Ballarat has walked away from its Football Victoria state league five west debut pondering what might have been.
The Reds lost to Keilor Wolves 2-1 at Trekardo Park on Saturday, but had every chance to take the win.
While there was a lot to like about the game, coach Jamie Winton said Ballarat had had more than enough chances.
"We more than matched them. We created plenty of opportunities."
He said they had paid the price for what he described as a "bit of lax defending".
"We got caught out when the game could have gone either way.
"We had more than enough opportunities to finish the game off," Winton said. "We could have put the game away before they scored."
Ballarat and Lalor went to half-time locked at nil-all.
The Reds failed to take a one-on-one chance and then Keilor responded with two goals in quick succession.
Ballarat hit back by scoring from a corner.
Each side had opportunities to add to the scoreline, with Ballarat sending a shot over the bar with the last play of the match.
"I cannot fault their endeavour - that can't be doubted. We showed a lot of ticker."