Stingrays coach Brett Wallin felt a lack of composure cost Illawarra the chance to return to the winner’s circle against Football NSW Institute on Sunday.
Playing on home turf at JJ Kelly Park, the Rays had themselves in the box seat when they led by a two-goal margin twice in their blockbuster clash.
But they were unable to kill the game off as the Institute fought back in the second half to snatch a 3-3 draw.
In the big moments we lack that composure at the moment
Despite letting an opportunity slip, Wallin didn’t believe it came down to a lack of killer instinct from his side.
“The attitude and intensity isn’t the problem, but I think our composure is,” Wallin said.
”Our intensity, attitude, drive and all that kind of stuff that you would say is putting the foot on the throat, we have all of that in spades.
“We have got a great group of girls who bring all of that, but I just think in the big moments we lack that composure at the moment.”
Illawarra started the match on the right note when veteran striker Michelle Carney chipped in with a first half brace.
The goals took Carney’s to a league-leading total of 13 for the campaign.
The Institute got a goal back before the break before Tilly Kramer extended the margin to 3-1 early in the second half.
The goal wasn’t enough to halt the Institute’s challenge and the visitors got themselves back in the game when Princess Ibini-Isei converted a penalty.
They stole a share of the spoils not long after.
“We were on top early in both halves and pretty much all over them after scoring a couple of goals early. Then we lost our way a bit,” Wallin said.
“Our passing was quite poor and we handed the ball back to them.
“They are basically the young Australian team and are very good at holding the ball.
“We let them get a cheap goal in the first half and then went in at half time 2-1 but not looking too good for it.
“Then we came out and did the same thing in the second half.”
The draw keeps both Illawarra and Football NSW Institute level on 20 competition points, in second and third on the ladder respectively.
Macarthur Rams 3-0 win over Blacktown Spartans allowed them to move three points clear at the top of the ladder.