Sydney FC stumbled into the W-League final series despite falling to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Melbourne City at WIN Stadium on Thursday night.
In a repeat of last season’s grand final, City again proved too classy for the Sky Blues in testing wet and windy conditions in Wollongong.
Second half goals from Yukari Kinga and Tameka Butt ruined Shellharbour product Caitlin Foord’s homecoming game.
It ended Sydney’s hopes of securing the Premiers Plate, but the result ensured the Sky Blues will still take their place in the final series.
City needed a miracle on the final day of the season to keep their campaign alive.
The Melbourne club were three points adrift of both Sydney and the fourth placed Perth Glory, but had to win by at least four goals to overturn an inferior goal difference.
The two goal margin means they will now rely on Melbourne Victory to beat Perth by more than three goals to make the post season.
City played with a strong wind at their back throughout the first half, but it was the hosts who fashioned the first major chance through Princess Ibini-Isei with eight minutes gone.
Savannah McCaskill played the pacey attacker in on goal before she forced Lydia Williams into an excellent reaction stop. City were awarded a shock penalty in the 12th minute when Tameka Butt was brought down off the ball despite possession falling comfortably to Sky Blues keeper Aubrey Bledsoe. It mattered little as City's Kinga blazed her effort from penalty spot wide of the mark, much to the delight of a healthy Sydney contingent in the Western stand.
A goal line clearance from skipper Teresa Polias just three minutes later added to the pressure on the Sydney goal as City searched for an elusive opener.
The Sky Blues looked to get some respite five minutes before half time when they had a penalty shout of their own.
However, Ibini-Isei's desperate pleas were waved away after she was sandwiched between City duo Theresa Nielsen and Lauren Barnes. Sydney would have been happy to go into the break on level terms, but parity only lasted until 21 minutes into the second half.
Kinga atoned for her penalty miss in the first half when she pounced first on Jasmyne Spencer's cross and buried it in the bottom corner.
It gave City less than half an hour to pull off their rescue mission. They’d have to wait until the 85th minute to give those hopes a further shot in the arm after Tameka Butt finished off a well-worked move. It could prove too little, too late. Illawarra Stingrays keeper Trudy Burke was an unused substitute for Sydney.