Canberra FC claimed a record 22nd league championship and their first since 2013 with a pulsating 3-2 victory against Cooma Tigers FC at Deakin Stadium on Sunday.
Postponed Round 12 catch-up match - Review
Sunday 23rd August 2015
Canberra FC 3 (Thomas James 5, 56, Dominic Giampaolo 54) def Cooma Tigers FC 2 (Alex Oloriegbe 68, Dejan Santrac 95)
Needing all three points to leap-frog Tigers FC and Belconnen United from third to top spot, a double to English striker Thomas James delivered the goods for the most successful club in ACT history.
Canberra FC finished with 36 points, ahead of Tigers FC (34), Belconnen United (34) and the FFA Centre of Excellence (28). With the FFA COE ineligible for the finals, Canberra Olympic qualified with a 1-1 draw with Gungahlin United at O'Connor Enclosed.
Olympic's superior goal difference put them ahead of Gungahlin and set up an elimination final showdown with Belconnen United at Deakin Stadium next Saturday. Canberra FC will host Tigers FC at McKellar, also on Saturday, but Capital Football will confirm the venues this week.
Canberra FC coach Zoran Glavinic said a lot of hard work had gone into reclaiming the league title.
"I'm so proud of everyone involved and it means a lot to the club," Glavinic said. "Considering we lost the grand final last year on a penalty shootout, winning the grand final is the next step.
"Our next goal is our match with the Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday night and then we look at Cooma on Saturday."
Tigers FC would have won the league title had they not been stripped of three points for exceeding the Visa-restricted players rule, but they also dropped two points in a 4-4 draw with the FFA COE two weeks ago.
Canberra FC led 3-0 before goals to Alex Oloriegbe and Dejan Santrac in the final minute of injury time added late drama.
Canberra Olympic 1 (Callum Smith 32) drew with Gungahlin United 1 (Nathan Tidmarsh 24) at O'Connor Enclosed.
Olympic were as elated to get through to the finals, surviving a nervous finish to keep their season alive. After Olympic's Callum Smith cancelled out Nathan Tidmarsh's opener for Gungahlin in the first half, Olympic hung on as Robbie Cattanach cleared Jack Green's header off the line in injury time.
Olympic finish the season with the best defensive record in the league, having conceded 21 goals in 16 games, and reached the finals despite a huge turnover in personnel.
"To make the finals is huge for us because we lost 14 players last year who played first grade and six of those were to Gungahlin," Olympic coach Frank Cachia said.
"It's a massive achievement. I don't think anyone will think that we're some sort of pushover."