29/05/2024

Adelaide City's Jason Konstandopoulos was able to get the better of his former side Adelaide Olympic and brother Kristin (Image: Brenton Bessell-Adelaide City)

Hat-trick heroes, smashing victories, and comebacks all had a massive part to play in Round 16 of NPL SA Season 2023.

Another four goals

South Adelaide Panthers 2-4 Modbury Jets

Coming off a 4-1 win against West Adelaide, the Modbury Jets faced multiple struggles in the opening half of their clash against South Adelaide. Just three minutes after Tim Henderson was substituted as a result of a head knock, Panthers forward Alex Rideout scored directly off a corner to give the home side the lead.

As the rain dropped and the game became scrappy, Anthony Rideout would have hoped his team would have made the break with its lead intact, but his halftime team talk was scrapped when Liam McCabe took advantage of the chaotic state of play to sneak away from his markers and draw his side level in injury time. The Jets began the second half like they ended the first, and within a minute of the restart, Joshua Hernandez had beaten Lewis Moss to earn his side the lead for the first time.

After a destructive beginning to the half, the game got away from the Panthers which allowed Matt Mullen to make it three, before Hamish McCabe joined his brother on the scoresheet to kill off the game. Charles Orji recorded a consolation goal for the hosts at the death, but it was Maurice Natale’s side that celebrated the second win in a row where it has scored four goals.

Carle lifts Croydon

Croydon FC 3-1 FK Beograd

After four consecutive home losses, FK Beograd hit the road to Regency to take on Croydon FC hoping that for the first time since early May, a result would fall its way. Only 10 minutes into the game, Josh Smith’s side took the lead for the first time in weeks when Micah Le’alafa acrobatically finished past Matthew Woithe after the goalkeeper parried a Ninko Beric shot his way.

The visitors were disappointed to be only a single goal up at halftime after Ninko Beric failed to score an open goal and a shot cannoned off the crossbar and out for a goal kick later in the half. Despite a slow start to the second half, Croydon worked itself back in the game when Andre Carle latched onto a long ball by Kristos Stefanopoulos and calmly slotted past Jamie Signorello in the 70th minute.

Twelves minutes later, the same two players combined, and after Carle wrong-footed Brodi Barrow he placed the ball into the top corner to give his side the lead. The striker rounded off an impressive day out when he received a Patrick Caraccia ball and beat ex-Croydon defender Jared Clark before chipping Jamie Signorello to seal three crucial points for his side and the match ball for himself.

Mullens power Campbelltown

Campbelltown City 5-1 Adelaide Comets

The Adelaide Comets returned to the scene of their 2022 Semi-Final victory and started off on the front foot against Campbelltown City when Tom Giannakopoulos tapped in an Allan Welsh cross to open the scoring 17 minutes into the match.

When Campbelltown is in trouble it is Alex Mullen that so often bails his side out, and in Round 16 it was the Sergio Melta medalist that sparked the comeback once again, this time heading home a Shogo Yoshikawa cross 12 minutes after his side went behind. With four minutes to go in the half, it was Daniel Mullen that smashed in a volley, after the ball fell in his path during a corner, to earn his side the lead heading into the break.

Five minutes after the restart, Alex Mullen once again joined his cousin on the scoring sheet with another perfect header that Ashton Rinaldo could do nothing to keep out of his goal. The Comets became their own worst enemies, with a glaring defensive error allowing Luis-Lawrie Lattanzio to make it four before Marc Marino scored the Red Devils’ fifth goal deep into injury time to add insult to injury in an impressive victory.

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Bressan batters Olympic

Adelaide City 5-1 Adelaide Olympic

With Jason Konstandopoulos defecting from Adelaide Olympic to Adelaide City, this encounter was built around himself and his brother, Kristin, who remained at the club. Despite the attention not being on him, Adelaide City midfielder Daniel Bressan wrote the headlines, opening the scoring when he intercepted a Callum Nissen clearance before exchanging the ball with Katsuyoshi Kimishima and finally passing the ball past the goalkeeper.

Jason Konstandopoulos joined the party minutes later, the winger putting the ball on a silver platter for Bressan who made no mistake to record his brace and send his side to the break two goals ahead. The duo once again combined on the edge of Olympic’s box in the 54th minute with Bressan placing the ball in the top corner to record his hat-trick.

At the hour mark, Nicholas Bucco came off the bench, and with his first touch of the game smashed in a free kick to make it four before an equally impressive Liam Wooding effort saw Adelaide Olympic grab a consolation goal on a disappointing day. The Black and White had the last say of the day when Jason Konstandopoulos laid off his third assist which saw Kimishima tap City’s fifth goal home to claim a well-deserved three points.

The match was concluded five minutes early because of an unfortunate injury to Adelaide Olympic’s Abu Hussein.

Made to work

West Adelaide 2-3 North Eastern MetroStars

The league-leading MetroStars traveled to West Beach to take on West Adelaide, and despite player availability meaning Hellas has been low on depth and quality in recent weeks, Jim Tsekinis’ side tends to give most opponents a tough game. The high pressing of Hellas resulted in an uncharacteristic error by Metro captain Anthony Solagna which allowed Amir Ibrahim to give his side a shock lead.

Fabian Barbiero restored parity minutes later after West Adelaide’s defence could not keep his close-range effort from a corner out, but Hellas soon restored its unlikely lead with Chris Christofilos from the penalty spot after Jackson Walls fouled Minsung Park in the box. Seven minutes after the restart, Michael Gomes fouled James Temelkovski in the box which allowed Hamish Gow to once again level the scoring for the MetroStars.

The high rate of scoring slowed down, with both sides unable to break the deadlock and the MetroStars wasting multiple chances. Michael Cittadini’s pinpoint 85th-minute cross made it impossible for Austin Ayoubi to miss, with the midfielder earning his side three points despite it being far from its convincing self.

Lions roar again

Adelaide United Youth 1-4 Sturt Lions

It’s been a grueling season for the Sturt Lions, with their only victory coming in early March, but Lino Fusco’s side seemed to finally have some luck go its way when it opened the scoring in the second minute of its Round 16 match, through Gonzalo Rodriguez, against a depleted Adelaide United side. Despite many of its first-team players missing, the Young Reds managed to equalise from the penalty spot, through Ryan White, shortly after falling behind to set the stage for another entertaining game.

Just 10 minutes later, the Lions hit the front once again when goalkeeper Oscar Page was unable to control a rough backpass which gave the opportunity to Tyreece Conway to restore the lead for his side. The Young Reds did not trouble Sturt any further in the first half, but the away side’s goalkeeper Michael Giorgines had to be substituted because of an injury; experienced goalkeeper James Klappers was summoned off the bench as a result.

Alex Sortini and Gonzalo Rodriguez combined for the second consecutive week, with the latter once again converting from close range, this week to record his brace. As the game was wrapping up, Akira Kobaishi popped up in the box to score a well-deserved goal to emphasise that his side will not be dropping to the State Leagues without a fight; if Lino Fusco’s side continues in this form, it is hard to see it being relegated, despite a torrid start to the season.

Match to watch in Round 17

Round 17 kicks off on Friday night at Frank Mitchell Park where FK Beograd returns to its home desperate for an upturn in form when it takes on West Adelaide, which has also found it hard to earn victories as of late. Despite its disappointing form, Hellas refuses to be a side that is comfortably beaten.

Meanwhile, FK Beograd, after finding itself as high as fourth in NPL SA Season 2023, currently finds itself sitting outside the top six and in the midst of a five-game losing streak. Both sides will be aiming for three points for their Finals Series and survival hopes, and with the stakes ever-growing as the weeks count down these two desperate teams should put on a show for fans that will go a long way to deciding their fates for the rest of their respective campaigns.

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