Sunbury United put in a better performance against ladder-leader Epping City this time around, but it still wasn’t enough to claim the points in FFV state league 3 north-west.

After being smashed by Epping the first time they played, Sunbury was keen to show that it was a better team than that performance.

Epping scored early in both halves to lead 2-0 in the 47th minute, with Sunbury slow out of the blocks.

A late Sunbury penalty reduced the margin to 2-1, but it ran out of time to find a second goal to take home a point.

Sunbury’s Daniel Moore said they were a lot happier with their performance this time around.

He said they had learnt a lot from the first time they played Epping and it showed on the field.

“It was an interesting game,” he said. “We were looking to make amends. The first half wasn’t too good, but the second half was much better. If the game went longer, we think we could have got something out of it.

“We got a penalty in the 89th minute and scored and at that stage we looked the better side. The boys put in everything, they just fell short.”

Jayden Mercieca scored Sunbury’s goal, his 12th goal of the season.

The loss leaves Sunbury still in sixth position and despite dropping three of the past four matches, it remains in the finals mix.

Only five points separates second to sixth, with Sunbury having a game in hand.

Moore said they need to take the confidence they’ve gained from the past two weeks against Williamstown and Epping for the remainder of the season.

“We had three losses in a row and it was a setback in the promotion push,” he said.

“Last week we had a good win against Williamstown which put us back in the frame.

“There’s only a few points between the top six.

“If we win the catch-up game, it puts us right back up there.

“We’re going into every game knowing we need the result if we want to stay in contention.”

In state league 5 west, Gisborne had a 4-0 win against Deakin Ducks on Saturday.

Joseph Cavoli scored twice for Gisborne with Joshua Birkett and Callan Haynes each finding the back of the net.

Gisborne sits second, nine points behind Westside Strikers and two points clear of third-placed Keilor Wolves.

The top two teams will earn promotion.