Perth SC’s hopes of becoming the first WA team to win the NPL Finals Series are over for another year after they went down 2-0 to Wollongong Wolves in Sunday’s semi-final.
Thomas James struck the opener at Albert Butler Park and then turned provider in stoppage time for Takeru Okada as the New South Wales champions booked their spot in the showpiece game.
The deadlock was broken when Englishman James used his electric pace to burst behind the Azzurri defence and strike past Francis Soale at the second attempt on 29 minutes.
Luke Wilkshire’s side controlled the bigger share of possession and, despite late pressure, Perth could not force an opportunity to level against a flawless home defence.
Wolves hit Perth on the counter as the clock ticked past 90 with Japanese forward Okada making no mistake from a tight angle with the visitors’ defenders stranded up-field.
Perth, who won at Victorian side Heidelberg United last week, battled to the end but the NPL WA is still waiting to boast a national champion, with Bayswater City the state’s sole finalists in 2015.
Wollongong, who are playing in the NPL Finals Series for the first time, will host 2018 runners-up Lions FC in the Grand Final after the Queenslanders beat Maitland 2-0 on Saturday.
Watch a stream of the game below: