COACH Rob Stanton believes the Newcastle Jets are far more resilient than the start of the season, but knows that must learn to close out games.
The Jets gave up an injury-time equaliser to draw with a nine-man Western Sydney Wanderers at CommBank Stadium on Sunday night.
"I'm disappointed that we didn't manage the game at the end," Stanton said. "Maybe I could have done something different as well.
"Overall, I was happy with the performance in the second half. We were 10 times better. We controlled the game, we dictated tempo. We stayed in their half for long periods and we got our noses in front.
"For me that was really good. The disappointing thing was the goal. Once they got behind, they had to chance their hand and take risks."
It was the fifth game in which the Jets have conceded a goal in the last 10 minutes to drop points - potentially eight in total.
However, they have also scored late to snatch three draws to partly balance the ledger.
The Jets are in 10th place on 18 points, five adrift of sixth placed Sydney, who have played one less game.
Stanton expects his young squad will get better at "managing games".
"I'm not so sure it is a mental thing. I think it is a development thing," he said. "We have to build to that point. We have come a long way. We are really competitive. We are getting more resilient. We have evidence that we could be really good, but we still have a lot more growth before we get to that point.
I'm not so sure it is a mental thing. I think it is a development thing.- Rob Stanton
"Tired legs, opposition getting desperate. That is where you need your biggest leaders. We would like to bring in a couple more senior players next season."
Due to budget constraints, the Jets do not travel the day before to games in NSW. They complete the round trip on match day, which Stanton said may be a contributing factor to the late collapses.
"Driving down on the day is not great," Stanton said. "It takes its toll.
"Once the ownership is solved, it is something we will address. If you want to do things properly, the bare minimum is what everyone is doing - that is travelling the night before. Let the players prepare and get to the game nice and fresh and ready to go.
"It is more an accumulation of travel and short turnarounds. It is not an excuse why we didn't win. I understand the situation."
The Jets are on the road again, taking on cellar dwellers Western United in a must-win game at AAMI Park on Friday night.
"Over time you accumulate fatigue," Stanton said. "That might hurt us in this game as well. It is a five-day turnaround with travel."
Meanwhile, Jets goalkeeping coach Chris Bowling will return to training on Wednesday after surgery to remove his appendix.
Bowling, who was rushed to hospital on Saturday night, will resume off-field duties. Jets women's goalkeeper coach Andrew Goldman will do the on-field work and travel to Melbourne.