Team Wellington produced a tantalising performance of "what might have been" in beating Hawke's Bay United 4-2 in their season-ender on Saturday.
Hamish Watson grabbed a brace while Luis Corrales and Adam McGeorge were also on target at David Farrington Park.
All the more frustrating then that Hawke's Bay will be playing in the national league semifinals, and Wellington will not.
"I'm just satisfied with the second round, you know the last seven games," Wellington coach Matt Calcott told the league's website.
"We managed to win five, and the two defeats were last minute losses against Auckland City.
"I am happy with the performance today; we wanted to finish strong and on a positive note.
"We created a lot of chances, which is great to see, and the only negative from today is that we haven't made it into the playoffs."
Wellington finished fifth with a seven win, seven loss record.
Hawke's Bay now face a home and away playoff against minor premiers Waitakere United, with Auckland City and Canterbury United in the other two-legged semifinal.
"Historically 21 points has been able to get you to the playoffs, and those seven wins could have got us there in a different season," Calcott said.
"With everything that's gone on this year we've come through it, finished strong which is really positive, but congratulations to Hawke's Bay because they've kind of pipped us to the playoffs and best of luck to them next week."
Stephen Hoyle and Dakota Lucas were Hawke's Bay's goalscorers.
TEAM WGTN 4 HAWKE'S BAY 2
- The Dominion Post
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