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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2023: The winners and losers from Round 20

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 20.

Jonathon Rideout celebrates his first goal against Croydon FC. (Adam Butler/@8zerokms)

The Winners

Temelkovski's dominance sees scoring record tumble

Round 20 saw James Temelkovski remind the MetroStars and the rest of the NPL SA that while no one is perfect, he is pretty close to it when leading his side's line. The striker was allowed to open the scoring from the penalty spot a minute into the action against Adelaide Olympic but astoundingly put his effort wide.

Temelkovski did not let the miss phase him, opening the scoring 10 minutes later, with excellent service from Jackson Walls making it near impossible for him to miss. Temelkovski sent his side into the break two goals up after converting a brilliant Austin Ayoubi pass, with the goal seeing the striker equal Perry Mitris' club goalscoring record for the MetroStars.

Shortly after the break, Temelkovski recorded goals 23 and 24 of the NPL SA season to put Adelaide Olympic to the sword. The MetroStars ran out 5-1 winners as Danny Graystone's men moved two matchdays away from adding another trophy to their collection.

Advantage to the Panthers in the relegation battle

After Sturt's recent resurgence, South Adelaide dropped into the relegation zone. With the onus on them to pick up points, the Panthers took on Finals Series hopefuls Croydon. They made a statement early, opening the scoring in the 16th minute through Jonathon Rideout.

Croydon hit back through Meiya Hisamoto, but Rideout would not let his side be dragged down in such a crucial game, again finding the back of the net to restore the Panthers' lead. Dion Kirk's header pegged South Adelaide back again and saw the two sides head into halftime level.

Hisamoto then gave Croydon the lead for the first time in the 78th minute. But South Adelaide's fight for survival was again evident when Conner Higgins' looping header beat Matt Woithe in the Polonia goal to level proceedings again. Despite gaining the lead twice and having multiple chances to win the match at the death, the Panthers left Round 20 with a solitary point to show for their efforts. But one that, after Sturt's loss, was enough to lift them out of the relegation zone heading into a match against fellow relegation battlers West Adelaide, which will be crucial in the fight to retain NPL status for another season.

The McCabes power Modbury to an important comeback

Modbury entered Round 20 following two disappointing losses, which saw them concede seven goals. They subsequently found themselves two goals down at halftime against a Sturt Lions side desperate for survival, which spelled trouble. Maurice Natale's feelings about his side's performance were clear when he used two substitutions during the halftime break. But two players on the field in the first half made all the difference after the interval.

Six minutes after the second half kicked off, Liam McCabe's pressure saw him neutralise a Sturt clearance before pouncing on the ball and pegging back one of Gonzalo Rodriguez's two goals from the first half. Five minutes after his brother scored, Hamish McCabe took advantage of another errant Sturt clearance to power the ball home from close range, bringing the two sides level.

When the McCabe name is mentioned in the goals column, it is usually associated with Hamish. But Liam was Modbury's hero in Round 20, as he completed their comeback after receiving the ball from his brother and playing a smooth one-two with Stefan Matteo before confidently striking the Jets into the lead. While this loss may prove catastrophic for Sturt, with Lino Fusco's side again dropping into the relegation zone, Modbury effectively confirmed their return to finals football after an impressive second-half blitz by the McCabe brothers.

The Losers

The Young Reds' mean streak extends winless run

In the past few months, Adelaide United Youth has been shattered by player availability. But Airton Andrioli's side has done little to help stem the bleeding. The Young Reds' struggles were unlikely to ease coming up against a high-flying Campbelltown City side, who opened the scoring only eight minutes into their Round 20 clash when Yohei Matsumoto took advantage of a defence that couldn't clear their lines.

Despite being behind, the Young Reds were still in the game until referee Daniel Elder gave Sotiri Phillis his marching orders five minutes later for denying Shogo Yoshikawa a clear goalscoring opportunity as the last man. This red card was Adelaide United's fifth in the previous eight games, contributing to the lack of wins in that same period.

As the game opened up for the Red Devils, Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio curled home a second goal to put the result beyond any doubt. Shogo Yoshikawa added to his tally after the break before Giuseppe Bovalina recorded a consolation goal for an Adelaide United side relieved to regroup their confidence and availability during the three-week World Cup break.

Beograd fail to capitalise on momentum

FK Beograd entered their Round 20 clash against Adelaide City after handily defeating Adelaide United the week prior and having downed the champions earlier in the season. A door was open for Josh Smith's men to return to the top six with an away win, but a tense first half at Oakden saw neither side take advantage of their opportunities.

The scoring was opened in the second half by Adelaide City's Aladin Irabona after the forward maneuvered himself around his defender and smashed his finish into the roof of Jamie Singorello's net. Finding themselves a goal down, Beograd fought for an equaliser, but Adelaide City limited their visitors' opportunities, with Dakota Ochsenham only called into action once following Irabona's strike.

The match ended with Adelaide City's grip on third place tightening. Meanwhile, FK Beograd is spending yet another week outside the top six. With the two teams above and below them all dropping points in Round 20, FK Beograd's inability to pick up results may prove detrimental should this trend continue in the season's final two rounds.

Late drama at West Beach satisfies everyone but its participants

The 90th minute of West Adelaide's clash against the Adelaide Comets saw two sides who have endured their respective disappointing seasons on the verge of sharing the spoils for the second time in 2023. Earlier in the second half, Karl Phelps opened the scoring for Hellas after tapping home a set piece before Jayden LoBasso finished from close range in the 84th minute to bring a frustrated Comets side level.

George Tsonis' men thought they had found a late reprieve in the 93rd minute after Allan Welsh thundered a volley home to give the Comets their first lead of the night. Despite the result seeming all but secured, West Adelaide defender Martins Abesida and multiple teammates ventured forward as Hellas rolled the dice for a final time, and he miraculously poked home an equaliser.

The late drama saw the two sides again unable to be separated. But a point, while entertaining for the neutrals, does little to help either side's league efforts, as both left frustrated after leading the game at some stage. West Adelaide enters the World Cup break still in the relegation zone. Meanwhile, the Comets find themselves ninth, two points away from a coveted top-six spot.

Click here to read our NPL SA winners and losers from Round 19!


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