Melbourne Victory shot themselves 'in the foot' vs. Newcastle - Kevin Muscat
Melbourne Victory must stop shooting themselves in the foot if they're to keep their A-League title push on track, frustrated coach Kevin Muscat says.
Victory were lax and largely outplayed by Newcastle in Monday night's goalless draw, just the second time they have failed to score this season.
It was a missed opportunity to widen the seven-point gap on third-placed Brisbane, while Sydney FC now lead the league by 11 points with eight regular-season games remaining.
Victory now have one win from the last five games.
The result was also their ninth winless match in 10 outings at McDonald Jones Stadium, a veritable graveyard for the three-time champions.
Muscat lamented his side's lack of intensity and structure in a sluggish first term, when uncharacteristic turnovers afforded the enterprising Jets possession and territory.
"All their attacking movement came from us giving the ball away, especially square," Muscat said.
"When you're playing the ball square to someone you've got to be safe.
"When we do win the ball back a lot of [our] players are going forward.
"You decide to go square and it gets cut out, you're eliminating up to five of your teammates.
"We shot ourselves in the foot. We walk away frustrated, very, very frustrated."
The Victory didn't spring to life until the final 20 minutes when Daniel Georgievski hit the woodwork -- one of nine shots to Newcastle's 18 -- and could count themselves lucky their hosts on occasions lacked polish.
Perhaps more concerning is that the lower-placed Jets, who have now squeezed into the top six, kept attacking stars Marco Rojas and Besart Berisha quiet.
Muscat was reluctant to reflect on his team's rapidly dwindling Premiers' Plate hopes.
"That ain't going to help me," he said. "What I can change from now until Central Coast [on Sunday] is our performance ... so I'll spend all my energy there."