They knew it would prove costly, but it was only on the last day of the season that the Wollongong Wolves found out just how crucial an early season points deduction would be.
The Wolves saw their finals hopes crushed in round 22 despite chalking up an emphatic 6-1 victory over Sydney FC at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
The bittersweet triumph saw Wollongong finish sixth in the NSW NPL Men’s 1.
However, had it not been for a points deduction from their round one win over cellar dwellers Parramatta, the Wolves would have qualified for the post-season over Sydney Olympic on goal difference. Wollongong were deducted three points and slapped with a 3-0 loss after playing two suspended players in their opening round victory. Wolves coach Jacob Timpano was gutted by the conclusion.
“It’s obviously pretty disappointing,” he said. “It was our aim to make finals at the start of the season and we got enough points to get there in the end, but unfortunately we won’t be there.”
Wollongong saved their best performance of the season for their final game.
They took the advantage in the 22nd minute and always looked to have the Sky Blues measure. Peter Simonoski fed Brendan Griffin, who finished well past Thomas Heward-Belle to open the scoring.
Andreas Agamemnonos levelled the scores for the Sky Blues 14 minutes later with a classy finish before Patrick Antelmi put Wollongong back in front from the penalty spot moments before half time.It was all the Wolves in the second half.
In what was one of the most polished attacking displays of the campaign, they scored four unanswered goals after the break. Antelmi put one on a platter for Hayes to make it 3-1 in the 49th minute before the talented attacker scored one of his own just a minute later.
With Wollongong keeper Justin Pasfield repelling several Sydney attacks, Wollongong went up the other end and finished the job. Griffin got his second 13 minutes from time before Antelmi got his hat-trick to complete a superb second half performance.
“I told the boys at half time that it was the best half of football we had played all year and then we came out in the second half and did more than that,” Timpano said.
“It was the complete performance today. Unfortunately we just missed out on finals but the character the boys showed today as been there all year.”