Tullamarine was left to rue a sub-par performance which ended its Essendon District Football League division 1 season.
Hoping to make the grand final for a second successive year, the Demons were left shattered on Saturday afternoon after their loss to East Keilor in the preliminary final.
The Demons struggled early but were able to work themselves into the game in the second half.
Nothing separated the two teams, with the Cougars sealing the win with two minutes to go, winning 10.14 (74) – 9.10 (64).
Tullamarine coach David Connell said it was a disappointing way to finish the season.
“We had a poor first half and we weren’t able to get it on our terms,” he said.
“The first quarter was OK but we didn’t take full advantage of our opportunities.
“They seemed to be able to get it on their terms. The boys were gutsy in the second half without playing well and got back into a position to win it.”
The Cougars led by one point at the last break and it was anyone’s game in the final quarter.
Connell said for much of the quarter, it felt like the next goal would win. Ultimately, that’s how it played out.
“We couldn’t get that next goal to go in front,” he said. “The whole last seven minutes there was a kick in it … They kicked one with two minutes to go to seal it.”
Anthony Prestia and Brad Allen kicked two goals each for the Demons.
Jonathan Hardman was solid all day, while 18-year-old backman Tim Matson showed why he is a talent to watch in the future.
Caleb Harward and Cameron Hare were the others to put in strong performances.
Adding insult to injury, Tim Barressi has a suspected broken ankle which occurred in the last two minutes of the game.
The Demons performance on Saturday summed up their season – inconsistent.
After making a grand final last season, Connell said looking back now, this season was a failure.
“We obviously struggled with consistency, not only week-in week-out, but inside games.
“About round 11 or 12 we were a game clear on top and in a good position. “The last eight weeks we haven’t played our best football.”
Connell, though, gave credit to the other sides in the finals, saying there were four really good teams in the top four.
He said the top three were really close all year and someone was always going to miss out. East Keilor now face Craigieburn in the grand final on Saturday at Windy Hill.
The Demons’ under-19s also lost their preliminary final.