A roller-coaster season ended in fitting fashion for Ballarat City, with the growth of the club firmly on display in a thrilling two-all draw against top tier club Werribee City in the National Premier League two competition.
Head coach James Robinson's men clawed, scratched and almost came away with a win against a desperate Werribee outfit facing must-win circumstances to keep its promotion hopes alive.
Playing on the road, City took a 2-0 lead into half-time before absorbing all Werribee had to throw at them to walk away with the result.
It may seem like failure, but even a draw would have seemed unlikely three months ago with the young club locked in midst of a 14-game losing streak. But the second-half of the year provided cause for optimism, with the side only losing five of its last 12 games.
"It goes to show where the growth of the club has been to go up 2-0 against a top team," Robinson said.
"It's a positive part of the outlook to know that we're not just competing with the best teams, we're actually taking it to them and making them compete with us."
It took Ballarat 39 minutes before Jalil Regague opened City's scoring account with a double-effort strike off a set-piece. Ballarat doubled the advantage moments later when Daniel Angeleski found the back of the net off a counter attack.
Entering the main break in the drivers seat, City braced for an onslaught in the second-half kicking into the wind.
The first of Werribee's goals came 15 minutes into the half, before Alec Goodwin equalised with 25 minutes left to play.
Despite coming away with a point, Robinson said it was disappointing not to get a win.
"When you're up 2-0 you hope you can be resolute and put the game to bed but credit to Werribee, he said.
"But I've spoken about the growth of this group over the last 12 games and what this group has done together, so it was an appreciation of how proud I am of them all, and the journey we've been on so far."