NPL SA 2023: The winners and losers from Round 11
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 eleven.
Niko Ikonomopoulos celebrates his stunning strike that salvaged a point for the Adelaide Comets against South Adelaide. (Adam Butler/@8zerokms)
Bucco and Ikonomopoulos' stunning efforts
The 2021 and 2022 NPL SA Grand Finalists have not had the smoothest of seasons so far in 2023. Adelaide City and the Adelaide Comets entered their respective clashes against Croydon FC and South Adelaide, the former outside the top six and the latter clinging to their spot within it.
As they've done so often this season, both sides fell behind. But in round eleven, both rescued a point spectacularly. First, without hesitation, Nicholas Bucco smashed a bouncing ball from a couple of steps behind the halfway line over Gianni Tramontin's head to bring his side level, a goal that will be remembered for years after Bucco has retired.
Later in the day, with the game a minute from injury time, Niko Ikonomopoulos tried his luck from range and gave Lewis Moss no hope with a strike into the top corner at top speed to seal a point for his side. Both players are winners in our books. But there will be heated discussions about who will secure the coveted Carl's Junior voucher this week, awarded to the Goal of the Week recipient.
Josh Mori keeps Beograd ticking
In recent weeks it has felt like FK Beograd has returned to its expected trajectory. But after dominating without converting in their round ten fixture against Adelaide Olympic, Josh Smith's side had to get the job done against the lowly Sturt Lions. Beograd was arguably the better side in a first-half arm wrestle. Despite Ninko Beric going close, they could not make their good play count where it mattered.
As is often the case, captain and 2022 top-scorer Josh Mori pulled Beograd out of a tough spot, as he opened the scoring from a tight angle after a James Klappers parry fell his way. Despite taking the lead, the visitors seemingly stopped chasing goals. They encouraged their opposition instead of putting the game to bed.
Sturt created plenty of chances in the second half but could not find an equaliser, allowing Beograd to claim three points from a performance they will not be overjoyed with. Getting results without playing particularly well separates teams at the season's pointy end. With a clinical striker like Mori, being on the positive side of games like that is always likely for Beograd.
Three brilliant braces by the North Eastern clubs
MetroStars and Campbelltown City ended the first half of the NPL SA season as the top two clubs on the ladder. Three players struck braces in their respective games over the weekend. At T.K. Shutter Reserve, fullback Scott Nagel took advantage of Modbury's early red card to get into advanced positions, finishing off a superb team move for his team's second goal before concluding the rout with Metro's fifth in the 55th minute.
At Angle Park, Campbelltown's Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio continued his superb form since his return to South Australia, combining with Marc Marino to open the scoring in the sixth minute. The winger added his side's third goal in the second half, showing class and composure by controlling the ball and finishing comfortably past Callum Nissen.
Lawrie-Lattanzio's teammate Josh Barresi mirrored the winger's goalscoring feats, scoring the Red Devils' second goal through a long shot the goalkeeper got a hand to but could not keep out. Four minutes later Lawrie-Lattanzio completed his brace, and Barresi then did the same by placing Alex Mullen's cutback into the top corner, putting the three points beyond any doubt.
Liam McCabe's early sacrifice backfires
Modbury's plans of upsetting Metro were thrown out the window only two minutes after kick-off when defender Liam McCabe desperately threw out a hand to prevent Fabian Barbiero's shot from crossing the line. The defender's effort was futile as he was sent off, with Hamish Gow converting the resulting penalty.
Modbury was behind early and had 86 minutes to contend with the league leaders while being numerically disadvantaged. Scott Nagel doubled his side's advantage before Stefan Matteo brought his team back within a goal. Modbury's resurgence was not to last, with James Temelkovski converting another penalty and Michael Cittadini curling in an effort from outside the box to make it four going into halftime.
Nagel doubled his tally early in the second half. Despite the MetroStars not adding anymore after that, they spent the rest of the match controlling the tempo against their discouraged visitors. Modbury now travels to Frank Mitchell Park to take on FK Beograd without one McCabe. Nonetheless, they will undoubtedly be pleased to be able to right the wrongs of their round eleven performance, this time with eleven men on the pitch.
Adelaide Olympic's hopes of a new manager bounce dashed
Jason Trimboli's first match in charge of Adelaide Olympic in round ten saw his side live dangerously but eventually survive with a point. A much better effort was required against the high-flying Campbelltown City to turn his new side's fortunes around.
It all turned sour for the hosts only six minutes in when Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio opened the scoring for the Red Devils. Despite the setback, Olympic looked competitive, threatening Campbelltown on the counter. But the visitors scored again before halftime through Josh Barresi.
As mentioned, Lawrie-Lattanzio and Barresi added another goal each in the second half before Antoni Trimboli and Santana Bartkowski rounded off a comprehensive win. Jason Trimboli and Olympic travel just two kilometres down the road to take on Croydon FC in round twelve, where they will hope to turn their fortunes around in the relegation battle.
Young Reds squander the lead twice
Coming into their round eleven meeting against Adelaide United Youth, it was crucial West Adelaide kept their high-scoring opposition at bay, especially with Hellas only scoring multiple goals in two of the opening ten games of the season. When Musa Toure opened the scoring for the Young Reds, it seemed like it would be a long day for Jim Tsekinis' side.
Adelaide United threatened but could not add another goal before halftime, opening the door for Hellas to strike in the second half. Airton Andrioli's men could not clear a loose ball in the box after a free kick. West Adelaide striker Joe Gatting took advantage, converting and bringing his side level.
Nathan Amanatidis scored against his former side to restore United's lead. But minutes later, the Young Reds again failed to clear their lines, allowing Nicholas Stefanopoulos to draw his side level. The Young Reds' inability to shut out the chaos West Adelaide created in their box sees them drop to third on the table after Campbelltown's smashing victory over Adelaide Olympic.
Click here to read our NPL SA winners and losers from Round 10!