NPL SA 2023: The winners and losers from Round 10
Throughout the 2023 NPL SA season, Front Page Football looks at each week's big winners and losers from the action-packed South Australian top flight. Below are our picks from round ten.
Marc Marino celebrates putting Adelaide City to the sword in Round 10 of the 2023 NPL SA season. (Ken Carter)
Diamantis shines off the bench
Winless since March and finding themselves two goals and a man down away to the Modbury Jets, many would have assumed Adelaide Comets would succumb to yet another disappointing result in April. When Matt Mullen's red card also brought the Jets down to 10 men, Comets coach George Tsonis introduced the fresh legs of Jaiden Diamantis to chase what felt like a losing cause.
Only two minutes after his introduction, Diamantis received a pass from fellow forward Anthony Mavrolambados. The former made no mistake, curling home from the edge of the box to give his side a glimmer of hope at the hour mark. Inspired by the recent events, Comets rallied and soon equalised through defender Tom Giannakopoulos.
Having momentum and belief on their side, Comets once again charged forward. A Jayden LoBasso cross found Diamantis, who expertly controlled the ball before cooly slotting through the crowded penalty area and beyond Modbury goalkeeper Ryan Neild to give his side their only win in April. Diamantis' game-changing impact off the bench will undoubtedly cause Tsonis a positive selection headache as Comets host South Adelaide this week.
Marc Marino kicks the Champions while they're down
Campbelltown's clash against Adelaide City always shaped up as a grudge match, with the Black and White qualifying for the 2022 Grand Final and winning a second straight championship, at the expense of the Red Devils. With Michael Matricciani's side in top-three form and Adelaide City struggling for consistency outside the top-six, this game was the perfect opportunity for Campbelltown to exact revenge.
Just minutes into the match, Marc Marino's runs behind Adelaide City's unsettled defence were causing problems. Marino was played through in the sixth minute by Josh Barresi, and he rounded Dakota Ochsenham, with his finish from a tight angle being bundled over by Juan Gutierrez to open the scoring.
The champions hit back almost instantly with an equaliser. But Marino again separated his side on the day; this time, he had an easy tap-in from Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio's perfectly-placed cross. Adelaide City rediscovered some form while trying to mount a comeback. But Campbelltown was too good on the day, with Marc Marino proving to be a thorn that the ailing champions could not shake off.
Higgins steals the show to help the Rideouts' scoring burden
Coming into season 2023, South Adelaide was something of a known quantity. They are a side that leaves a lot to be desired defensively but one that could down any opposition on their day with the offensive brilliance of Jonathon and Alex Rideout.
Coming into Round 10, the brothers combined to score 10 of their side's 15 goals. But with the scoring drying up recently, South's defensive frailties began to show, with no other side allowing more goals. Their opposition on the weekend has the exact opposite traits, with defence being West Adelaide's forte, with struggles on the offensive side.
The Rideouts could not find a way onto the scoresheet. But Conner Higgins' brilliance opened the scoring for the home side to shock the visitors. The Panthers' poor marking did allow a Hellas equaliser, but Higgins' goal was enough for a point. Should South Adelaide survive, players like Higgins must step up and help carry the burden of their overworked stars.
Sturt's struggles at both ends of the pitch continue
Every team has their strengths and weaknesses. But for Sturt, at the moment, neither side of the ball is doing them any favours. After conceding three at Modbury, defending was the name of the game against the high-scoring MetroStars. Despite conceding in the first half, the Lions went into halftime only one goal down while doing a reasonable job of frustrating their opposition.
When a lucky break saw MetroStars captain Anthony Solagna double his side's lead around the hour mark, everything went downhill for Sturt. Danny Graystone's side scored three more through James Temelkovski, Michael Cittadini, and Fabian Barbiero to claim an impressive away win and add another game to Sturt's ever-increasing list of disappointing results in 2023.
With only a single shot on target and having scored a measly seven goals in 10 games, the worst return in the league, the Lions were never going to be much of a threat. Combine that with 23 goals conceded in the same period, only two behind South Adelaide; it spells disaster for Sturt should their fortunes stay the same at both ends of the field.
The bad and the ugly results of red cards
Red cards change games, and both the Adelaide Comets and the Modbury Jets felt the full scale of emotions of that fact in Round 10. After the Jets took an early lead at home, Comets defender Filimon Asefa was sent off for making contact with the referee whilst protesting a Modbury free kick.
This decision allowed Modbury to continue dominating before they added a second goal as the second half kicked off through Hamish McCabe. Modbury was cruising to what seemed like an easy three points before Christian Verdicchio sent off Jets defender Matt Mullen for a dangerous challenge.
After benefiting from a Comets red card, Modbury faced the consequences of their own, surrendering the lead and falling behind within 17 minutes. Comets took home the three points. But on another day, they would have been unable to shake off the impact of a red card like the circumstances allowed them to in Round 10.
Positive performances not maximised
After FK Beograd and Croydon FC recorded much-needed positive results in Round 9, both teams entered their respective matches against Adelaide Olympic and Adelaide United, looking to turn a week of good form into the beginning of a positive run of results.
Despite dominating Olympic for most of the game, Beograd left the match without a goal for their efforts. Doni Pollock thought he had scored before he was ruled offside. Micah Lea'alafa went close to making it two stunning goals in as many games. However, Callum Nissen was not to be beaten in the Olympic goal, as the match finished scoreless.
Croydon went behind early against Adelaide United. But they showed character to wrestle back a goal and control the game heading into halftime. The second half saw Travis Dodd's side put together a solid pressing performance, which affected the league leaders, rendering them scoreless after the break. Unfortunately for Croydon, they also could not find a second goal and, just like Beograd, had to settle for a point.
Click here to read our NPL SA winners and losers from Round 9!