Hoppers Crossing coach Shaun Barbara remains “as confident as ever” after his side suffered its first loss of the season.
The Reds went down to fellow Football Federation Victoria men’s state league 2 title aspirant Altona City at Kim Reserve on Saturday night.
On a night the Reds intend to forget about quickly, they were knocked off top spot, the damage inflicted by one of their biggest rivals.
“I think we’re disappointed to lose any game,” Barbara said.
“There is a bit of local rivalry within the west with Altona City, but certainly for us, at this stage of the season, and considering the start we’ve got off to, it’s certainly disappointing to get a loss on the board, regardless of who it is.
“It’s a game, it’s done, it’s over and it’s forgotten about.
“It’s all about how we respond now and our response starts at training on Tuesday.”
The night could not have started worse for Hoppers Crossing.
An own goal from centre-back Jack Spargo inside 10 minutes gifted the early lead to City.
For Spargo, it was a sign of things to come, as he would later pick up an ankle injury that could see him miss Saturday’s clash with Corio at Grange Reserve.
While Hoppers Crossing controlled much of the play, particularly in the second half, the scoreline could have been worse had it not been for a Fab Albuquerque clearance off the line.
Chances for Altona City were few and far between with most of its shots coming from long range and barely raising a sweat for Hoppers Crossing goalkeeper Kieron Sharratt.
With Hoppers Crossing pressing for an equaliser, Altona City pounced on the counter-attack, scoring an insurance goal through Marcus Sherif with 10 minutes to go.
“We changed our shape to three at the back and committed numbers forward to try and get a goal, but they caught us on the break,” Barbara said.
The pain of the loss will be temporary for Hoppers Crossing. Barbara says his side holds a 5-1 record for a reason and the 90 minutes against Altona City have not changed his thinking.
“The boys have done all the hard work, they’ve prepared themselves,” he said.
“Is it a surprise to me that we’re 5-1? No. Is it a nice situation to be in? Absolutely.”
In men’s state league 4, Point Cook thumped Newmarket Phoenix 8-1 at Saltwater Reserve.
Morgan Filer, Zac Osborne and Jonathan Dunn scored two goals apiece for the Jets, who are up to second on the ladder.
Truganina Hornets suffered a narrow 1-0 loss to Altona North in the western derby at Duane Reserve.
In the NPL, Werribee City has broken its long drought, claiming a first win since March in downing Springvale White Eagles 3-1 at Galvin Park on Sunday.