Round 4 of the 2022 NPL SA Season included a Grand Final rematch, the early pace setters finally stumble and two struggling sides with high expectations finally record their first wins.
The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the week that was with its three word wrap for each match.
Beograd Convert Dominance
Croydon Kings 1-2 FK Beograd
Three rounds into the 2022 season, the Kings were overjoyed with their efforts, picking up seven of the possible nine points.
Despite a much hyped return to the top division of South Australia, Beograd had only been able to pick up a solitary point in the same time period.
Beograd ended its last match with confidence by overcoming a two goal deficit against Campbelltown to salvage a draw. The side picked up were it left off at Jack Smith Park against the Kings, but a dominant first half did no damage to the scoreboard with a scoreless first 45 minutes from both sides.
The scoring was finally opened by Beograd with Jordan Pudler converting a penalty given away in desperation by Kings’ captain Lukasz Klimek.
When it rains, it pours, and a short five minutes later a Ninko Beric shot was parried by last minute inclusion Gianni Tramontin right into the path of Paul Radice, who doubled Beograd’s lead.
A superb solo effort effort by Seb Goode was only a consolation for the Kings as Damian Mori’s Beograd finally grabbed its much anticipated first victory back in the top division.
Marc Marino Masterclass
Campbelltown City 5-2 Adelaide United Youth
Both Campbelltown City and Adelaide United experienced slow starts to the season, but Round 3 saw both sides pick up their first points. The hosts threw away a two goal lead at Beograd, while the Young Reds grabbed their first victory against Adelaide Olympic.
The first half was full of action, which seems to be the norm when these two sides face off. The Young Reds took the lead twice with an Ethan Alagich major and a Luka Jovanovic penalty, only to be cancelled out by two well taken Marc Marion finishes, one late into first half injury time, right after United’s second.
The visitors were deflated and eventually ran out of steam in the second half, with Marino putting on a clinic in finishing to seal the game for Campbelltown.
Alex Mullen opened the scoring in the second half as Marino turned provider with an exquisite cross. Marino remained a thorn in United’s side, scoring another brace with a fortunate finish and a successfully converted one-on-one to take the match ball home and all three points for the hosts.
Panthers Derby Stumble
South Adelaide Panthers 2-3 Sturt Lions
After a strong start to the season, the Lions had struggled to replicate their form coming into Round 4, not earning a point since their opening day victory.
In contrast, coming into the Southern Derby, the Panthers had looked almost untouchable, with three victories, despite a late fadeout against Birkalla in their last outing.
The first half was a tight affair, with the Panthers taking the lead on the cusp of half time with a sleek team move. This concluded with a moment of individual brilliance from Jonathon Rideout, who turned and curled a superb effort past James Klappers. A tight match turned into a shootout in the second half.
Jacob Atkinson brought the Lions level with a tidy free kick around the wall eight minutes into the second interval; parity only lasted two minutes. It was Rideout time again for South, Alex doing the damage this time, outrageously scoring directly from a corner to put his side back ahead.
It looked like the Panthers would stroll to a fourth straight victory but Tyreece Conway and the Lions had other ideas. They equalled the scoring once again, catching the Panthers off by taking a quick free kick which led to a well converted Conway goal.
With 15 minutes to go and the scoring locked up, a blistering Sturt counterattack led to Conway converting once again, this time a one-on-one in a much needed victory for Sturt.
South would be disappointed to lose after being in a winning position twice in the game, but it may be the reality check required to ground Andrew Calderbank’s side if it is to contend for silverware in 2022.
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Jackson Walls Star
Cumberland United 0-2 North Eastern MetroStars
A winless Cumberland United entered Round 4 hoping to improve their fortunes against a Metro side that also stumbled in Round 3 after a promising start to the season.
The scoring was opened by Metro, as expected, with Ren Nagamatsu proving his value by holding up the ball and laying off a rampaging Jackson Walls who netted his third goal of the season, an impressive stat for a defender.
The right back’s move North East has been a success, announcing himself as one of the league’s standout players.
The second half saw the Foxes pull a goal back before it was rubbed off for offside.
Hamish Gow killed off the game at the death, smashing a penalty to the right of the keeper to boost Metro’s goal difference. It’s now three wins in four games for the visitors, with Cumberland suffering three defeats in the same period.
Finalists Share Points
Adelaide City 1-1 Adelaide Comets
The much anticipated Grand Final rematch promised fireworks with both City and Comets entering this encounter equal on points with two wins a draw each.
It was Paul Pezos’ City side that opened the scoring six minutes into the game. Last week’s hat trick hero Kur Kur latched onto a long ball but was forced out wide.
Using his trademark quick feet and extensive trickery, Kur moved the ball to a central area and dispatched a left footed effort past Julian Torresan for the opener.
The Comets hit back on the cusp of half time, with an Ochsenham goal kick being returned with interest via a header by the Comets to put through new signing Augustus Williams. He made no mistake to slide the ball into the back of the net.
Both sides had chances to decide the result in the second half but the game finished a draw. It was a fair reflection of an entertaining encounter between two top sides who will be competing for the right to be Champions in the pointy end of the season.
Olympic Spirit Shines
Adelaide Olympic 2-2 West Torrens Birkalla
Both Olympic and Birkalla have endured frustrating starts to the 2022 season.
Despite both finding their way to the winner’s list in Round 2, Round 3 saw them back in the loser’s column with Olympic giving Adelaide United its first win and Birkalla succumbing to South Adelaide despite a spirited comeback.
Olympic’s fortunes went from bad to worse with Paul Wilson giving away a clumsy penalty, which Yaz Sudic duly converted to put his side ahead at the break.
11 minutes into the second half, Olympic keeper Lewis Moss rushed out to interrupt Stefan Simic’s advances, but an unfortunate stumble led to the Birkalla forward doubling the visitors’ advantage.
It would be easy to lay down and accept fate at two goals down, but Olympic did no such thing.
Kristin Konstandopoulos pulled one back at the 85th minute, slotting a loose ball from a corner in the back of the net. Two minutes later it once again seemed like it was curtains for Olympic, with Paul Wilson given his marching orders for committing a second bookable offence after interrupting a counterattack.
Resolute as ever, Olympic kept pushing for an equaliser and five minutes into injury time they found it in spectacular fashion.
Christon Pounendis, who had pushed up for a set piece, controlled a Panagiotis Manidakis ball into the box with his chest. In a lighting move, he smashed the ball past an unsuspecting Nick Harpas to earn Olympic a late point.
Both sides would be frustrated with aspects of the game, but Olympic can hold their heads up high and enter their next matchup with confidence that they can overturn any deficit.
Match to watch in Round 5
Round 5 is going to have to wait as Cup Week approaches.
When the League restarts, TK Shutter will be hosting what is sure to be one of the early contenders for the match of the season as the MetroStars host the Champions, Adelaide City.
It will be Metro’s opportunity to show they belong in the Premiership conversation early in the season after an impressive start. Adelaide City have continued their Championship winning form and beating Metro at their own turf can ensure a gap starts forming between them and fellow challengers.
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