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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2024: The winners and losers from Round 11

Throughout the 2024 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 11.

NPL SA 2024: Croydon FC Luke Klimek NPL SA 2024

Croydon FC celebrated Luke Klimek's 400th game in Round 11 of the 2024 NPL SA season. (Image: Pagonis Photography)


An unlikely goalscorer and an impressive clean sheet

One of Round 11's eye-catching fixtures took place on Friday night when the league-leading Modbury Jets took on fourth-placed Campbelltown City. With attacking talent which included the McCabe brothers, Francesco Schmizzi, Alex Mullen, Marc Marino, and Josh Mori all starting this match, both defences were on high alert.

Both sides sent early warning shots, but the Red Devils opened the scoring through an unlikely source. Despite the aforementioned offensive quality on the pitch, the 12th minute saw Campbelltown left-back Jake Halliday get on the end of a Shogo Yoshikawa corner to open the scoring when the Jets could not clear the ball on the goal line. Michael Matricciani’s men took the lead into half-time.

Modbury frantically chased an equaliser either side of the interval and even had multiple penalty shouts waved away. Still, after leaking two goals at home to Para Hills, Campbelltown were wary of allowing their dangerous opponents time and space.

When the Red Devils win, we usually expect multiple goals. That was not the case on Friday night as we saw the grit of a title-challenger keeping the free-scoring league leaders scoreless away from home to claim an impressive three points.

City roar back into form

It has to be said that Adelaide City have been better in recent weeks than their eight-game winless run in the league suggests. Regardless, when Paul Pezos' side conceded in the third minute of their Round 11 match against Adelaide Olympic, it seemed like they were in for another painful week. Thankfully for the Black and White, Marco Torriani's early goal was cancelled out by Matt Dawber via a set piece.

On the cusp of half-time, City took advantage of Olympic's lax marking and Adam Piscioneri was found on the edge of the box during a free-kick routine to give his side a rare lead at the break in 2024. City received a gift early in the second half when Martins Abesida was sent off for bringing down Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio as the last man, and this advantage was one they were not going to squander.

A few minutes later, Lawrie-Lattanzio scored from long range and showed his faith in Pezos by running over and embracing his manager before any of his teammates. It was all downhill from there for Olympic, with Nicholas Bucco and Dawber combining for the former to make it four, before Daniel Bressan's close-range volley made it five 10 minutes later.

Harry Thomas was later fouled in the box by Rastko Ljujic, which allowed Bressan to put the cherry on top of an emphatic win from the penalty spot. While a win was not enough to get City out of the relegation zone, they are now one point away from Olympic and are eagerly awaiting Friday night's game against South Adelaide, where they will be looking to extend this form.

Croatia absorb pressure to defeat Young Reds

Despite being winless across their previous three games, Vlado Blazeka's Adelaide Croatia Raiders refused to lower their colours. Taking on an Adelaide United side blessed with a multitude of attacking talents, Croatia had to be slightly more pragmatic in their approach, but that did not subtract from their firepower.

The Young Reds threatened early through multiple chances from Luka Jovanovic, with Jonny Yull even hitting the post from range. Croatia scored first as Frank Busasa made an impact in another big game, winning a penalty against Cameron Harris which Katsuyoshi Kimishima placed beyond Ethan Cox's reach. Jovanovic had another chance to bring his side level but his close-range effort rattled the crossbar.

The beginning of the second half almost mirrored the start of the first, with Adelaide United threatening but Raiders absorbing the pressure. This time, former Young Red Calum Campbell delivered the counterpunch with a second goal that doubled the away side's lead.

As the game continued, Adelaide United could not find their shooting boots and were increasingly frustrated by probably the most disciplined showing Adelaide Croatia has put together in 2024, which earned them their first win in four games.



The gap widens for South Adelaide

To say South Adelaide entered Round 11 desperate for three points would be an understatement. Anthony Rideout's side, 12th on the ladder, conceded a late goal in a six-pointer against fellow strugglers Adelaide Olympic last week at home, before travelling for a Friday night match against the Para Hills Knights.

It all went wrong for the visitors from the third minute when a couple of lapses of concentration in defence allowed Harrison Conant to square the ball to Abu Hussein, who opened the scoring for the hosts. Conant turned goalscorer in the 42nd minute as the ball fortuitously sat up for him on the edge of the area before he volleyed it past Lewis Moss, leaving the Panthers with more questions than answers heading into half-time.

The Panthers could not vary their plan of attack and, in turn, were kept scoreless. Lansana Smith recorded his side's third goal in injury time to ensure that the Knights ended the halfway point of the season in the top six. Meanwhile, South Adelaide remain at the bottom on five points, two wins away from Adelaide Olympic, who are just outside the relegation zone with 11 points from 11 matches.

Collapse dampens club legend's milestone

In the leadup to Croydon’s game against FK Beograd, the attention was on one player, Polonia captain Luke Klimek, who suited up for his 400th game. In the fifth minute of the match, Klimek had the chance to open the scoring with a penalty, which he could not place on target. Yet, five minutes later, the fullback managed to chip the opposition goalkeeper to continue his uncanny trend of scoring on big occasions.

A dominant first half for Croydon ended with the hosts disappointed only to be one goal up. That feeling did not last long. A superb Klimek ball three minutes into the second half allowed Tom Visser to slip between the Beograd defenders and goalkeeper and slot his side’s second goal into an empty net.

FK Beograd looked down and out before experienced defender Michael Jakobsen rose the highest to head home his side’s first goal in the 73rd minute. Croydon was left to rue their wasteful first half when new Beograd signing Matt Maio sensationally turned the match on its head by equalising only 12 minutes later.

Croydon’s unfortunate demise was completed in the 90th minute when Beograd Vice-Captain Ninko Beric scored his side’s third goal in the space of 17 minutes, sealing an impressive comeback that spoiled the home side’s celebration of a South Australian football legend.

Metro falter with numerical advantage

The MetroStars and Adelaide Comets are two of the NPL SA's premier teams, and that is the case once again in 2024, with the two sides entering their Round 11 match sitting second and third on the ladder, respectively. These encounters are always engrossing, and Ren Nagamatsu ensured that remained the case when he assumed his newfound role of creator, finding Michael Cittadini with a pinpoint cross in the seventh minute, who opened the scoring.

Only 12 minutes later, the Comets hit back through Nikolas Ikonomopoulos, who tapped home a much easier goal than his midweek wonder-strike against FK Beograd in the Cup, created by an intelligent pass from Roberto Fernandez Garrido in the box. The hosts had the last say of the half when Noah McNamara beat Dan Vaughan to the ball from a corner in the 40th minute, sending Metro into half-time ahead.

In the second half, the task was made considerably tougher for the Comets when Nathan Andijanto was sent off for a kickout on Christian Sotira. Having the lead and the numbers was a huge advantage for the hosts, but they turned out to be their own worst enemies when a comical moment saw Jackson Walls head the ball back to Christian D'Angelo instead of his goalkeeper. The defender miscued his clearance, which ended on the grateful path of the pressing Jayden Lo Basso, who astonishingly sealed a point for the undermanned Comets in bizarre fashion.

Danny Graystone will be disappointed his team gifted another side a point after an own goal last week ensured Adelaide City earned a draw against the MetroStars.

If you look back to the early weeks of the season the frustration deepens, as Modbury played out a game at TK Shutter Reserve with 10 men for over an hour and drew with the MetroStars, who must learn to kill off games before the situation becomes detrimental.


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