In Round 15, Campbelltown City condemned FK Beograd to a fourth consecutive home loss (Image: Ken Carter)

Round 15 of the NPL SA season saw four of the six games end as high-scoring draws, while Campbelltown and Modbury recorded important wins.

Another home loss

FK Beograd 1-2 Campbelltown City

Frank Mitchell Park is traditionally a tough place for away teams to try and claim points from, but after losing three home games in a row and dropping out of the top six, FK Beograd needed a win at home against Campbelltown City to spark its ailing season. Despite looking menacing on the counter early in the game, the hosts once again ended up conceding first at home when Adam Piscioneri took advantage of the space he was afforded in the box to curl past Jamie Signorello in goals.

The Red Devils began stamping their authority after taking the lead and Alex Mullen, as he does so often, popped up late in the half to head in a Shogo Yoshikawa cross to double his side’s advantage heading into the break. Staring at the face of four consecutive home defeats in as many weeks, the hosts came out firing, but Campbelltown seemed comfortable repelling their advances and playing on the counter.

Beorgrad center back Jared Clark finished a half-volley superbly in the 83rd after he was found by Peter Akot’s cross to set up a grandstand finish. Despite clawing a goal back, Beograd could not avoid yet another home loss and will head away to Croydon in Round 16 desperate for its first win since early May.

Clearance gone wrong

Modbury Jets 4-1 West Adelaide

Modbury and West Adelaide entered their Round 15 clash both desperate for three points after facing a string of disappointing results, but the tense nature of the match was changed only 10 minutes in when Hellas defender Martins Abesida was sent off for clearing a ball off the goalline using his arm. The infringement allowed Modbury marksman Hamish McCabe to open the scoring from the penalty spot shortly after.

The Jets may have been a goal and a man up, but the West Adelaide players, fueled by what they sensed was injustice, responded by giving the hosts a run for their money in the first half. Modbury regained the upper hand after the break, and defender Tim Henderson managed to turn the ball in from a corner to double his side’s lead.

Jim Tsekinis’ side continued its fight to stay alive in the match and clawed a goal back after a Harry Thomas shot rocketed off the post and onto the feet of Joe Gatting who made no mistake, tapping into an empty net. The undermanned visitors eventually ran out of legs and were undone by a quickfire double from the McCabe brothers, Hamish recording his brace before Liam popped up to round off the scoring just two minutes later.

Point helps neither

Sturt Lions 2-2 South Adelaide

Sturt and South Adelaide entered their second encounter of the season both placed in the relegation zone and with the weeks slowly counting down this six-pointer shaped up as crucial for the survival chances of both sides. Just 12 minutes into the match, a Phil Cash inswinging corner caused havoc in the Sturt box which allowed Chol Wel to take advantage by tapping home the opening goal for the visitors.

Michael Giorgines stepped up in the Sturt goals to ensure his side went to halftime only a goal down, but he could do nothing five minutes after the restart when Alex Rideout’s inidivdual brilliance saw him dribble out wide from the halfway line and dance past multiple defenders to make it two for the Panthers. Sturt looked down and out, but Alex Sortini matched Alex Rideout’s individual brilliance minutes later, his inventive dink allowing Gonzalo Rodriguez to volley Sturt within a goal.

Mason Cahill’s innocuous handball in the box was picked up by referee Regis Queffelec and when Tyreece Conway brought Sturt level from the spot, it ensured a nailbiting finish at Karinya Reserve. Despite both sides having the chance to win this crucial match, the points were shared and the desperation was clear when David Guastella elected to take out Jonathon Rideout and receive a red card at the death, rather than allow him an opportunity to win the match for the Panthers.

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Defensive errors punished

Adelaide Comets 2-2 Adelaide City

The first Grand Final rematch of the year saw Champions Adelaide City prevail in a seven-goal thriller over the Adelaide Comets, and with both sides still having to fight for their Finals Series positions, the Round 15 rematch was always going to be one to watch. City was unlucky not to open the scoring through Aladin Irabona early, but a defence-splitting pass to the forward by Daniel Bressan saw him collected by goalkeeper Ashton Rinaldo which gave the opportunity to Nicholas Bucco to open the scoring from the spot just after the half-hour mark.

Despite taking the lead, City’s issues popped up again minutes later when Charlie Devereux and Matthew Halliday failed to effectively communicate when attempting to clear a loose ball that resulted in Comets midfielder Arbi Mollas pouncing and leveling proceedings. Early in the second half, Jayden LoBasso continued making the most of life higher up the pitch, scoring his third goal in two weeks to give his side the lead.

Just like City earlier in the half, the Comets showed that they are mortal in Season 2023 and that was evident when Adam Le Cornu accidentally took out teammate Stelios Zacharakis in the box which allowed Katsuyoshi Kimishima to pick out a free Daniel Bressan who headed his side level. The points were shared, with both sides leaving disappointed knowing the results could have been different if it wasn’t for their respective moments of self-destruction.

Croydon almost collapses

North Eastern MetroStars 2-2 Croydon FC

Most NPL SA fans would be backing the MetroStars to win any game in Season 2023 that sees Jame Temelkovski get the opportunity to open the scoring fro the penalty spot, but Round 15 strayed from the script. Temelkovski’s early penalty, given away by Tomas Greco, was saved by Gianni Tramontin and just three minutes later Patrick Caraccia shocked the crowd at T.K. Shutter Reserve by opening the scoring for Croydon FC.

The MetroStars applied pressure before and after the halftime break in search of an equaliser, but astoundingly it was Croydon’s Tom Visser that curled home his side’s second goal to put the league leaders well and truly on the ropes. Travis Dodd’s men absorbed the home side’s forthcoming advances but were unable to clear a Christian D’Angelo’s header from the goalline in the 78th minute which allowed the MetroStars back in the game.

Two minutes later, Christian Esposito’s cross was turned in by a Croydon defender for an own goal and suddenly the MetroStars were level. Cam Woodfin thought he was the night’s hero after a Tramontin save fell his way and he tapped into an open net, but the goal was ruled out for offside, sparing Croydon’s blushes heading into its Federation Cup Semi-Final and ensuring the MetroStars dropped points on home soil for the first time since April.

Overall, this was an exciting gane which was made even better by the two clubs coming together to celebrate their annual Indigenous Round matchup, with specially made shirts for the occasion and a smoking ceremony.

Nightmare start salvaged

Adelaide Olympic 2-2 Adelaide United Youth

With many of its more experienced players still absent due to international duty, one thing that Adelaide United’s young charges could not afford to do in Round 15 was let Adelaide Olympic enjoy a fast start at home. Those plans were quickly extinguished when Cooper Mullins scored his fifth goal in four weeks to open the scoring after one minute of game time.

Many would have excused the Young Reds for putting the cue in the rack when Joe Wright’s long-range volley beat Steven Hall in the 10th minute to make it two, but that was not the case. Seven minutes after conceding for a second time, Ryan White laid off fellow Young Red Jake Porter who cooly slotted a bouncing ball into Callum Nissen’s top corner to give his side hope.

From that point on it was game on and despite both sides creating chances, it was Adelaide United that drew level in the second half when Giuseppe Bovalina took advantage of a loose ball in the box to force home an equaliser. A draw is not the end of the world for either side, but Olympic would be disappointed to falter after leading by two goals, while Airton Andrioli would be proud of the response of his young charges, despite a midfielder Patrick McGregor receiving a late red card for a second bookable offence.

Match to watch in Round 16

South Adelaide and Modbury Jets have been two of the most cavalier sides when it comes to their attitude towards defending in NPL SA Season 2023. Between them, the Panthers and the Jets have conceded 70 goals in 30 games leaving them fighting for survival and on the fringes of a Finals Series appearance respectively.

It is easy to see why the two sides would rely on their offence with players such as the Rideout and McCabe brothers as part of their arsenals, but with the weeks ticking down, both teams need to pick up enough points to achieve their goals. When the two meet on Friday night, expect a fun, high-scoring encounter that will go a long way to shaping the seasons of both sides.

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