28/02/2024

Campbelltown City striker Marc Marino celebrating a goal with coach Michael Matricciani (Image: Ken Carter)

Round 11 saw the top three sides separate themselves from the pack while a cellar dweller showed signs of life.

With Season 2022 ticking over the halfway mark, Round 11 saw the top three sides separate themselves from the pack, while a cellar dweller showed signs of life.

Birkalla Keep Touch

West Torrens Birkalla 2-1 Adelaide United Youth

After finding themselves four points adrift from safety, West Torrens Birkalla entered their Round 11 crunch matchup needing nothing less than a victory, taking on fellow survival hopefuls, Adelaide United Youth.

Things did not start well for the hosts, with the Young Reds having the best of the first half of the encounter and deservedly took a one-goal lead to the sheds at half time through a tidy, close-range Asad Kasumovic finish.

Birkalla responded in the second half and kept pursuing an equaliser, one that they got through a bizarrely awarded penalty which was duly converted by Yasmin Sudic in the 72nd minute. Soon after, the hosts caught the Young Reds napping, with Sudic once again playing a central role, being gifted all the time in the world to deliver a ball from a short corn which after a scrap, Nick Munro turned in to give Birkalla the much needed three points.

Outside The Box

Campbelltown City 4-2 Cumberland United

The Campbelltown machine keeps on getting the job done, and it was no different in Round 11, albeit in a spectacular fashion. Despite a positive start against the revitalised Foxes, the Red Devils could not find the back of the net early, but when it rains it pours.

Just over half an hour into the match, Marc Marino scored one of the goals of the season from outside the box to open the scoring. The golden boot fancy continued his handy work in the second half, somehow managing to beat his earlier effort when it comes to range.

The match was wrapped up by two more superb strikes from outside of the box by the inform Luigi Ditroia and Joel Allwright who opened his account for the season. Cumberland goalkeeper Luke Schoen was merely a spectator of all four strikes, with the home crowd getting its money’s worth on the day.

With the game beyond doubt and feeling left out of the impressive goals conversation, new Cumberland singing Yuya Taguchi and the ever-reliable Sam Carmichael recorded their own strikes from range which were impressive, but merely consolation.

The NPL SA competition is accustomed to high scoring games, but seeing six long-range goals in 90 minutes is quite an anomaly!

Comets Rediscover Form

Adelaide Comets 2-0 Croydon FC

Both the Comets and Croydon entered Round 11 following a similar trajectory. After strong starts to season 2022, both sides found themselves on two-game losing runs.

A cagy start to the game did not do much to improve either side’s fortune and despite being level at the break, it seemed like the Comets were the side that was growing into the encounter.

It was the youth that inspired last year’s Premier’s to victory, with Nikolas Ikonomopoulos grabbing his fifth goal of the campaign an hour into the match, converting from close range after Croydon failed to deal with a corner. In the dying moments of the game, Anthony Mavrolambados wrongfooted John Hall with a well-hit free-kick to double his side’s lead.

After a couple of disappointing weeks, the Comets returned to the winner’s list, but despite that, still find themselves four points off the summit of the League which they are accustomed to possessing. Croydon will return in Round 12 searching for answers against a much-improved Cumberland outfit that are capable of causing problems.

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Doesn’t Help Anyone

FK Beograd 1-1 Sturt Lions

Beograd welcomed the Lions to Frank Mitchell Park in Round 11 with both sides finding themselves in similarly awkward positions. Both the hosts and visitors have been unable to string a consistent run of form together in season 2022, and despite their evident talent, both clubs are positioned outside the top six.

Beograd did not waste any time, with Josh Mori clinically converting from close range after a lightning-quick counterattack. Sturt hit back to bring the scores level in an entertaining first half, Alex Sortini bringing down a high ball and volleying truly, the match finished with the scores level at 1-1.

Despite both sides earning a point, the result does not improve either side’s finals aspirations. Winning these types of games can be the difference-maker at the pointy end of the season.

Toothless Metro Crumble

South Adelaide Panthers 1-0 North Eastern MetroStars

South Adelaide is not an easy place to get a result in, but the MetroStars would have fancied themselves as favourites in their visit to O’Sullivan Beach. Despite having the majority of the chances, the visitors could not hit the back of the net.

Interestingly, it was the Panthers that looked the most likely in the first half. An Alex Rideout freekick was positioned so well that it left fans believing they had found the back of the net. Soon later, Alex turned provider, again from a free-kick, with brother Jonathon giving South Adelaide the lead.

The visitors came hard in the second half but could not break down a resolute Panthers side who found the back of the net again, albeit from an offside position. As the game drew to a close and frustration set in, Paul Blefari was given his marching orders for a scuffle while retrieving the ball and Tim Henderson received a second yellow to leave Metro one goal down, two players light, and with a lot of questions to answer at the final whistle.

Half Way There

Adelaide Olympic 0-2 Adelaide City

When Paul Pezos is your coach, excellence is not just a request, but an expectation. A win away to Adelaide Olympic extended Adelaide City’s undefeated streak past the halfway point mark in what has been an imposing campaign for the reigning champions.

Conceding an early goal against the City juggernaut is a problem that Olympic got all too familiar with after a superb Daniel Bressan corner was converted by a thumping Tom Brown header. City does not just suffocate sides when it is in game-management mode, it actively hunts them down and that was once again clear on Saturday.

Despite possessing an array of attacking talent, Olympic could not find the back of the net, a fact that was punished by Aladin Irabona who converted an injury-time penalty won by substitute Vianne Kurikwimana. This result meant that City find themselves two points ahead of Campbelltown on the summit of the league at the halfway mark of the season, but with a big test approaching.

Match to Watch in Round 12

Three months is a long time in football, and Campbelltown is primed to prove that to the champions, Adelaide City, when it visits the Red Devils in Newton on Friday night. Round 12 kicks off with a blockbuster replay of Round 1 of season 2022.

Paul Pezos’ Adelaide City got the job done comfortably on the dawn of the season and remain undefeated in the competition, still occupying top spot. The Red Devils went on to lose the week after in a disappointing start to their year, but have not lost since.

A matchup that sees two confident, well-coached sides with a point to prove has the makings to be the match of the season, if not an extremely early grand final rehearsal.

With stars all over the field and plenty of firepower going forward, both sides are well-positioned to make a statement; expect fireworks on Friday night.

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