Tony Popovic felt his Melbourne Victory side got what they deserved as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Wellington Phoenix on Wednesday night.
Victory are priced at 9/4 to win the 2021/22 minor premiership but dropped crucial points as they suffered just their second defeat of the season against the in-form Nix.
Victory had more than enough chances to take something from the game with Ben Folami, Josh Brillante and Marco Rojas all being denied by Phoenix goalkeeper Oli Sail.
They were then hit by a sucker punch in the 74th minute Jason Davidson gave the ball away in a critical area of the pitch and Reno Piscopo was on hand to fire home the winning goal.
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Popovic fumes at ref as Victory held
It was put to Popovic that the defeat was a hangover from the FFA Cup final win at the weekend but he felt there were a number of reasons for the loss.
"The conditions were different, we had to travel, it was a heavy pitch, there was a lot of different things today," he told reporters after the game.
"The keeper made some great saves, we should have taken those chances and hit the lead.
"In the second half I don't recall them having a shot on goal so we were good in that second half, but credit to them we made an error and they punished us, so in the end we got what we deserved."
Victory now have a heavy fixture schedule with games coming thick and fast and Popovic is hoping to have some fresh legs available for Saturday's clash with Newcastle.
"I think it will be this way now probably for the rest of the year, so we'll have to play every three or four days," Popovic added.
"You have to recover well, hopefully we get some of the senior boys back that we didn't have today to freshen some legs up."
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