A missed penalty and a deadlocked-score with 20 minutes to go were not enough to stop Canberra Croatia FC adding a missing piece of silverware to their collection.
The scores were locked at 1-1 at half-time, but Croatia proved they were back to their winning ways against West Canberra Wanderers after claiming a 4-1 victory in the Federation Cup final.
A Brittany Palombi hat trick proved the difference for the side at Deakin Stadium. The left winger sent in an apparent cross from outside the 18-yard to open the scoring in the fifth minute. It arched over Wanderers' goalkeeper Janet King at the near post and into the back of the net to go 1-0.
It should have been 2-0 ten minutes later, after a cross from Palombi found the feet of Olivia Fogarty unmarked in front of goal but her strike cleared the crossbar.
Wanderers soon replied by taking advantage of the match's first corner in the 23rd minute. Alex Mckenzie sent the ball in and Emma Stanbury got a touch, to find the feet of Ana Sofia Chaverra to hammer home.
Croatia dropped their tempo with the equaliser and Wanderers began to lift.
CCFC were coming off their first defeat in 19 games and coach Nik Brozinic said it helped fuel a fire in his side's performance in the Cup final.
"We made it a big point in our preseason and when we were doing our goal setting sessions early on, the Fed Cup was really important to us this year," he said.
"Obviously we'd love to go on and win the remaining two trophies as well, but this is the first step in achieving our goals this season."
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Stanbury, Wanderers' player/coach, said her side played a good defensive game throughout and their game plan was working until the second Croatia goal.
"The girls were shattered but also proud of themselves," she said.
"We started to get momentum going forward and a second goal that shouldn't of happened helped switch the momentum back to Croatia's favour.
"It was all or nothing. So I changed our formation to a three-five-two knowing it would either bounce us back or [not]."
The goal in question broke the deadlock in the 78th minute. A one-two by Chantel Jones and Grace Gill, saw Stanbury tripped, and led to a cut back into the box for Palombi to slot away.
After midfielder Jennifer Bisset's legs were taken out in the box, it granted Croatia a chance to extend their lead by two. Palombi stepped up to the spot to claim her third in the 86th minute, but her shot rattled the crossbar and Jones did not miss in her follow up to make it 3-1.
Determined to claim her third, the former Australian Schoolgirl representative made no mistake with her next chance. A lofted pass from Gill found Jones' head in the box, who sent it into Palombi's path to make it 4-1 in the 90th minute.
Wanderers will have a chance to seek revenge on Croatia next weekend in round nine of the NPLW.
In the FFA Cup regional final, Tigers FC took a win 5-2 against the Monaro Panthers FC. The Tigers will now progress to the FFA Cup Round of 32 to face other regional winners and A-League sides.
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