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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2023: The winners and losers from Round 2

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 two of the 2023 season.

Promoted West Adelaide picked up their first win back in the top-flight with a 2-0 success against Adelaide Olympic. (Adam Butler/80Kms)

The Winners

Homecoming Kings

Life has been challenging for Croydon the last few seasons after its home, Polonia Reserve, got claimed for the expansion of the North-South Motorway. Despite performing capably on the pitch, Polonia's players and coaches were training out of Ethelton and playing at West Torrens Birkalla; Saturday saw the official ending of this saga.

Travis Dodd's side played its first NPL game at their new home, which was memorable. Fittingly, the first senior NPL goal at the new facility was scored by captain Łukasz Klimek, who has represented his beloved club over 350 times.

The joy of the first half turned into a party in the second half, with Meiya Hisamoto, Andre Carle, and Froribrert Niyonkuru combining to add a further four goals to cancel out Gonzalo Rodriguez's brace for Sturt. Croydon looked like a competent football side on Saturday. They seemed ecstatic to be relieved of the burden of traversing Adelaide to complete their weekly footballing duties.

Mori's Metro grudge

Since departing the MetroStars at the end of the 2021 NPL SA season, Josh Mori has taken his game to the next level at FK Beograd. The forward won the Golden Boot in 2022. His former club felt the brunt of his goalscoring prowess, with all five of Beograd's goals against Metro last season being scored by Mori, while his side claimed all six points in the process.

Mori is so irresistible against his old side that his former teammate, Metro goalkeeper Isaac Carmody, cleared the ball straight to him in round two, leading to the forward setting up teammate Donny Pollock for the opener early in the encounter. Despite a fast start, Mori was frustrated when Metro got back into the game, grabbing an equaliser. He had also missed multiple good opportunities.

As the game entered injury time, it was clear Metro's players had forgotten the forward's 2022 exploits, leaving him free in the box. Mori took full advantage, using the space he was afforded to decidedly head in the third winning goal in as many encounters against his former side.

Rideout Redemption

Jonathon Rideout left round one an extremely frustrated player. His run and goal against Adelaide United Youth were ruled an inconclusive offside, whilst he also saw brother Alex bafflingly sent off late in the game, rendering him unavailable to face champions Adelaide City. On Monday night, Rideout performed like a man on a mission.

Matthew Halliday is regarded as one of South Australia's premier defenders. But he was helpless trying to contain Rideout, who effortlessly slalomed past him to slot the opener past Dakota Ochsenham. When he was not scoring, Rideout was providing. His skill and quick feet put the ball on a silver platter for teammate Phil Cash to give the Panthers a shock two-goal lead heading into halftime against a team that only lost one NPL SA match in 2022.

Adelaide City scored first in the second half and threatened to equalise, but Rideout had yet to have his final say. The forward ensured the points stayed at O'Sullivan Beach with a solo counterattacking effort. He passed the ball into an empty net, celebrating what is sure to be one of the most impressive performances of the season.

The Losers

Complacent big hitters

Friday's extreme heat saw Adelaide City and Campbelltown City have their respective games delayed to Monday. Despite the inconvenient time slot, both sides entered round two expecting to claim straightforward victories against inferior sides on paper.

Last season's top two sides were reminded that games are not played on paper, each suffering shocking results. Down south, Jonathon Rideout's brilliance singlehandedly outdid City, whose defeat means they have already matched their 2022 loss tally two weeks into season 2023.

Meanwhile, in Modbury, Campbelltown squandered a two-goal lead to a Jets side that had fallen to ten men after captain Jesse Francesca was sent off. In a season forecasted to be close, these moments may make a big difference when all is said and done; expect this week to be a wake-up call for both sides.

Olympic's absences

Adelaide Olympic began the season with a notable player missing; the absence of Kristin Konstandopoulos was heavily felt in the midfield. Come round two, the list of absentees had only grown, affecting the side's performance in a surprising loss to West Adelaide.

After a solid debut, Michael Jakobsen was not involved in round two. Round one hero Christos Pounendis was also substituted early in the game on Saturday with an injury to make matters worse. These omissions led to an uninspiring performance, with it painfully evident that Andrew Calderbank's team struggled to create chances.

This performance came against West Adelaide, a club that has been tipped to battle against relegation. Hellas found two late goals to floor Olympic, and it will give them confidence moving forward. Meanwhile, the visitors return to Angle Park hoping to regain their stars sooner rather than later.

Sturt's lacklustre start

At the end of round two of the season, Sturt Lions are rooted to the bottom of the ladder as the only team yet to collect a single point. The Lions may count themselves unlucky not to salvage a point in round one. But in their most recent game, there were no excuses.

Lino Fusco's side faced Croydon, a team that has struggled to score in the past and also gave up three goals in the season's opening round. Despite that, the Lions inexplicably conceded five times to Travis Dodd's side. Sturt's two goals came at a time when they felt like consolation.

Sturt has shown they can fight battles in the Finals Series. But this start to the season would trouble their fans. The Lions welcome West Adelaide to Karinya Reserve in round three. The pressure is on, with anything other than a win not good enough after a sluggish start to the season.

Click here to read our NPL SA winners and losers from Round 1!


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