A last minute header from Kaine Good sealed back-to-back Illawarra District League grand final wins for Warilla as the Wanderers beat Helensburgh 1-0 at Wetherall Park on Saturday afternoon.
After a tense but entertaining contest, Good popped up at the right moment to snatch a dramatic decider success for the Wanderers.
The striker profited from some delightful work from Ben Ellul on the right flank and guided his header past the desperate hands of Braiden Gilbert.
The goal helped Warilla, who were appearing in their sixth grand final since 2011, complete their title defence.
It also continued coach Barney King’s imposing recent record in the competition.
“I think about 7-5 now so I am very pleased,” he said.
“You never get sick of this sort of day. It’s fantastic.
“I thought we had a goal in us.
“Credit to them. They did very well but I think we probably shaded them on the day.”
Warilla were in control from the outset, but couldn’t find the winning blow against a determined Thistle outfit.
After scraping into the sheds at 0-0, Helensburgh emerged with more purpose in the second half as Kei Mitani forced Wanderers gloveman Val Rizvani into action.
Warilla’s Adam White went even closer at the opposite end when his shot rocketed off the crossbar on the hour mark.
But the telling blow came right at the death.
Following some sustained Wanderers’ pressure, substitute Ellul worked some place on the wing and whipped in a cross for Good to head home.
“They took us right to the wire,” King said.
“I thought we had more chances than them and we didn’t play as well as we should of.
“Credit to Helensburgh because I thought they did exceptionally well.
“We got the wind in the second half and I thought things would have got a little easier. I thought we would have got a little closer to goal but to their credit, the defended well and my lads stuck to it.
“And what a time to score.”
Helensburgh player-coach Brad Boardman was devastated by the defeat, but couldn’t have been prouder of his troops.
“It’s heartbreaking,” he said.
“Everyone that is here can’t take [the fact we were in the game]. They scored scored 12 goals against us this year so for us to run them to 90 minutes.
“It was one lapse in concentration and that’s all it takes.
“I am so proud of my boys.
“With all the stuff that has gone on off the field. I got them at the start of the year as boys and now they are men.
“You can see the despair in their eyes because we believed we could win today. It is heartbreaking.”
Helensburgh survived three straight elimination finals to book their spot in the District League decider and were unbeaten in their past 11 matches heading into the final.