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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2023: The winners and losers from Round 13

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 thirteen.

Alex Mullen celebrates scoring a brace in Campbelltown's 4-0 win over the Modbury Jets. (Ken Carter)

The Winners

Patrick McGregor's memorable maiden goal

Adelaide United's involvement in the A-League Men Finals Series meant that Airton Andrioli has had many of his first-team players unavailable recently. The Reds' trip to Gosford meant NPL Reserves regulars such as Patrick McGregor and Joey Garrucio earned a starting berth in the senior NPL side.

Due to the younger-than-usual makeup of the team, the Young Reds could not exercise the same control and creativity over the Adelaide Comets as they have done so often in 2023. Nathan Amanatidis could have put his side ahead. But Allan Welsh opened the scoring for the Comets on Saturday.

George Tsonis' men defended their lead resolutely but were undone deep into injury time by the most unlikely hero. After scoring a brace in the Reserves Federation Cup midweek, Patrick McGregor continued his scoring form. He lived every kid's dream by recording his first senior goal from the edge of the box at the death to rescue a point for his side.

Evergreen Bucco as crucial as ever

At 33, he may be approaching the twilight of his career. But Nicholas Bucco entered round thirteen in red-hot form. In round eleven, the midfielder audaciously scored from halfway to earn his side a point against Croydon before recording the only goal in his side's derby against West Adelaide the week later.

Despite returning to winning ways in round twelve, Adelaide City again stumbled against South Adelaide, going two goals down within the first 16 minutes of the match. Despite Charlie Devereux clawing a goal back for his side, the defending champions still had a mountain to climb to draw level.

City forced the issue throughout the second half. But the Panthers' backline and backup goalkeeper Jude Yeomans denied the Black and White a second goal multiple times. Bucco was the hero for the third consecutive week, placing a free kick beyond the goalkeeper in the 89th minute to earn his side yet another point.

Kristin Konstandopoulos returns with a bang

After missing the first twelve weeks of the season with a persistent groin injury, Adelaide Olympic midfielder Kristin Konstandopoulos returned to action in round thirteen. Despite coming off a victory, Konstandopoulos was a welcome addition to Olympic's starting lineup. They are still entrenched in a relegation battle and just lost Kristin's brother Jason to Adelaide City midseason.

Without Kristin Konstandopoulos, Olympic lost to recently promoted West Adelaide when the two sides last met in round two. But with the midfielder fit this time and Hellas counterpart Cooper O'Donnell out with injury, it would always be a different story. Just two minutes into the game, Konstandopoulos attempted a shot from outside the box, which was too hot to handle for deputising Hellas goalkeeper Tumbika Kalua.

In his first game back from a long-term injury, Konstandopoulos only had an hour of football in him. But it was arguably the most assured hour of football Adelaide Olympic has played in 2023. When the midfielder was substituted, his side had established an unassailable three-goal lead with him in the engine room; Konstandopoulos' contributions will only increase in quantity and quality from here.

The Losers

No winner at Karinya Reserve

Sturt and Croydon entered round thirteen as the two sides more desperate for a change in fortune in the competition, with the former finding themselves bottom. Meanwhile, the latter began the round a single point outside the drop zone. The two teams faced each other in a six-pointer that Croydon won comfortably back in round two.

Sturt began this encounter the brighter, opening the scoring through a scrappy deflection off Tyreece Conway. Lino Fusco's side could have added to their lead from a Gianni Tramontin error but did not take advantage and lived to regret the moment.

In the 82nd minute, Patrick Caraccia and Seb Goode combined to devastating effect, as Goode equalised for Croydon. Both sides concluded the game with a point, seeing them locked into the positions they entered the round in. Sturt could have drawn level with Croydon on the table with a win, while three points could have seen Travis Dodd's men gain some breathing room in the relegation battle. But a stalemate means both sides remain desperate for a win heading into round fourteen.

The floodgates open at West Adelaide

West Adelaide was dealt a rude awakening returning to the NPL in round one, suffering a four-goal loss to rivals Adelaide City. Since then, Hellas has been one of the stingiest defences in the completion, making up for the lack of depth and overall quality by making opposing teams uncomfortable.

It all came undone against Adelaide Olympic on Saturday night, with Kristin Konstandopoulos opening the scoring just two minutes in before a Joe Wright free-kick deflected off the wall and into the back of the net in the eighth minute. Despite Hellas excelling defensively, their attack has often faltered. When Cooper Mullins added a third on the cusp of halftime, nobody saw Jim Tsekinis' men mustering a comeback after the interval.

Mullins struck again after the break to inflict West Adelaide's second four-goal loss this season. With Jackson and Cooper O'Donnell out with serious injuries, Hellas must work out how to stem the bleeding over the next few weeks. West Adelaide's result against the Sturt Lions in round fourteen will determine how the rest of the season plays out for a side that could be in trouble if they do not rediscover their grit.

The gulf in quality between the best and the rest

Round thirteen finished with third and fourth separated by nine points; Adelaide United Youth would need to lose their next three games, while Modbury would need three wins in a row for the two sides to draw level. Along with the Young Reds, who will have their ups and downs due to player availability, the two high-flying North Eastern clubs are in a league of their own and proved as such against fellow Finals Series contenders this round.

The MetroStars kicked off the round on Friday night with a dominant victory away at FK Beograd, a side they previously had issues beating. Danny Graystone's side recorded a four-goal win against a team fifth on the ladder, with marksmen James Temelkoski and Michael Cittadini extending their respective goalscoring streaks with little fuss.

Meanwhile, in Newton, Campbelltown City dispatched the fourth-placed Modbury Jets to the tune of four goals to nil, with Alex Mullen, Antoni Trimboli, and Marc Marino all getting on the scoresheet. The top two face each other next in what promises to be a compelling encounter. But the gulf in quality between the top teams and their opponents nearby is far from ideal for the league.

Click here to read our NPL SA winners and losers from Round 12!


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