NPL SA 2023: The winners and losers from Round 6
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 six.
Martins Abesida had a two-minute spell to forget as his side went down to Josh Mori's FK Beograd. (Adam Butler/@8zerokms)
Metro's squad steps up
Off the back of James Temelkovski's incredible form, it's no surprise the Metro Stars have been flying. But Friday night games at South Adelaide are rarely an easy proposition for any team. After falling behind early, Metro saw two contributors aid their comeback bid.
Soon after conceding, winger Michael Cittadini converted Jackson Walls' cross to bring his side level. Temelkovski did get back on the scoresheet, the striker having the opportunity to put Metro ahead thanks to Cittadini's creatively lobbed pass.
In the second half, the Panthers earned a penalty and the chance to equalise. But 200-game goalkeeper Isaac Carmody, whose distribution was at fault for South's opener, thwarted Alex Rideout's attempt to keep the score in Metro's favour. The scoreline remained unchanged, and the Metro Stars earned another three points. Cittadini and Carmody left the match with an undoubted confidence boost, having played pivotal roles in an impressive victory.
Ashton Rinaldo shuts out Olympic
The Adelaide Comets gained an early lead away from home only minutes into their game against Adelaide Olympic. Despite being rocked early, the home side fought hard for an equaliser, only to be consistently denied by Comets' young goalkeeper Ashton Rinaldo.
The shot-stopper forced a close-range header wide in the 11th minute before acrobatically saving two free-kicks late in the first half. If Olympic's players were not already disheartened, Rinaldo continued his heroics in the second half, once again denying a free-kick with an impressive save in the 53rd minute.
Neither side could find the back of the net again, with Rinaldo's heroics just as important in the fight for the three points as Binyam Kebede's winner. It has been a mixed season for Rinaldo after returning to Comets following a brief stint with Adelaide United. But this performance will surely give the young goalkeeper, and his teammates, confidence.
Aladin Irabona makes amends
Aladin Irabona's bizarre penalty miss last weekend left many South Australian football fans scratching their heads and Adelaide City with only a solitary point from a game where they expected victory. Coming up against Sturt, the expectation was similar, and the forward would never be off his game for two consecutive weeks.
Despite dominating territory, City did not look like scoring for most of the first half. That all changed when Irabona pounced on a ball in the box and slipped it across to Nicholas Bucco, who opened the scoring with one of the last actions of the half.
Minutes after the restart, Irabona put the match beyond any doubt, tapping Juan Gutierrez's ball past the Sturt goalkeeper. On a day where the champions needed some certainty in front of goals, their trusted forward delivered just that, along with three vital points.
Two minutes to forget for Martins Abesida
A tough match between West Adelaide and FK Beograd seemed all but set to be the first scoreless draw of the season. Both sides have conceded more than they would have liked while also struggling for goals in 2023. So when the game entered its final 15 minutes as a scoreless draw, many would have understood the cautious approach taken by both coaches.
This approach all fell apart for West Adelaide when one of their most consistent defenders, Martins Abesida, committed an uncharacteristic error. In his attempt to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick, the defender got a touch due to Ninko Beric's pressure.
Instead of letting the ball run out for a corner, Abesida tried to find a teammate. But his attempt landed with Beograd winger Micah Lea'alafa, whose cross made it through a sea of legs before ending up with Josh Mori, who opened the scoring. Two minutes later, Abesida was given a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Mori, dashing Hellas' hopes of earning a point against Beograd.
Asad Kasumovic's costly moment of madness
After a blistering start to the season, the Young Reds entered their encounter against the Modbury Jets as the favourites. But the game's complexion changed after only 25 minutes due to a moment of madness. Unhappy with the close attention paid to him by his marker, Jokew Wuol, Adelaide United forward Asad Kasumovic swang his arm toward the defender's face, which saw him sent off and left his team shorthanded.
The Young Reds did take the lead, but it was an advantage that only lasted three minutes. Giuseppe Macheda's goal brought the visitors level. It gave Modbury a grasp on the match they did not let go of against a dishearted and fatigued Adelaide United side.
Modbury captain Jesse Francesca made the most of that fatigue, capitalising on the space afforded him to rocket a shot off the post and into the back of the net for the winner. The Jets took the points home, but the Young Reds will wonder what the match would have looked like with 11 players competing for 90 minutes.
The bottom three earn their positions
After six rounds of action, three sides are rooted towards the bottom of the table, with only one win for their efforts. Round six did not see any of them improve their fortunes. Adelaide Olympic went down mere minutes into their matchup against the Comets. Despite the heroics mentioned above by Ashton Rinaldo between the sticks, the league's cellar dwellers did not do enough to earn a point.
With only one victory against recently promoted West Adelaide, Sturt Lions visited Oakden to face an Adelaide City side that failed to earn three points against Adelaide Olympic the previous week. Despite facing beatable opposition, Sturt could not take advantage of their early chances and succumbed to City's pressing game to bow down to another defeat.
Campbelltown City spoiled Croydon's official opening ceremony of their new ground. Travis Dodd's side is only outside the relegation zone because the sides mentioned above are unable to put points on the board. With sides just above them showing glimpses of consistency, Adelaide Olympic, Sturt Lions, and Croydon have to start stringing some positive results together to avoid a stressful back end of the season.
Click here to read our NPL SA winners and losers from Round 5!