Ballarat City didn't hide its disappointment after surrendering a one-goal lead to draw with Langwarrin in the National Premier League two competition on Saturday.
After conceding an equaliser in the 90th minute, Ballarat head coach James Robinson said despite gaining a point the club felt like it lost two.
But even a 1-1 scoreline against a top-end side like Langwarrin wouldn't have seemed possible for lowly-placed City two months ago.
Robinson said the result highlighted the path the team was treading.
"We wanted to win the individual battle, and we played with intent and purpose which created numerous opportunities," he said.
"It's about getting a full-game performance and we are seeing that more and more now."
Robinson described Ballarat's performance as dominant in the clash at Morshead Park.
After getting off to a good start, he said City put a stamp of authority on the game early, displaying the structure and ball movement practiced at training.
The precision translated to the scoreboard in the 45th minute when a well-worked passage, starting from the back-line, culminated in a goal off a Shaun Romein strike from outside the box.
"Shaun backed himself and it was a quality strike, the keeper had no chance," Robinson said.
But it wasn't City's play early that allowed Robinson cause for optimism following the match.
But rather the way his charges responded when challenged by their older counterparts in the second-half.
"I think they expected us to waver within that physicality, but not only did we match it, but we gave it as well. That shows you the growth, the players are going from playing like boys to young men," he said.
"Defensively we nullified their opportunities and manged to frustrate them."
Although the will was there, Langwarrin's class got the best of City when it got a shot off after travelling the length of the field.
The goal prevented a loss for the fourth-placed side which expressed relief at escaping with a point afterwards.
Robinson said the goal came after a lapse of concentration from his players in the middle of the park.
"We know we could've put the game to bed a lot earlier. But we will get better, and it's about taking the positives from where we've come from to where we are now," he said.
Robinson heaped praise on Romein and Jordan Lauton for their efforts in the middle of the park.