Adelaide Comets left-back Filimon Asefa takes a throw in during his side's Round Five loss to Campbelltown City (Image: Adam Butler/@8zerokms.)

The league’s hottest striker won’t stop scoring, the top two sides kept winning, and the comeback boys claimed another victim. All that and more in Round 5 of NPL SA Season 2023.

Croydon’s late revival

FK Beograd 2-2 Croydon FC

Both Beograd and Croydon entered Round Five needing to steady their respective ships, with both sides enduring a disappointing opening month of the seasons seeing them each win once, while also respectively conceding nine and 13 goals, in the opening four games. Both teams obviously lacked confidence and had a strong defensive focus which led to a largely uneventful first half.

Beograd threw a spanner in the works only two minutes after the restart, with former Croydon midfielder Paul Radice dispossessing Jarrod Brazzale and slotting home to open the scoring for the home side.

Solomon Islands captain Micah Lea’alafa was brought on for Beograd at the hour mark and was rewarded for a lively performance when he tapped in his side’s second with 15 minutes to go.

As the match headed towards its conclusion, Beograd goalkeeper Nikola Jokic was sent off for bringing down the last man, reducing Josh Smith’s side to 10 men. Beograd held strong, but Croydon was given belief with an 88th-minute penalty, converted by Andre Carle, before going on to inexplicably equalise in the 92nd minute with Vianne Kurikwimana punishing the home side’s ill discipline while also rescuing a late point for his side.

Olympic contains Champions

Adelaide Olympic 1-1 Adelaide City

The last time Adelaide Olympic took on Adelaide City, Paul Pezos’ side confirmed their Premiership triumph with a resounding six-goal victory.

With a new-look team and a new coach, Olympic was always going to be a more challenging proposition in 2023, and it was a player signed to keep the goals out that opened the home side’s account in Round Five.

With the first set piece of the day, Alessio Benvenuto’s corner found former Adelaide United captain Michael Jakobsen who opened his account for Olympic by giving his side a shock lead only three minutes into the match against the Champions. City responded with their own header 15 minutes later, Nicholas Bucco’s freekick being finished by Jai King on the goalline to level proceedings.

Penalty specialist Aladin Irabona had a chance to put City ahead from the spot before halftime, but the ball shockingly rebounded off the post and the unsuspecting goalkeeper’s legs before Irabona put it wide with the rapid deflection being too hot to handle.

City lived to rue that chance, as both sides pushed for a winner in the second half but fell short and shared the points.

Spoiled for choice

Sturt Lions 1-4 Adelaide United Youth

With the A-League Men competition pausing for the international break, the Adelaide United Youth team was stacked with talent, with only Nestor Irankunda unavailable due to being called up as a Socceroos train-on. The Young Reds visited Karinya Reserve with players such as Asad Kasumovic, Ethan Alagich, Bernardo, Jonny Yull, Panashe Madanha, and Luke Duzel in their starting lineup.

The damage was done early by Airton Andrioli’s side, right-back Giuseppe Bovalina adding to his goal tally 10 minutes into the encounter, while Jonny Yull scored a goal-of-the-year contender on his weak foot to double his sides lead in the 16th minute. Sturt forward Samed Altundag took advantage of a defensive miscommunication to pull a goal back for his side before halftime.

The Young Reds showed their ruthless edge early in the second half with Bernardo restoring the visitors’ two-goal advantage within the opening 12 minutes.

Nathan Amanatidis has been a spectacular signing for Adelaide United but because of the influx of talent in the side, he found himself coming off the bench which did not stop him from putting the cherry on top, with a well-placed finish confirming an imposing away victory.

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Another Modbury comeback

Modbury Jets 4-3 South Adelaide Panthers

Fortune seemed to be on South Adelaide’s side early in its match against Modbury when Alex Rideout’s shot rebounded off a defender and fell to Jai Conroy who opened the scoring. When Jets’ goalkeeper Ryan Nield gave away a penalty, which Jonathon Rideout duly converted, 10 minutes later most would have pencilled down the three points to the visitors.

The game was far from over though as Modbury has made coming back from behind a habit in 2023 and that began minutes from halftime when Joshua Hernandez snatched a goal back for the Jets.

It only took five minutes after the restart for Hamish McCabe to set up Stefan Matteo who beat the goalkeeper at the near post to level the match.

The Panthers equalised against the run of play with Abdullah Yousef, but the Jets hit back minutes later as Hamish McCabe transitioned from provider to scorer to set up a grandstand finish.

Despite fortune being on South’s side early, it dealt the visitors a cruel blow when captain Rob Parker turned the ball into his own net while trying to deal with a cross to hand Modbury all three points in yet another thrilling comeback.

Semi Final avenged

Adelaide Comets 0-1 Campbelltown City

Despite a promising 2022 seeing Campbelltown City return to the top two, the Red Devils’ season ended one week before the Grand Final at the hands of the Adelaide Comets. Michael Matricciani’s side was keen to make amends, but despite nearly opening the scoring in the first ten minutes and looking the like the better side, keeping the Comets without a shot on target in the process, it could not find the back of the net in the first half.

Campbelltown entered the second half with the same intensity and was once again denied on the goal line by the Comets’ defence. When it looked like it was going to be too hard for the Red Devils to score without talisman Marc Marino, their opponents provided a helping hand.

A quick Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio thrown-in found Shogo Yoshikawa, who flicked a pass to Antoni Trimboli in the box. Before the forward could complete his shot, Comets’ midfielder Ryan Yates had forced the ball into the back of his own net in an attempted clearance.

The visitors closed out the game still looking by far the strongest side, claiming the three points and a small dose of retribution for how their previous campaign ended.

Temelkovski doesn’t stop

North Eastern MetroStars 2-0 West Adelaide

Round Five concluded on Saturday night at T.K. Shutter Reserve, where the high-flying MetroStars welcomed West Adelaide, a side competing considerably lower on the table.

Despite being outmatched on paper, Hellas entered the match happy to surrender the ball while hitting their highly-favoured opponents on the counter.

West Adelaide competed hard but James Temelkovski unsurprisingly was a nuisance for Jim Tsekinis’ backline. Metro’s star striker put a shot wide, before forcing a strong save which resulted in a corner that he eventually got his head on to put his side ahead.

Temelkovski is playing with the confidence of a striker that has found the net in each of his league appearances, and it showed when he took a free kick away from Hamish Gow, a midfielder who excels with a dead ball. The striker placed the ball into the bottom corner with minimal fuss to record his seventh goal of the season and to confirm another three points for his side in a hard-fought encounter.

Match to watch in Round 6

Adelaide United hosts the Modbury Jets in Round Six in a match that guarantees exciting football and a plethora of goals. Both sides enter this encounter having lost one match each, and while Adelaide United often dominates in its victories, Modbury has troubled its opposition with its attacking talent never giving up on the cause, no matter the scoreline.

After five rounds, the Young Reds are the league’s top scorers with 15 goals while only conceding five. Meanwhile, the Jets aren’t lagging far behind in the scoring charts with 12 goals, but Maurice Natale’s side has conceded a whopping 11 goals in five matches which has them positioned, fourth on the ladder, even more impressive.

While the Young Reds will be kept on their toes by the tricky Jets while they test how their game stacks up against this early-season surprise packet. Modbury will be pushing its limits against talented opposition and it will be backing itself to get the better of what is expected to be a shootout,

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