Look away, Cootamundra fans.
The Strikers’ unlikely finals dream has become even more difficult after Football Wagga revealed it accidentally allocated an additional point to Cootamundra on the Pascoe Cup competition ladder.
The error occurred while registering the results of the round 15 clash between South Wagga and Cootamundra, a game won 2-1 by South Wagga.
However, updated competition ladders allocated a scoreless draw to the fixture, raising concerns over a potential forfeiture.
Football Wagga operations manager David Merlino said it was simply a technical error that led to the points being incorrectly assigned.
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“The score will be changed and updated to reflect the 2-1 result between South Wagga and Cootamundra,” Merlino said.
Cootamundra skipper Adam McPhail was unaware of any points mix-up but has been left with an even bigger mountain to climb after his side’s 20 competition points was shaved to 19 ahead of two must-win clashes with Young and Junee.
“We didn’t really know anything about it but, yeah, I guess it makes our job a little bit harder,” McPhail said.
Cootamundra are now five points away from sixth-placed Wagga United on the ladder and need the men in orange to not garner a single point from their final two games if they’re to have any reasonable chance of sneaking into this year’s top-six finals series.
The news has also come at the worst possible time with the Strikers struggling to put an A-team on the paddock.
“Aaron Kemp, Joshua Purtell, Nick Ashe, Bugsy (Brent Farnsworth), Eu Jern Tan and Max Holder – all those players are all out at the moment,” McPhail said.
“We’ve just had a crazy run of injuries and we’ve had so many blokes go down.”
It’s a toll more dramatic than a Neymar dive and McPhail is struggling to keep a first grade side together.
“We’ve played the past few games with four, five blokes from second grade as well, so it’s been a tough year for them too,” he added.
Here’s the formula for an unlikely Cootamundra finals appearance.
Revisit the biggest games of the year:
The Strikers need two wins and will also have to rely on either Leeton (25 points) losing their final two games of the year to Henwood Park and Tumut by considerable margins and/or Wagga United (24 points) earning no more than failing to earn a competition point against Lake Albert and Young in their upcoming games.
Should Leeton even secure one point during their final fortnight, they’ll likely be safe due to their superior goal difference (+5).
The same goes for United (+10) who boast an 18-goal advantage over Cootamundra (-8) and can lock down a finals berth with a victory against either the Sharks or Lions.
McPhail knows it’s a long shot and has set his sights on a six-point finish to the year.
“Hopefully we can get Nick and Purty back for the next game. Two wins would a nice way to go,” he said.
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