OAKLEIGH Cannons co-coach Peter Zois has blasted his players following a 2-0 loss to finals aspirant Northcote City at Jack Edwards Reserve on Friday night.
The Cannons went into the match needing a win to all but secure a double chance in the coming Victorian Premier League finals but instead they turned on one of their worst performances of the season.
The loss was their second consecutive loss at home and the second time in three matches the Cannons had conceded a goal in the opening minutes after a James Kalifatidis strike put the visitors 1-0 ahead after nine minutes.
Kalifatidis scored a second after City won a penalty late in the half, converting his spot kick to make it 2-0.
Zois said his side lacked effort and application in its past two home games.
"Playing with effort should be like taking your boots from your bag; it should be just something you do automatically," he said.
"We didn't do any of the things we wanted to do tonight and when you talk this much about effort, then we haven't even started talking about tactics so you are already struggling.
"Getting shots on goal wasn't our problem tonight; it was giving away stupid goals.
"You can't give away a goal in the first few minutes, it kills your game because you are chasing it the rest of the match."
Zois's mood was further soured after midfielder Dane Milovanovic went down late in the first half with a serious ankle injury following a heavy
Zois questioned why the tackle went unpunished while Milovanovic looks likely to miss the majority of the finals.
"Dane looks like he has torn ligaments in his ankle," he said.
"The referee was right on top of it, why did he say play on? I'm just asking the question.
"The player went in studs-up over the ball, now you have seen what has happened to Dane."
With the Cannons struggling in the lead-up to the finals, Zois said his players had to perform or changes would be made.
"We had our future in our own hands, now we will have to rely on other results to get the double chance and that doesn't feel good."
The Cannons face third-placed Bentleigh Greens at Kingston Health Soccer Complex this Sunday at 3pm.
■ The Victorian Premier League grand final will form a double-header with A-league club Melbourne Heart's home opener at AAMI Park on October 14.
The Heart will play Wellington Phoenix at 3pm, then the VPL final, which could include Oakleigh Cannons will follow at 5.30pm.