Adelaide United were outplayed by Western Sydney Wanderers as they went down 1-4 in Round 12 of the W-League.
The Reds needed the three points to work on cementing a maiden finals appearance, whereas Western Sydney were playing for some pride as their hope for finals is well and truly over. It was the underdogs, the Wanderers, who showed a never say die attitude to outclass United on the day.
United made two changes to the line-up from last week, with Isabel Hodgson and Emily Condon replacing Fanndis Fridriksdottir and Gunnhildur Jonsdottir due to international duty. Rachel Lowe replaced Georgia Yeoman-Dale, and Talitha Kramer also started for the Wanderers.
Adelaide couldn't afford to be complacent despite their opponents only having one point. And as unpredictable as the W-League has been this season, Lowe kicked things off by heading in the opener for the Wanderers from a set-piece in just the second minute.
Adelaide would not go down without a fight as they passed around and tried to keep possession to work their way up forward but didn't have a lot of luck. However, the visitors also continued to press, and were the one's to cause chaos inside the penalty area and put the Adelaide defence under pressure.
Hodgson sent a ball over to Michelle Heyman, but she was ruled offside. At the other end, an impressive Elizabeth Addo fired a shot from distance but it was collected by Sarah Willacy.
Sydney Miramontez persisted on piling on the pressure as she also fired a shot from distance, but it went over the bar. It was a slower start than usual for Adelaide as they had no real chances on goal for almost 20 minutes.
The Reds looked hopeful in the 25th minute as some nice play broke out from Amber Brooks who released Condon who then cut-back to Veronica Latsko but her left-footed shot showed no harm for Nicole Simonsen.
The PFA W-League Player of the Month, Latkso, pulled one back for her side as she broke the offside trap, rounded Simonsen and finished off Brooks' lovely ball over the defence to make it 1-1 before half-time and get her ninth goal of the season. Despite the many chances the Wanderers continued to create, they weren't able to find the back of the net for a second time.
After the break, both sides had their fair share of the ball, but Adelaide defended much better and limited Western Sydney's chances on goal.
Looking more confident, Heyman caught the ball on the break and sent a through ball to Latsko, who was dispossessed fairly. 54 minutes in, Brooks played in a sumptuous ball for Heyman, but her efforts when over the crossbar.
On the hour mark, Addo was brought down by Dylan Holmes and Kylie Ledbrook ultimately converted the spot-kick to regain the lead.
As play went on, Addo was dominant and remained a constant threat to Adelaide, forcing saves out of Willacy, who was also impressive and held her own.
Erica Halloway furthered the lead with a fabulous strike over Willacy to make it 1-3 and Addo wrapped up an admiring performance as she scored the fourth. Adelaide lacked the firepower but it didn't help that their forwards were not being fed the ball. Diagonal passes weren't working as there wasn't enough build-up play.
Adelaide Head Coach, Ivan Karlovic said it came down to being second best.
"We were second best all day and deserved what we got out of the game, and you can't expect to get a result when there was poor skill errors and no intent or desire.
"It was just one of those days where we had too many players who didn't show the intensity.
"Going a goal down very early didn't help and the Wanderers just had that hunger, and they're a side that hasn't had a win all year so they showed that desperation.
"Unless you match that desperation, you're always going to be second best and I don't think we matched that.
"In our next two games we need to make the play a bit more and keep the ball moving quickly and look to find little spaces, but I thought we forced it today and played the ball into their hands.
"It was just one of those days and we have been fantastic all season, so if we can get two wins in our next two games, I dare say we will play finals, it's not all doom and gloom."
Karlovic is confident that his side is resilient and possesses enough quality to move forward and go on to win the next two home matches against Newcastle Jets and Brisbane Roar.
"They're a good group, they'll bounce back and it was just a bump in the road for us and there is plenty to play for in the next two weeks.
"We have the quality and we'll get a couple of our international players back next week and that will obviously strengthen the side.
"When you take two players of that calibre out of the squad, it does make a difference but i saying that, we had more than enough quailty on the park today and I don't think not having the two Icelandic players was the resulting factor."