THERE is little to be gained from bemoaning a lack of luck and to his credit CQ Cougars coach Joe Fenech usually points to other factors.
However, he and the crowd at Jardine Park were left scratching their heads at how the home team went in at the interval a goal down to league leaders Brisbane Strikers.
For the first 40 minutes of the game the home team placed the Strikers under the type of pressure they usually like to exert on their opponents.
Chances were created regularly and squandered with careless abandon as the Strikers were made to look less than comfortable playing the ball out of defence.
It all began in the opening minutes, when Chris Swain was through with just the keeper to beat after capitalising on some sloppy defensive work by the visitors.
However, as he was getting his shot lined up a timely tackle thwarted that opportunity.
Within minutes there was an even better chance for the Cougars to take the lead as Swain set up top-scorer Sander Waterland with just 'keeper David Chalmers to beat. Waterland's weak shot was pushed out by the 'keeper but only as far as Swain who volleyed the ball over the crossbar of the empty goal.
With neither Johnathon Sauer nor Michael Cay fit to play, the Cougars still adopted the formation the coach had indicated his team would use, with Swain the front-runner and Rudi Mozr retaining his place at fullback rather than being displaced by Sauer.
For the majority of the first half the plan worked perfectly.
With the Cougars defending high up the park the Strikers showed signs of frustration as they tried to build their attacks.
Jordan Miller, who like Swain was causing the Strikers a few headaches with his pace, came close to forcing a low Waterland centre home and then another half-chance fell to the youngster after work by Swain, but he was unable to keep the ball down.
In the latter part of the half the Strikers gave notice that they hadn't shown up to just make the most of the winter sun, with Greg King breaking free and bringing a great save from Tim English.
However, the chances continued to be created at the other end, with an Edmar Goncalves volley just clearing the cross bar, while Waterland turned the wrong way with the ball when he was offered a great opportunity to put Mozr in for a shot.
With half-time beckoning the Strikers' top goal-scorer Matt Thurtell showed the Cougars how easy it is to find the net when he got in behind the defensive line, rounded English and rolled the ball home off an upright.
Any thoughts the afternoon heat would work in the Cougars' favour were quickly dispelled as the Strikers dismantled the Cougars rearguard in the second half.
Chris DiSipio made it 2-0 when a dubious free kick to the Strikers was taken quickly and he darted through to smash the ball home.
Sean Burke made it 3-0 as the Cougars were caught square again, allowing the deeper-lying players to run through the holes to receive the ball.
The Cougars tried hard to pull one back but their efforts were in vain.
To add to the Cougars' misery, Thurtell completed the scoring in the dying seconds as he lobbed the ball over English, who had been left exposed again by his defence.
For the Cougars Swain and Millar had their moments, especially in the first half, and the display by Troy Ruthven was his best this year.