Adelaide City celebrating putting Adelazide United Youth to the sword in Mount Barker (Image: Adam Butler/80kms)

NPL SA Round 7 saw the relegation battle tighten, with the race to the top continuing for some sides, while others faltered as we enter another round of the Federation Cup.

NPL SA Round 7 saw the relegation battle tighten, with the race to the top continuing for some sides, while others faltered as we enter another round of the Federation Cup.

Foxes Are Alive

West Torrens Birkalla 0-1 Cumberland United

The Foxes came into this round ready for their biggest game of their season so far, coming in winless after being flattened by a COVID-19-ravaged Adelaide United Youth outfit in Round 6. Coming up against fellow cellar-dwellers Birkalla meant that the Foxes had to take advantage of the occasion to take a much-needed step towards safety.

The Foxes’ most consistent player this season, Sam Carmichael, got himself on the scoresheet half an hour in the encounter, putting Cumberland in a position to defend a lead, something it has not experienced regularly in 2022.

Cumberland’s task became easier in the 56th minute as George Mannion was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence while breaking down a counter. Despite a late Birks flurry, a resolute Cumberland side managed to hold on to its one-goal lead to finally get in the winner’s column, while Jason Trimboli will be troubled with his side deeply entrenched in a relegation struggle after a disappointing loss at home.

Toothless Panthers Falter

South Adelaide Panthers 0-1 Campbelltown City

The Panthers hosted Campbelltown City, their victims from last year’s first final, hoping to break their two-game losing run, while the visitors did not come into the matchup in spectacular form themselves. Despite not being able to win consistently, Campbelltown’s last loss came in the month of February.

Alarm bells sounded early for the Red Devils, with the defence giving up the ball easily and Jonathon Rideout having a one-on-one opportunity he would expect to convert saved by the slightest touch of ‘keeper Alex Woodlands.

The match’s decisive moment came in the 62nd minute, with Marc Marino being clipped in the box while chasing a deflected Yohei Matsumoto cross. Despite Ryan Veitch guessing the right way, Alex Mullen converted the resulting penalty to score his second goal in as many weeks.

The Panthers pushed for an equaliser but Alex Woodlands had all the answers to all the questions posed by Jonathon Rideout. The visitors left South Adelaide with all three points, while the hosts, who were scoring for fun in the first rounds of the season, have now gone three full matches goalless.

Mori Haunts Metro

FK Beograd 3-2 North Eastern MetroStars

After being dismantled by the Champions in their COVID-19 catchup game on Tuesday, the MetroStars were keen to make amends at Frank Mitchell Park against an ascending FK Beograd.

Squad rotation meant a start for the rising star of the competition Ariath Piol who repaid Rob Saraceno’s trust by scoring in the 25th and 40th minute, an emphatic, close-range finish from a corner and tidy, near-post finish from the edge of the box respectively to give Metro a comfortable half time lead.

A factor that has contributed to Piol’s increase in playing time has been Josh Mori exiting the North East and joining his father, coach Damian Mori, at FK Beograd; he wasted no time reminding the MetroStars what they are missing out on by flipping the game on its head in the second half.

Four minutes into the second half, Mori headed a Paul Radice cross to pull a goal back for his side; however, the scoring was not done, a Metro defensive mix-up invited Ninko Beric into the area, with the forward squaring the ball for Mori who once again scored to bring the two sides level 72 minutes into the matchup.

The Mori show was not over, five minutes before full time, a fantastic linkup play between Massimo Falco and Evan Kounavelis found the forward free on the left side of the box, his emphatic finish earned him his hat trick, a goal of the week nomination and Beograd the points while father and coach Damian Mori reflected the crowd’s elation in his celebration.

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Kings Tame Lions

Sturt Lions 0-4 Croydon Kings

Both the Lions and the Kings entered Round 7 trying to make amends for disappointing draws recorded in the previous round.

The Kings were frustrated, being held scoreless to lowly Birkalla, they made sure that the story did not repeat itself early. Sturt ‘keeper James Klappers fouled Dion Kirk en route to collecting a high ball, Antoni Trimboli converted the penalty to open the game’s account; Kirk recovered to double his side’s advantage 14 minutes later.

The Lions pushed, knowing they are capable of producing miracles, a fact that Adelaide Olympic can attest to. The Kings saw off Sturt’s charge to hit the scoreboard twice again before the end of the game, with a defensive miscommunication leading to a Sturt own goal in the 80th minute and substitute Kristos Stefanopoulos adding insult to injury five minutes later with a smart finish.

The Kings continue being the surprise packet of the season, with the Lions desperate to close the gap between their best and worst football in their search for consistency.

Summit Goal Fest

Adelaide City 4-2 Adelaide United Youth

The Young Reds hosted the Champions at the Summit Sports and Recreation Park in Mount Barker and it was a goal fest that mirrored last year’s encounter, where City also found itself victorious in a 4-2 triumph.

It was not as straightforward at the Summit though. The Young Reds started off strong and would have taken the lead if it was not for Dakota Ochsenham’s heroics in the City goals. The Champions were shocked into action, and responded with a quick-fire double, with Daniel Bressan and Ayom Majok striking within the first 15 minutes of the match.

Yaya Dukuly pulled one back from the penalty spot before City defender Thomas Brown restored his side’s two-goal buffer. The game was thrown a curveball when goal scorer Ayom Majok was inexplicably sent off for dissent before halftime.

City energetically saw off the second half, as any Paul Pezos-coached side would, solid defensively, thwarting all of the Young Reds’ advances, even grabbing a fourth, through Aladin Irabona on the counter. The Young Reds grabbed a consolation goal, with Fabian Talladira converting Luka Jovanovic’s rebounded penalty to conclude an unorthodox goal-fest at Mount Barker.

No Way Through

Adelaide Comets 1-0 Adelaide Olympic

With Adelaide City continuing its winning ways, the Comets entered Tuesday night’s matchup needing a win against an Olympic side that has shown signs of being both dazzling and self-destructing this season. The home side had dropped points on the road to the MetroStars in Round 6, with Julian Torresan’s heroics in goal saving the day, and Barney Smith’s side wanted to ensure that a similar stumble was not to be repeated.

It was a tense matchup, with the decisive moment coming in the 35th minute for the Comets. Young defender Thomas Giannakopoulos keeps going from strength to strength, this week showcasing his attacking prowess by playing a sweet through ball to Nikolas Ikonomopoulos who saw his first effort saved by Lewis Moss before converting the rebound.

Before Round 7, Olympic had scored 16 goals in its first six-game and had yet to be held scoreless. That all changed in the hands of the Comets, who did not only just keep a clean sheet, but also limited the visitors to any real clear-cut opportunities.

Match to Watch in Round 8

Campbelltown City and Adelaide Olympic have been two of NPL SA’s most unpredictable sides in Season 2022. On their day, they have proven that their quality is enough to trouble any side in the competition, alongside that, both sides have shown they are prone to disastrous moments that leave viewers scratching their heads.

When Olympic visit the Steve Woodcock Sports Center in Round 8 of the 2022 Season, it is no understatement to say that literally anything can happen. Campbelltown will fancy their chances at home, coming off a win in Round 7, but dismiss Olympic’s sheer firepower at your own peril.

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