23/04/2024

Adelaide United Ethan Cox claims a cross during his side's draw against Croydon FC. (Image: Adam Butler/@8zerokms.)

The MetroStars win big again, Campbelltown get revenge, and an improbable comeback made Round 10 of NPL SA 2023 one to remember.

Campbelltown exacts revenge

Campbelltown City 2-1 Adelaide City

Despite looking the most likely to advance at times, Campbelltown City was defeated by Adelaide City in the 2022 Finals Series for a spot in the Grand Final. The Black and White may have won the title, but they have not looked like their ruthless selves this campaign, meanwhile, the Red Devils have continued to impress.

Just six minutes into their first encounter in 2023, Marc Marino had already bypassed the lax City defence and had rounded goalkeeper Dakota Ochsenham with his shot from a tight angle being turned in by opposing defender Juan Gutierrez. The next attack of the game saw a persistent Nicholas Bucco, hellbent on getting his side level, go on a run and set up Matt Dawber for the equaliser.

At the half-hour mark, Marc Marino restored Campbelltown’s lead, after Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio took advantage of the time and space he had out wide to serve the ball on a silver platter for his striker.

Despite Adelaide City playing parts of the rest of the game with glimmers of its 2022 self, Paul Pezos’ men could not find an equaliser and spend another week outside the coveted top six.

Higgins stunner insufficient

South Adelaide Panthers 1-1 West Adelaide

West Adelaide travelled south having not lost since the first of April, and with signs of growing into the league, Jim Tsekinis’ side knew it could do damage to the inconsistent Panthers. Despite the quality of Jonathon and Alex Rideout, Anthony Rideout’s side has not been able to score as freely in recent weeks, and converting against West Adelaide is a tough task these days.

Despite a strong start, the Panthers could not find a breakthrough until a special effort from Conner Higgins put the home side ahead 10 minutes before halftime, and in all likelihood won him the goal of the round.

West Adelaide has been impossible to shake off in recent weeks, and once again Hellas hit back, this time 10 minutes after the restart, when the ball found Nicholas Stefanopoulos unmarked at the back post for an easy tap-in. Both sides exchanged blows in an entertaining game, but there was no winner when referee Eric Ford Sestili concluded proceedings.

A point was enough for South Adelaide to escape the relegation zone for a week, while West Adelaide is now level on the table with rivals Adelaide City, a side that humbled it by four goals two months ago.

Second half blowout

Sturt Lions 0-5 North Eastern MetroStars

After taking apart Adelaide Olympic in Round Nine, the MetroStars travelled to Karinya Reserve to take on another side low on confidence in the Sturt Lions.

After their own disappointing Round Nine defeat, the hosts were keen to frustrate their high-scoring opponents, and they did so for 29 minutes before James Temelkovski’s incisive pass to Cam Woodfin saw the American open the scoring with his side’s first shot on target.

The Lions entered halftime a goal down, but they had done their job of limiting and frustrating Metro; it all fell apart from there though. Danny Graystone’s side entered the second half looking refreshed, and captain Anthony Sologna doubled his side’s advantage with a rare goal just before the hour mark.

James Temelkovski scored his 12th goal of the season with a bicycle kick in the 72nd minute before Michael Cittadini and Fabian Barbiero hit two minutes apart from each other to turn what looked like a potentially frustrating afternoon into a rout.

This result saw the MetroStars restored at the top of the table, where they remained after the Young Reds dropped points, while the Lions remained bottom of the ladder and desperate for positive results.

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Reds change games

Modbury Jets 2-3 Adelaide Comets

The Adelaide Comets travelled to Modbury desperate to end a run that has seen the club winless in April, and with the Jets in form, it wasn’t going to be easy.

It looked like another disappointing result was on the cards when the visitors got caught out by a quick free kick which saw Joshua Hernandez score, before fullback Filimon Asefa was sent off for making contact with referee Christian Verdicchio when remonstrating about the legality of the move.

Minutes into the second half Hamish McCabe seemingly put the game to bed, powering his side, which was already a man and a goal up, further ahead on the scoreboard but soon after kickoff, Modbury defender Matt Mullen was sent off for a dangerous challenge which sparked hope within the Comets charges. Jaiden Diamantis was brought on for his energy and attacking prowess, and two minutes after his introduction, the forward curled the ball home to bring his side within a goal at the hour mark.

Defender Tom Giannakopoulos brought his side level through a close-range volley in the 66th minute, but by getting themselves level in numbers, and now on the scoreboard, and with momentum on their side, the Comets were going to be a force to be reckoned with. A short two minutes later, Jayden LoBasso’s cross was calmly controlled by Jaiden Diamantis in the box, and after sparking the comeback off the bench, the forward completed it by expertly slotting away the winner to spark wild celebrations in a comeback to remember.

Beograd can’t convert

FK Beograd 0-0 Adelaide Olympic

FK Beograd and Adelaide entered Round 10 on the opposite ends of the momentum scale, with the hosts recording an emotional come-from-behind win against the Champions, while the visitors found themselves dismantled by the MetroStars midweek.

Beograd goalkeeper Jamie Signorello was forced into an early double save, but from that point onwards the home side took the ascendency.

Callum Nissen had a busy first half in the Olympic goals but his net was only breached after one of his saves rebounded off the crossbar and Doni Pollock converted from an offside position which saw his effort ruled out. As the game wore on, so did Beograd’s dominance but Josh Smith’s side could not find a cutting edge.

Olympic did not notably threaten Beograd so incoming coach Jason Trimboli would see this result as a point gained. The home side is clutching onto the last Finals Series spot on the ladder, and even though its performances have improved in recent weeks, it needs to start putting points on the board if it is to rise on the ladder and seal an appearance in the pointy end of the season as expected.

Croydon deserved more

Adelaide United Youth 1-1 Croydon FC

Adelaide United hosted their annual NPL match at Mount Barker, and this year their visitors were Travis Dodd’s Croydon, hot off a home win against South Adelaide.

The Young Reds were keen to continue their impressive form at the top of the table, and it looked that way early after Nathan Amanatidis beat Gianni Tramontin to his near post to open the scoring just before the 20th minute.

The home side settled on its lead, and it allowed Croydon to attack. Taking advantage of the spaces that began appearing, Croydon’s Meiya Hisamoto took the time and space he was afforded near the edge of the box to bring his side level heading into halftime.

Coming into the second half, Croydon could have taken the lead early, but missed some big chances, most notably a close-range opener header from a corner going harmlessly wide. Adelaide United had a chance to retake the lead through Amanatidis, but Croydon’s pressure troubled the Young Reds who at the end of the day were lucky to escape with a point. If Croydon regularly replicates this performance it will once again become a tricky proposition for opponents.

Match to watch in Round 11

As the 2023 NPL SA season reaches its halfway mark the MetroStars host the Modbury Jets. Both Danny Graystone and Maurcie Natale’s sides play entertaining football which has seen their sides locked in the top four, at first and fourth respectively.

Metro has orchestrated two smashing in as many games, and while Modbury is coming off a disappointing loss, it is one of the higher-scoring sides in the competition.

The hosts need to enter this match mentally prepared for a battle, because if the Jets have shown something this season it is that they won’t stop pushing until the referee has blown his whistle for the final time, and with players like Hamish McCabe doing the damage it is no surprise that the results have been coming.

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