Campbelltown City's Alex Mullen celebrating one of his two goals in Round 10 with teammate Yohei Matsumoto (Image: Ken Carter)

After a weekend of Cup action, NPL SA returned with Round 10 packed with twists and turns at both ends of the ladder.

After a weekend of Cup action, NPL SA returned with twists and turns at both ends of the ladder as the halfway point of Season 2022 approaches.

Veitch Does Enough

Adelaide City 1-1 South Adelaide Panthers

Coming into Round 10, City were expected to grab a comfortable victory against the faltering Panthers at Oakden, but that was not the way the game unfolded.

As expected, the hosts started like a house on fire, with South Adelaide’s keeper Ryan Veitch being called on twice in the first two minutes to make goalmouth saves.

The one-man show did not last long, with the brilliant Kur Kur faking a shot and in one swift action slotting a left-footed shot past the outstretched goalkeeper to open the scoring 14 minutes in the encounter.

Paul Pezos’ side kept pushing in hopes of putting the game beyond doubt, but Veitch was determined to keep his side in the encounter and he was rewarded for his efforts when a free-kick found Declan Finney unmarked at the back post who made no mistake, bringing the visitors level.

Despite both sides having spells of control in the second half, neither goal was to be breached again, with Ryan Veitch once again being a huge reason his side collected an important point away at the Champions.

A Class Above

Croydon FC 1-2 Campbelltown FC

The Alex Mullen show continues in NPL SA Season 2022, and in Round 10 it ensured Campbelltown City extended their unbeaten run which is now approaching three months.

Just five minutes into the match, Luigi Ditroia intercepted a Croydon defensive header before being clattered by keeper John Hall for his efforts. Alex Mullen made no mistake from the spot but a short seven minutes later the visitors were exposed on the right side with Seb Goode pulling Croydon level.

15 minutes later, Ditroia and Mullen combined once more, this time from open play, with the former lofting a cross to the latter who placed a header perfectly in the top corner. That was Mullen’s ninth goal in 10 games, an incredible statistic for a midfielder who is reminding the competition of his quality every week.

Despite losing defender Daniel Mullen early, the Red Devils held on to the lead, with Alex Mullen running the show from the midfield along with partner Adam Piscioneri.

Campbelltown’s impressive run of form has resulted in it finding itself second on the table and still in the Cup; once again the goal is silverware at the Steve Woodcock Center.

Olympic In Trouble?

Cumberland United 3-2 Adelaide Olympic

Adelaide Olympic is a capable, high scoring side but it seems to be its own worst enemy at times. That narrative did not change as it visited a resurgent Cumberland United.

The Foxes look like a different side from the first quarter of the season, they kept an early Olympic flurry at bay to go two goals up at halftime, thanks to the clinical finishes of two of their standout players this season, Harry Thannhauser and Sam Carmichael.

In his last game for Olympic, Fausto Erba pulled one back for his side after the break with Cumberland keeping a one-goal lead until late in injury time when chaos reigned supreme. The story should have ended when new Foxes signing Yuya Taguchi intercepted an errant back pass to slot past Lewis Moss, restoring his side’s two-goal advantage. The lead wasn’t safe yet.

Christos Pounendis headed Olympic back into the game but got sent off in his aggressive attempt to retrieve the ball from the back of the net, grounding United’s keeper Luke Schoen. The frustration of the day clearly got to Olympic midfielder Kristin Konstandopoulos, who received his marching orders through two yellow cards within seconds for dissent as Olympic failed to grab an all-important third goal.

Olympic finished Round 10 in 10th position and level on points with Cumberland who seemed done and dusted weeks ago. With FK Beograd and Adelaide United Youth surpassing it, Adelaide Olympic is well and truly entrenched in a fight for top-flight survival.

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Late And Improbable

FK Beograd 3-2 West Torrens Birkalla

They didn’t know it during the game, but West Torrens Birkalla’s visit to Frank Mitchell Park would have a huge effect on the relegation battle at the conclusion of Round 10. Unfortunately for the visitors, they were once again left feeling all the pain.

With both sides desperate to get points on the board, there were no surprises after a cagy, goalless first half, the second half was a different story. The first 15 minutes of the second half saw the sides exchange goals, with Birkalla scoring through Ethan Stevenson. Despite calls for handball, Josh Mori coolly dispatched a penalty given away soon leveling the scores for Beograd.

As the game was approaching its conclusion, the script repeated itself, Calvin Mbarga finishing at an empty net for Birkalla once again soon followed by Josh Mori outpacing the Birks defence, rounding Nick Harpas and bringing his side level for the second time of the day.

Birkalla’s Isaac Mullen was sent off in the dying minutes of the game for breaking up a counterattack and kicking the ball away, but there was one more twist in the tale.

Birkalla made a meal of their free kick, opening the door for a Beograd counter which was converted by Jacob Butler-Bowdon giving his side an unlikly lead not even a minute after being reduced to 10 men.

With Cumberland rising, this late crushing loss leaves Birkalla the lone cellar dwellers as Beograd picked up three important points at home in their own tussle between survival hopes and finals aspirations.

Capable Young Reds

Adelaide United Youth 4-2 Adelaide Comets

With rivals Adelaide City dropping points on Friday night, the Adelaide Comets would have been licking their lips at the prospect of playing Adelaide United Yout, who despite their free scoring nature tend to leak goals.

Despite going down in their last outing, Barney Smith’s Comets entered their Round 10 matchup as the overwhelming favourites.

Alarm bells rang early for the Comets, with holes appearing all over last year’s grand finalist’s midfield. Those were swiftly punished by a great solo effort by Luka Jovanovic and a penalty conceded by Tom Giannakopoulos and scored by Yaya Dukuly.

The half’s scoring was not complete, with Ryan Yates and Asad Kasumovic scoring wonder strikes for their respective sides, a smashing half-volley and a booming free kick respectively. An entertaining first stanza ended with the Young Reds conceding another goal due to a defensive mishap, but still recording a one goal lead in a five goal half.

Both sides had opportunities in the second half, but the Young Reds were able to restore their two goal cushion through a deflected Asad Kasumovic shot. The Comets had an opportunity to make ground on league leaders City, who now views their draw on Friday as one point gained instead of two points dropped, meanwhile the Young Reds have proven they can match it with anyone on their day as they look to beat the drop.

Becoming An Occurrence

North Eastern MetroStars 3-2 Sturt Lions

The North Eastern MetroStars do not do things the easy way up at TK Shutter Reserve and that was once again on display against the Sturt Lions. A replay of last year’s final saw Metro seeking revenge for being prematurely knocked out in 2021, but it was anything but a positive start for the hosts.

Just five minutes into the match, Gonzalo Rodriguez re-adjusted his feet to finish an inviting cross from close range to give the Lions the lead away from home. Lino Fusco’s side played their role perfectly in the first half, frustrating the hosts and taking their lead to the sheds.

If it is one side that a comeback is expected from it is Metro who have made a habit out of digging holes for themselves only to produce a late escape. An hour into this encounter, Hamish Gow’s neat header across goals started another comeback for the team from the North East.

The scores were only level for another 10 minutes, with Ariath Piol continuing his strong record this season and scoring from close range, before Christian Esposito put the exclamation mark on yet another comeback with a booming volley that left Lions’ goalkeeper James Klappers helpless.

Match to Watch in Round 11

In a battle of attrition, arresting the slide is just as important as maintaining a strong patch of form. The Adelaide Comets and Croydon FC will be attempting to do just that in their Round 11 encounter.

Both sides began the seasons in strong form, but have dropped their high standards in the last month, finding themselves both being knocked out of the Cup and suffering defeats in their last two league outings.

The Comets will be attempting to make ground on City as they seek another Premiership, while Croydon fight for a return to finals football.

Both sides will be confident they can capitalise on the opposition’s recent poor form in what should be a telling and even encounter that brings up the halfway point of the season.

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