43rd minute goal, arguably against the run of play in a first half mostly controlled by United.
A win would have seen United jump Sydney FC into first place on the W-League ladder, but their fortune now falls into the hands of other sides with only one round left of the season.
United looked to sit high and pressure the home side from the start, holding the lion's share of possession for the first 25 minutes of the match.
However try as they might, the visitors struggled to unlock a defence that remained disciplined and strong, seemingly belying the 10 goals they had conceded just a week previous.
But as United pushed harder and the Wanderers' seemed happy to sit deeper, the game plan of the home side came to fruition as they broke forward from the backline.
"We always knew that they were going to sit pretty deep and hit us on the counter," Dower said.
"And to their credit they did just that."
Stengel's goal came on the counter, with the Wanderers' catching United on a good switch before the ball was crossed for Stengel to tuck home.
With the lead secured the Wanderers' afforded themselves the luxury of dropping back further, but it could have been different had the visitors taken a number of chances.
"It was a game of missed opportunities," Dower said, "where our weight of possession, especially in the final third didn't quite equate to goals.
"We found it difficult to find the solution in the final third and our last pass or shot just wasn't clinical enough."
Sicne the 6-1 loss to Sydney over three weeks ago, United have turned out some of their best football of the season in the following three games, but with a win, a draw and a loss to show for it, Dower admitted that the consistency of her side is the biggest issue at this stage of the season.
"Our biggest challenge is our consistency, and it showed again today that if we're not consistent for the full 90 minutes then other teams will hurt you at this level," she said.
"For the most part out performance was really good again, we were just lacking that clinical finish.
The result sees United remain in second place on the table ahead of Perth Glory's match later on against Adelaide United, and makes next weekend's clash with Melbourne Victory an absolute must-win to have hope of a home semi-final.
"We'll go home, recover and refresh and cast our mind forward to next week's game," Dower said.
The ever-improving Victory will be a tough opponent at McKellar Park next weekend, but with an undefeated McKellar record so far this season, United have reason to be confident.