BAYSWATER held its finals destiny in its own hands going into its clash with Mulgrave on Saturday.
But an 11-point loss to the Lions has left the Waters relying on fourth-place Donvale losing one of its final two matches to make the Eastern Football League division 2 top four.
Waters coach Neil Winterton said he was very disappointed his side had not matched the Lions in desperation despite needing every win they could get to make the finals.
"If we had won we would be in the top four and in control of our own destiny, " he said.
"Now we have to win our last two games and rely on Donvale dropping a game.
"Mulgrave was more desperate than us and that was also disappointing."
The Waters trail Donvale by two points but have a superior percentage.
The Waters face Upper Ferntree Gully (home) and Waverley Blues (away) to end the season and will start as heavy favourites to win both games.
Donvale visits the Blues this Saturday and faces Mooroolbark in its final match.
"That Mooroolbark game is a tough one but Donvale is more than capable of beating them," Winterton said.
While he paid tribute to the Lions, who had "improved in leaps and bounds", Winterton also felt the absence of five of the Waters' tallest players had given the Lions an advantage.
Lions key forward Adam Booth had his best performance of the season, kicking seven goals.
"Booth is one of the best key forwards in the competition when he is firing and we struggled to contain him, " Winterton said. "We were really undersized across the board but it was no excuse, Mulgrave deserved the win."
Waters senior players Adam Jones, Russell Comb and Daniel McLachlan are all expected to return to the side this weekend. Winterton said the returning players would give the Waters their best possible side.
Despite the letdown, Winterton said his side was still optimistic about its finals chances.
"On our day we can beat any side in the competition," he said.
"But for whatever reason we have struggled to reproduce that form week in, week out.
"We haven't lost hope. The players realise we still have a chance to play finals and if we get there can still play a big part in it."
Waverley Blues 16, 67.01; Doncaster 12, 70.42. -Roy Ward
EFL division 2: Rowville 56 points, 174.81 per cent; Montrose 52, 180.04; Mooroolbark 52, 132.64; Donvale 34, 99.07; Bayswater 32, 115.47; Doncaster East 26, 81.84; Upper Ferntree Gully 24, 76.98; Mulgrave 16, 74.66.