Aladin Irabona celebrates putting Adelaide City ahead of Campbelltown (Image: Ken Carter)

The Inner Sanctum takes a look at a blistering return of the NPL SA in Round 1 with its three word wrap for each match.

The Inner Sanctum takes a look at a blistering return of the NPL SA in Round 1 with its three word wrap for each match.

Champions Flex Muscle

Adelaide City 3-1 Campbelltown City

Adelaide City began their Championship defence at home against fierce rivals Campbelltown City. It was a tense, goalless first half to open the season with the match being decided in an action-packed second period.

As a result of a Campbelltown handball, Aladin Irabona scored a penalty to put Adelaide City in front, shortly followed by Campbelltown’s Daniel Mullen being dismissed for pulling down a City player as the last man. The rest of the game saw the Champions cruise to two more well taken goals, with Campbelltown’s Lui Di Troia also pulling one back for his side with an exquisite top corner finish.

With marksman Joseph Costa injured and Asad Kasumovic signing for Adelaide United, Adelaide City coach Paul Pezos would be overjoyed to see the scoring load being shared between three players in Irabona, Charlie Devereux and Luke Chikwuba.

Young Reds Burned

Adelaide United Youth 1-3 Sturt Lions

The young Reds began their season against a challenging opposition in Sturt, who played off for a shot of making he Grand Final against the Comets last season. The Reds conceded early off a set piece and it was all downhill from there.

The youthful exuberance expected from United’s NPL SA side was not present, with frustration being evident and the team not clicking when compared to a well oiled Sturt outfit. United looked improved in the second half, as a result Jonny Yull dropping deeper to pickup and distribute the ball, with the Reds even grabbing a goal.

Sturt ended up running out comfortable winners on the day with two goals from Tyreece Conway and one from Gonzalo Rodriguez overpowering Luka Jovanovic’s consolation goal for the Reds.

Kings Resume Form

Cumberland United 1-2 Croydon Kings

With a month to go in the 2021 NPL SA Season, these two sides found themselves in similar spots, stuck in the bottom part of the ladder and fighting against the threat of relegation. Both Clubs survived but the Kings well and truly flourished.

In the last month of the 2021 Season, Travis Dodd’s Kings picked up nine of a possible 12 points to go from relegation candidates to finishing three points out of a finals spot. In the meantime, Cumberland managed to survive relegation on the closing day of the season with an emphatic win against Adelaide United Youth.

The Kings began Season 2022 like they ended 2021 and got the job done in Cumberland’s backyard, courtesy of goals by Antoni Trimboli and Adam Martinello.

South Spoil Party

FK Beograd 0-3 South Adelaide Panthers

It was the return to the premier state competition which FK Beograd fans have been waiting for for 7 years since getting relegated to State League One at the end of the 2015 NPL SA Season. The crowd packed in at Frank Mitchell Park expecting fireworks from Damian Mori’s side but it was not to be on the day.

South Adelaide put in an assured performance to remind fans that they are a well drilled side with high aspirations for Season 2022. The new look Beograd forward line of Josh Mori and Ninko Beric was not given an inch with the Panthers shutting out any potential danger to keep a clean sheet in their first match of the season.

South themselves found joy going forward with Donnie Pollock and Jackson Stephens scoring in the first half before star Jonathon Rideout opened his season account to put the exclamation mark on a statement victory.

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Walls Towers Late

Adelaide Olympic 2-3 North Eastern MetroStars

Olympic taking on the MetroStars was the match that produced NPL SA’s first case of late drama with the winner begin scored in injury time by none else but a right back!

Metro started the game off slowly, finally conceding to a magnificent Christos Pounendis strike at the half hour mark. The side from the North East went in at half time fortunate to only be one goal down.

It was a different story in the second half with the MetroStars coming out of the sheds firing twice within three minutes early in the period through Alessio Melisi and Francesco Schimizzi to get the lead. With the 90 minutes about to be wrapped up, Olympic’s Dylan D’Agostino finished nicely past Isaac Carmody to bring the home side level.

A draw seemed the fair result but the MetroStars had not had their final say in this encounter. 92 minutes into the match, Hamish Gow got the ball in the mixer one final time and former Adelaide United and Adelaide Croatia Raiders right back Jackson Walls towered over his marker to earn his side the three points with an emphatic header past Olympic goalkeeper Lewis Moss.

Ikon Welcomes Birks

West Torrens Birkalla 0-5 Adelaide Comets

Round One of the NPL SA 2022 Season was concluded with Premiers and losing Grand Finalists from State League One and NPL SA facing each other as West Torrens Birkalla made their return to the top flight of South Australian football. The Comets did not waste any time to make their presence felt.

The star of the match was Nikolas Ikonomopoulos who scored twice against the competitions new boys on his starting debut for the Comets. Ikonomopoulos scored a scrappy goal off a corner seven minutes into the match and doubled his tally with a composed finish in the second period.

The Comets showed their class on opening night with captain Alan Welsh scoring a simple goal and new signing Augustus William finishing off a sublime piece of individual brilliance, before a Birkalla own goal sealed the score line at 5-0 to the visitors.

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