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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2023: The winners and losers from Round 12

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 twelve.

Fabian Talladira was Adelaide United's hero against South Adelaide on Friday night. (Adam Butler/@8zerokms)

The Winners

Friday night heroes

Adelaide United Youth and Modbury Jets encountered the possibility of dropping valuable points on Friday night. But both sides can thank individual brilliance for the positive results they achieved.

With players that usually feature in the A-League Men left out of the NPL squad during the former league's Finals Series, South Adelaide entered the match against Adelaide United Youth with a clear plan to press, out-body, and fluster a younger-than-usual Young Reds lineup. Airton Andrioli's side eventually found its groove. But it took an inspired Fabian Talladira strike to beat Lewis Moss, who was in top form, making multiple exceptional saves to keep his side alive in the match.

Meanwhile, despite opening the scoring within two minutes in Woodville and his side going two goals and a man up shortly after against FK Beograd, Hamish McCabe's Modbury Jets inexplicably fell behind early in the second half. McCabe took it upon himself to bring the Jets level, scoring an outstanding goal with his left foot from the edge of the box before completing his hat trick by tapping home a Luka Chikwuba cross to ensure the three points went back to Modbury.

Campbelltown's new signings are showing their worth

With his high-flying Campbelltown City side taking on bottom-of-the-ladder Sturt Lions, Michael Matricciani opted to rest Marc Marino and Yohei Matsumoto, two regular starters, with both players eventually featuring in the latter part of the game. Two of Campbelltown's 2023 additions took their place, with Shogo Yoshikawa and Antoni Trimboli allowed to impress.

Campbelltown may have fallen behind on the scoreboard, but thanks to the duo mentioned above, that lasted only a short period. A few minutes after conceding, Trimboli's dummy and subsequent run allowed him to place the ball on a silver platter for Yoshikawa, who brought the Red Devils level heading into the break.

But the two players were not done impacting the game. Daniel Mullen turned in a Yoshikawa corner to give Campbelltown their first lead of the day just over 10 minutes after the restart. Trimboli rounded off the victory in the 68th minute by putting the finishing touch on an impressive team goal, leaving Matricciani pleased with three points whilst resting players and undoubtedly impressed by the hunger and desire his new additions showed.

Barbiero getting better with age

At 39 years old and after considering retirement at the end of the 2022 season, many would have expected Fabian Barbiero to be no more than a handy squad player and a significant off-field presence in Danny Graystone's first season in charge of the MetroStars. All those expectations were surpassed in 2023, with Barbiero being a regular fixture in the starting lineup and recently finding the back of the net consistently.

It started in round ten when the midfielder recorded a rare goal to put the cherry on top of his side's five-goal win over the Sturt Lions. The following week, the veteran midfielder had a chance to tap in an early goal against Modbury. Liam McCabe stopped Barbiero's strike with his hand, leading to a red card. Barbiero's early action and strong play were crucial to a four-goal win despite not scoring on the day.

On the weekend, Barbiero, starting again, doubled his team's lead on the verge of halftime to help lay the foundation for another dominant win, this time against the Adelaide Comets. The midfielder is not getting the nod every week because of his reputation but because he is performing admirably in the engine room of the best team in the competition right now. Having never been a regular goalscorer, this purple patch in front of goals is a bonus that comes along with everything else he offers to Graystone's side.

The Losers

Complacency the theme at Frank Mitchell Park

It sounds like a safe scenario when you're two goals and an extra man up. But on Friday night, the Modbury Jets proved that even a situation like that cannot be taken for granted. The Jets found themselves in this predicament only 20 minutes into their visit to Frank Mitchell Park. But instead of putting the game to bed when it was there for the taking, complacency kicked in.

Ten minutes after the game seemed dead and buried for FK Beograd, Ninko Beric snuck a shot in from range before Micah Lea'alafa finished from an extremely tight angle on the verge of halftime to bring the hosts level. Soon after the restart, 10-man Beograd hit the lead through Doni Pollock. But instead of learning from Modbury's cautionary tale, Beograd replayed the story by going into preservation mode themselves.

Hamish McCabe brought his side level 13 minutes after they lost the lead. With the momentum back on their side, Modbury reclaimed their lost advantage and took all three points home after a wild Friday night match. Both sides found themselves in precarious positions due to complacency. In a competition as tight as the NPL SA, taking the foot off the gas is not a mentality many teams can afford to get familiar with.

Hellas loses the O'Donnell brothers

West Adelaide entered 2023 by struggling for depth and quality. Despite growing into a consistent NPL team that is hard to beat, it would always be challenging when the injuries hit. In round twelve, Hellas fell short once again against Adelaide City. But two potentially severe injuries to players crucial to the team's spine would be more troubling to manager Jim Tsekinis.

On the verge of halftime, midfielder Cooper O'Donnell committed a foul on the edge of his box. But at the same time, his leg was collected in the impact, resulting in O'Donnell needing to be stretchered off the field. The midfielder's combative nature has been crucial for Hellas in 2023, and it has been a big reason why opposing sides have found it hard to break them down.

With ten minutes to go, goalkeeper Jackson O'Donnell, Cooper's brother, collided with Aladin Irabona and hurt his shoulder. He could not finish the game. Teenager Tumbika Kalua was brought on, and he will presumably see a lot of action in the coming weeks. How Hellas deals with these two significant absences will go a long way to deciding the fate of their season.

West Adelaide's Cooper O'Donnell needed assistance to exit the field after a serious injury in the first half of his side's clash against Adelaide City. (Adam Butler/@8zerokms)

Andre Carle's red card helps extend Croydon on both ends

To find the last time Croydon defeated Adelaide Olympic, you have to look back to the 2020 season when Domenic Costanzo's brilliant performance earned his side three points. Over the past three seasons, Olympic has managed to get the best of their M2 counterparts. That continued early in their meeting on Saturday when Cooper Mullins opened the scoring.

Croydon's potential comeback ran into a stumbling block when striker Andre Carle was handed a red card for retaliating to a challenge on the verge of halftime. After a confidence-boosting first half, Jason Trimboli's side continued to place Croydon under siege after the break, only denied a second by goalkeeper Gianni Tramontin and the crossbar.

The hosts had opportunities to counterattack an Olympic side that has leaked goals this season. But without Carle, who showed how devastating he can be in those situations in his last outing against Adelaide City, those opportunities were quickly thwarted by Kristi Vangjeli and Michael Jakobsen. Croydon's disappointing showing means they are now a solitary point outside the relegation zone. Meanwhile, Olympic's second win of the season against Travis Dodd's men saw them climb out of the dropzone.

Click here to read our NPL SA winners and losers from Round 11!


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