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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2023: The winners and losers from Round 3

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 three of the 2023 season.

The Metro Stars and star striker James Temelkovski proved too much for Campbelltown City in round three. (Ken Carter)

The Winners

Adelaide Comets' all-action centre-backs

They say the best form of defence is offence, and centre-backs Tom Giannakopoulos and Adam Le Cornu proved there is some substance to that proverb. After holding FK Beograd scoreless in the first half on Saturday and seeing their side struggle to score, the defenders took swift action after the break.

First, Giannakopoulos tapped in after a goalmouth scramble early in the second half to open the scoring. Only four minutes later, fellow Comets central defender Le Cornu nodded in Ryan Yates' free kick to double his side's advantage.

With nothing to lose, Beograd threw the kitchen sink at the hosts. But George Tsonis' side remained resolute, with immense contributions at the back from both defenders, who commanded their area well alongside their fullbacks. This solidity opened the door for Niko Ikonomopoulos to enter the game from the bench and seal a match that was undoubtedly claimed by his side's defensive partnership at both ends of the field.

James Temelkovski's prolificacy

James Temelkovski raised eyebrows after an impressive performance against NPL Victoria champions Oakleigh Cannons during pre-season. The expectations were high for the striker at T.K. Shutter Reserve, and so far, he has delivered every time he has taken the pitch.

Temelkovski struck in his side's round one win against Comets before bringing Metro level with FK Beograd the week after. In round three against Campbelltown, he got his side level again with a booming finish from a tight angle.

Late in the encounter against the Red Devils, the forward struck once again to earn his side all three points. Early in the season, Temelkovski is showing how a prolific striker in a good side can quickly pile up goals and how important one can be for results. So far, each of his four goals has either brought Metro level or given them the lead.

South Adelaide's brotherly, goalscoring love

South Adelaide was predicted to struggle in season 2023. But when the Rideout brothers are on song, they look irresistible. With Alex suspended in round two, Jonathon's brilliance single-handedly dragged the side to an impressive victory over champions Adelaide City.

An early injury to Daniel Evans saw Alex Rideout reintroduced from the bench in round three, which spelled bad news for Adelaide Olympic, who had already gone a goal behind due to a successful Jonathon Rideout penalty. Inspired by his brother's heavy lifting, Alex placed a free kick into the top corner with aplomb to put the Panthers even further ahead.

Treating the match like a competition against his brother, Jonathon once again found the net to double his tally for the night and put the game beyond any doubt. Few defenders will contain their quality in the final third when the Rideout brothers perform like this. Adelaide City and now experienced centre-back duo Michael Jakobsen and Kristi Vangjeli can now attest to that fact.

The Losers

Croydon's lack of killer instinct

One of the most eye-catching round two events was Croydon scoring five goals, with Polonia's struggles in attack noticeable last season. But after seven goals across the first two rounds, there was hope those days were a thing of the past.

Against Modbury, Croydon found themselves 2-1 down. But they were boosted after Darsem Shaksi received his marching orders for a second bookable offence. Travis Dodd's side was behind but had half an hour of football to look forward to with an extra man against a recently promoted side.

Despite dominating territory, Croydon could not substantially test the Modbury defence, as Shaksi's dismissal did not impact the result. Croydon's defence has been noticeably looser so far in 2023. They must score heavily to make the Finals Series for a second consecutive year if that trend continues.

Campbelltown's Metro struggles

Campbelltown City is one of the most formidable teams in the NPL SA. But one side it has struggled against recently is its northeastern neighbour, the Metro Stars. Heading into round three, the Red Devils had lost four of their last five encounters against their local rivals.

After dropping points late in round two, Campbelltown needed confidence, and conceding early at T.K. Shutter certainly did not provide that. Yohei Matsumoto brought his side level before Metro once again pegged back the Red Devils.

Josh Barresi found an equaliser, but the misfortune continued for Campbelltown as James Temelkovski sealed all three points for his new side. Campbelltown's bogey fixture came at the wrong time, with Michael Mattriciani's men winless since round one. They now face a challenging game against FK Beograd, another talented but frustrating side.

New-look centre-back partnerships concede heavily

In season 2023, FK Beograd and Adelaide Olympic revamped their central-defensive partnerships, the former due to players receiving exciting opportunities and the latter due to letting in too many goals. Despite the quality in their ranks, both sides are still clearly in their learning curve phase, conceding heavily in round three.

Beograd's centre-back partnership comprises Jared Clark and Yared Abetew, both trustworthy defenders who have spent time in Adelaide United's system. The pair held up well in open play against Comets, but they were at the heart of conceding three set-piece goals on the weekend.

Olympic's centre-back pairing boasts national team experience, with Michael Jakobsen and Kristi Vangjeli representing their respective nations at a senior level. Their quality is key for Olympic, but their role has to extend to coaching inexperienced teammates through games. This aspect is still a work in progress after their side conceded three goals to South Adelaide.

Click here to read our NPL SA winners and losers from Round 2!


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