Wagga United coach Travis Weir is searching for answers after his side fell to another Pascoe Cup loss on Friday night.
The men in orange looked set to re-rail their season against Cootamundra after building a 2-0 lead at half-time but were cruelled by an injury to regular goalkeeper Andrew McCracken, who was forced to leave the field.
With back-up goalkeeper Gareth Veitch unavailable due to Wanderers commitments on Saturday, United were forced to play midfielder Richard Hovarth in goals.
The Strikers sensed an opportunity and Brent Farnsworth converted a free kick to give Cootamundra a sniff just after oranges.
Further goals to Derek Krogh and Steve Armstrong saw the Strikers home, condemned United to their sixth loss in eight games.
Weir said the game epitomised his side’s “luckless” run in 2018.
“That goalkeeping injury meant we had to change our system and that really allowed Coota back into the game,” he said.
“Richard did everything I asked of him, if not more, but it was the build up to those three goals that really disappointed me.”
Weir expressed “disappointment” at not being able to call upon regular trio Veitch, Prince Thompson and Tyler Allen and fired shots at the Wanderers for being “greedy” with club players.
“I’m really frustrated that our Wanderers players like Gareth (Veitch), Prince (Thompson) and Tyler (Allen) aren’t allowed to play when there’s a clash,” he said.
“We (clubs) should be the stepping stone for Wanderers but you shouldn’t only be allowed to play for the Wanderers.”
In response, Wagga City Wanderers director Brendan Flanagan said representative soccer took “precedence” over local competition and clubs had been notified of this last November.
“Obviously you can’t have a player playing the night before at club level and then giving 100 per cent the next day,” Flanagan said.
Meanwhile, Cootamundra are flying high after their fourth win in five weeks and Strikers captain Adam McPhail is pleased with his side’s form despite another slow start.
“It was a good result for us even though we started really poorly. I think we let them dictate things early on,” McPhail said.
“They (United) pass the ball around a fair bit and they put us on the back foot but I think we rallied well in the second half.”