In what may have been the most important game to date for the City soccer team, holding a chance to move up to third and even into second by the end of the weekend, the Premier team caught a case of go-it-alone as several players went against team strategy and it ended up costing them the game.
Following a strong showing last Friday against the Guelph Oaks, a game they rallied to win 3-1, and one which captain Keith Donnelly credited as "a whole team effort," the Premier team lost 4-2 to Al's Motors on Tuesday.
And it was anything but a whole team effort according to Premier coach John Donnelly.
"I was really disappointed with the effort of some of the lads. The goal to tie came off a header that was easily defendable and the one for them to win on, was just plain lazy," Donnelly said in a late night interview after the game.
City had jumped out to a 2-0 lead after only 10 minutes into the first half and was looking like they might walk away with it.
Al's Motors, who has been a top contender all year, flirting with first on occasion, looked back on their heels as they seemed to have no answer for the quick Stratford counter attack.
Stratford system of traditionally laying back, sucking in the opposing team and then quickly counter attacking was working to perfection as it resulted in the two quick goals from Tommy Dorrian and Sean Beech.
But, towards the end of the half, some of the Stratford players seemed to get edgy at the amount of time Al's was holding on to the ball, they pushed forward, straying from the team strategy and relinquished one goal because of it.
"We came into the dressing room at the half, we had the 2-1 lead, but some of the guys were concerned that Al's was holding on to the ball too much and wanted to start pushing forward to press them," Donnelly said. "I wasn't that concerned about it, they were a 100 feet away from our net, I was content to let them play with the ball out there all they wanted."
Donnelly didn't want to call out any players specifically and took some of the criticism on to himself.
"I have to take some of the blame. I made some substitutions that changed the dynamic on the field. It was a mistake now, I see that. That and I should have been more firm with the guys at half. Told them that no, it's working fine the way it is, we're sticking to it."
The soft approach killed them, as City got caught up in chasing down the quick one touches that Al's Motors does so well, and the 2-1 lead quickly turned into a 4-2 loss.
Al's scored at the 65th minute, the 69th and 75th.
"I wasn't happy to give up four goals period, but the way in which we did it made it even worse. Guys weren't running back to help, they were caught up doing their own thing."
As well as the structural breakdown, Donnelly attributes the loss to other things as well.
"I think we were getting too far ahead of ourselves. We were looking down the road a bit, the guys knew we could be in second by the end of the weekend and I think we were looking a game or two ahead of ourselves."
The Stratford Club had been undefeated in four games, something they've never done while up in the Premier division.
Donnelly doesn't rule out the possibility of ego coming into play.
"Going up 2-0 the way we did, the guys were feeling pretty good. We'd been on a roll as of late. We'd been reading the positive media, knowing that we were undefeated in the last four and in territory that no Stratford team has been before, I think we thought we were a little better than we were.
"This team works well at doing the little things. Forget about the big picture and do the small things and the result will fall into place. We were looking larger than we should."
They'll be looking ahead to this Friday though as they get set to face Arta-SC as they return home for the first time in three games.
"Fatigue is certainly going to be a factor for us. We're playing four games in 13 days."