HAMILTON claimed their maiden minor premiership and West Wallsend caused the upset of the season to set up dramatic last-round relegation and fifth-place battles in the Northern NSW State League.
Olympic were the big winners of a chaotic penultimate round yesterday as Broadmeadow and Jets Youth lost to give Hamilton a shot at wrapping up top spot, which they did with a 2-1 win at Weston.
John Majurovksi (55th minute) and Dave Hodgson (65th) scored to give Hamilton the upper hand before Michael Ryan scored with 12 minutes to go for the Bears.
Olympic then hung on against a 10-man Weston to seal the first minor title of their 36-year history. Robbie Turnbull was sent off with 15 minutes to go.
It capped an amazing turnaround for Hamilton, who finished second-last in 2011 and had five points from as many rounds to start this campaign.
It was an especially sweet success for Olympic coach Michael Bolch, who was under pressure to get the competition heavyweights back on track.
‘‘After last year I was happy to keep the job,’’ Bolch said.
‘‘The boys have done really well. After the start we had, to go 12 games undefeated, with 11 wins, the boys deserve it.’’
At the other end of the table, last-placed West Wallsend shocked a 10-man South Cardiff 3-1 at Ulinga Oval to give themselves a shot at salvation from relegation.
The win lifted them to seven points, even with Lake Macquarie, who gave away two penalties and a 1-0 lead in a 3-1 loss to Valentine at Macquarie Field.
Lake Macquarie, who finished second last season, face a trip to West Wallsend, where they will need at least a draw to save themselves from relegation.
Westy’s win and Edgeworth’s 3-1 victory over Magic at Jack McLaughlan Oval gave the Eagles the edge in the fight with South Cardiff for the fifth and final play-off spot.
The Gunners dropped from fifth to sixth and have to defeat Hamilton next week and rely on Valentine denying the Eagles victory.
South Cardiff led 1-0 through a Dean Kelley goal in the first minute but trailed 3-1 at half-time thanks to a Ben Hughes double and a goal from Connor Evans.
Gunners coach Steve Piggott said his side, who went to 10 men when Stuart Pratt copped his second yellow card in the 80th minute, were miserable in the second half.
Edgeworth coach Gary Wilson praised his side’s work ethic and persistence after they outclassed Broadmeadow.
Chris Wheeler headed in goals in the 24th and 44th minutes, both times pouncing on errors from goalkeeper Chris Bowling.
Jon Griffiths side-footed into an open net for Magic’s goal in the 74th minute after a fumble from Edgeworth keeper Blake Redman.
But a goal from the Eagles in the 77th minute secured the win. The header was credited to Mark Wilson but it appeared to come off Magic defender Josh Piddington.
At Lisle Carr Oval, Charlestown ended the Jets’ minor premiership chances and gave themselves a chance at the top three with a 3-2 win.
The Blues trailed 2-0 early in the second half, but Scott Smith and Kane Goodchild levelled the score before a cracking shot from Adam Boulter with seven minutes to go gave them three points.
● Lambton Jaffas sealed the first division minor premiership and promotion to the state league with a 2-1 victory over Belmont Swansea at Arthur Edden Oval on Saturday.