Altona Magic has taken baby steps forward in each of its first three games since its promotion to top flight National Premier League.
The Magic notched up a little milestone by securing its first point in a 2-2 draw with Hume City at Paisley Park Soccer Complex on Saturday evening.
Magic coach Goran Lozanovski feels his side is not getting reward for effort and that one point from three matches is not reflective of the players output.
“We’re playing in a tougher league and [with] better footballers around you, so if you make errors you get punished,” he said.
“Unfortunately for us, we’ve been punished a few times for our errors. I’m confident enough that it will turn for us.
“Moving forward, I think we’re a top six team.”
Twice Altona had to fight back to earn a share of the points with Hume City.
The Magic trailed after 15 minutes when James Brown put City ahead, but Michiel Hemmen produced an equaliser in the 31st minute.
Hemmen was the beneficiary of some nice combination play in the build-up by the Magic, with captain Troy Ruthven moving the ball out wide to John Stojcevski, whose dangerous ball into the box was cheekily flicked on by Dusan Bosnjak into the path of Hemmen for a tap in.
Again Altona found itself on the back foot, conceding to Ersin Kaya in the 40th minute.
It was a lead that Hume City held until the 75th minute, when Bosnjak swivelled to power home a goal from the edge of the box.
The outcome was bittersweet for Lozanovski, who was proud of the fighting qualities shown by the Magic players, but frustrated by their inability to lock it down at the back.
The Magic have conceded 2.33 goals a game across their first three matches and that is costing them points.
“At the moment, it’s a bit frustrating because we’ve been caught in transition a few times,” he said. “It’s something we need to work on and become a lot better at. We did well to get ourselves back in the game.
“Twice we went behind and twice we found equalisers.
“We also had two really good chances in the second half that we didn’t take.
“[James] McGarry got a really good cut back inside the 18-yard box and skied it over the bar and Ruthven hit one straight at the keeper.
“The first half we hit the crossbar and hit the post – we were very unlucky not to take three points.”
The Magic was missing explosive winger Daniel Kuczynski (hamstring) and Robert Stambolziev (calf).
Sam Mitchinson earned praise for his performance out of position in the midfield, while McGarry, Ruthvan and Ross Archibald were among the Magic’s better players for their work tireless through the midfield on a day when temperatures were in the high 30s.
“It was tiring and at one stage everyone felt like ripping their tops off it was that hot,” Lozanovski said.
“I really felt for the boys, but the positive sign is we ran the game out quite strong and we were all over them in the end.”
Altona will travel to Dandenong Thunder on Saturday night in search of its first win of the campaign.
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