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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2024: The winners and losers from Round 12

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 12.

Front Page Football: Matt Dawber Adelaide City NPL SA 2024

Matt Dawber's goal restored Adelaide City's lead over South Adelaide in Round 12. (Image: Pagonis Photography)


Winners


City soar out of the relegation zone


Round 12 kicked off at the O'Sullivan Beach Sports & Community Centre where cellar-dwellers South Adelaide hosted fellow relegation-zone-placed Adelaide City in a crucial encounter in the context of both team's seasons. City midfielder Daniel Bressan broke the early stalemate by inventively toe-poking the ball from the edge of the area to beat Lewis Moss at his near post.


City took their lead into half-time, but only four minutes after the restart, Jonathon Rideout caught out his marker on the ball to pounce and beat Dakota Ochsenham in goal to restore parity. Paul Pezos' men retook the lead when a long-range Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio strike was parried into the path of Matt Dawber, who tapped home his team's second.


Rideout had an opportunity to bring the Panthers level again but could not place his shot on target. Young forward Isaac Martini was able to round off the scoring from the bench in injury time, ensuring two consecutive wins for Adelaide City, who escaped the relegation zone for the first time in weeks.

Life under Fyfe is alright


The South Australian football community was rocked early last week by the news that Travis Dodd and Croydon FC had parted ways after three and a half seasons together. Polonia installed his assistant and former Adelaide United teammate Iain Fyfe in his place.


Fyfe, an NPL SA championship-winning player and coach, was tasked with inspiring Croydon to bounce back after dropping a two-goal lead against FK Beograd the previous week. The signs were positive in a strong first half against the Adelaide Croatia Raiders, and Croydon entered half-time deservedly ahead thanks to a second Tom Visser goal in as many weeks.


After the break, Visser was instrumental in Croydon's second goal, setting up Santana Bartkowski for a shot on goal in the 50th minute. A freak deflection made it impossible for Vincent Barbaro to stop the ball from finding the back of his net. Oliver Trimboli clawed back a late goal, but it was not enough to prevent Croydon from beginning the Iain Fyfe era with three points.



A-League Reds go out with a bang


While Round 12 of the NPL SA was concluding on Saturday night, the A-League Men Grand Final took place, with the Central Coast Mariners defeating Melbourne Victory after extra time. The conclusion of the professional calendar means that A-League-listed NPL players will now embark on their mandated month break.


Adelaide United took the opportunity to field their stars for one more game, against Campbelltown City, and it all started well when Daniel Mullen turned in a Panashe Madanha cross for an own goal. Luka Jovanovic then made the most of the space he was afforded on the edge of the box to beat Alex Woodlands at his near post and give the Young Reds a handy two-goal lead at half-time.


Campbelltown would have been bemused with their defensive efforts after a miserly performance against Modbury the previous week, and another error early in the second half allowed Jovanovic to make it three for the visitors. Defensive frailties also appeared on the other side when the Young Reds allowed Marc Marino a quick-fire double to make things interesting, before Harry Crawford sealed the game in the 59th minute with his second goal of the season.


The Young Reds will now have to live without seven starting XI players for a month, with many of the next crop within Adelaide United's youth system about to receive an opportunity to impress.
Front Page Football: Adelaide United NPL SA 2024

Adelaide United's A-League-listed players signed off with a win over Campbelltown City. (Image: Ken Carter)

 

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Losers


Rivals knock Jets down to second


The 2024 NPL SA season kicked off when two rivals from Adelaide's north, the Modbury Jets and Para Hills Knights, faced each other in Round 1. That night, the recently promoted Knights shocked the previous year's Grand Finalists away from home.


Since then, Modbury has recovered well, only losing once while setting the pace of the competition. Meanwhile, like any promoted side, the Knights have had their ups and downs, but they ended the halfway point of the season occupying sixth place.


When the two sides met again in Round 12, it was Para Hills who opened the scoring once more; this time, Abu Hussein continued to complement a strong first season as a consistent NPL starter with goals, netting his third of the season and opening the scoring for a second consecutive week. As he did in Round 1, former Jet Harrison Conant again put the dagger into his former side, with a late goal making it 2-0.


This win means Para Hills have defeated their rivals twice this year, and now occupy the final top six spot for one more week while knocking Modbury off the top spot due to other results.

Absences continue to haunt Beograd


Injuries have been the name of the game for FK Beograd throughout their 2024 campaign. Joining captain Andoni Natsiopoulos on the injury list in Round 12 was goalkeeper Josh Kavenagh, Antoni Trimboli, and Seb Goode. During the warmup for their clash against the MetroStars, the versatile Damian Ljujic suffered an injury scare before starting the match. The injury-riddled Thomas Love then had to be substituted early in the game due to another injury concern.


Despite the negative selection headaches, FK Beograd did not let a first-half Ren Nagamatsu goal dampen their spirits. Jason Konstandopoulos' individual brilliance brought the visitors level heading into half-time at T.K. Shutter Reserve.


Michael Jakobsen arguably got away with a challenge on Nagamatsu in the penalty area early in the second half, and as the game went on, so did MetroStars' territorial dominance. Jakobsen was not so lucky later in the half when a similar challenge was punished by referee Christian Verdicchio, allowing Nagamatsu to extend his goalscoring tally to a competition-leading 13.


Unfortunately for Beograd, the headaches did not only extend to the points lost and the injuries suffered. Compounding it all was a Jakobsen red card, as he received in the same fixture back in Round 1, providing manager Adrian D'Aloia with another issue he needs to solve heading into their next match. Metro winger Lochlan Czapla was also given his marching orders on the night for two quick-fire bookable offences.

Round 1 script repeats for Olympic


A solid performance undone by a more clinical side. That is the one-sentence description of the Round 1 encounter between the Adelaide Comets and Adelaide Olympic. Little changed when the two sides met again at the commencement of their second half of the season on Saturday night.


Olympic was able to compete against the Comets and even created the chances to show for it. Like in Round 1, though, they were thrown off by a first-half Comets goal, this time by Allan Welsh, who was found at the back post from a set-piece, burying home a header.


At the hour mark, Aladin Irabona pounced on a teammate's mishit shot and finished into Cosmo Groff's top corner. Olympic could not find a goal, and thus, the scoreline ended just like the first round, with the Comets finishing two goals to the good.


After Campbelltown City's loss, Adelaide Comets climbed to third, while Adelaide City's win means Adelaide Olympic have dropped into the relegation zone.



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