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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2024: The winners and losers from Round 13

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 13.

Front Page Football: Aladin Irabona Adelaide Comets South Adelaide Panthers NPL SA 2024

Aladin Irabona ran rampant as the Adelaide Comets found the back of the net six times against South Adelaide. (Image: Pagonis Photography)


Returning captain and young striker shine for Beograd

FK Beograd's first season under Adrian D'Aloia has had its successes, but the team has also suffered from an increased number of player unavailability. Despite missing Michael Jakobsen due to a suspension, Beograd entered Round 12 against Adelaide Olympic by finally regaining captain Andoni Natsiopoulos after he missed the majority of the first half of the season with a hamstring injury.

In his first game back, Natsiopoulos was given an hour of football, and just minutes before he was summoned to the bench, the midfielder popped up in the box to score from a set piece and make it 1-0 for the hosts.

While Natsiopoulos came off, young striker Maksim Ivanic came on for Matt Maio. It only took him six minutes to score his first goal of the season. That strike did Ivanic's confidence a world of good, and the forward found a second goal only 10 minutes later.

Ivanic turned provider in the 85th minute to assist Jason Konstandopoulos, putting the cherry on top of a comprehensive victory against his former side.

Relegation-threatened to Finals bolters

In a competition as tight as the NPL SA, a change in form can quickly translate on the league table. Just over a fortnight ago, Adelaide City was winless for two months before finally getting their first win against Adelaide Olympic.

Despite the drought-breaking win, City remained in the relegation zone, a position they escaped the following week after defeating South Adelaide away from home. Entering Round 13, Paul Pezos' men faced a test against a confident Para Hills Knights, and a tight first half saw the two teams enter the break level.

In the second half, Yared Abetew, as he did in the reverse fixture in Round 2, found a goal with a well-placed back-post volley from a corner in the 65th minute. City held the lead to rise to 16 points, only two points behind Para Hills, who occupy sixth on the ladder.

Inexperienced Young Reds produce an all-time comeback

The Modbury Jets hosted Adelaide United in Round 13, and unlike last year's Grand Final, the Young Reds could not use their A-League-signed players, who had embarked on their mandatory breaks. Despite the number of promising players on the field, the Young Reds went down early when Francesco Schimizzi took advantage of a kind deflection to round the goalkeeper and open the scoring.

The Jets struck late in the half, twice with Hamish McCabe and Jesse Francesca, and continued piling on the misery when McCabe recorded his brace after half-time.

Amlani Tatu pulled a goal back in the 68th minute for the Young Reds. Still, with Airton Andrioli making a triple change right after the goal, introducing Feyzo Kasumovic, Patrick McGregor, and Luka Blazevic, it seemed he was still resigned to a defeat. When McGregor found his side's second goal with 19 minutes to go, the young group found some belief.

A long-range Ryan White goal cut Modbury's lead to a single goal before a clumsy Jokew Wuol challenge in the box sent the Young Reds to the penalty spot in the 86th minute. White was forced to retake his penalty after the referee noticed encroachment from the visitors, but the young midfielder did not disappoint, sealing his side's four-goal comeback in just 24 minutes.




South torched by the Comets again

South Adelaide's first home game of the season ended in disaster, with the Adelaide Comets storming to a 5-0 win at the O'Sullivan Beach Sports & Community Centre. Round 13 saw the two teams clash at ServiceFM Stadium, and Aladin Irabona opened the scoring for the Comets just before the half-hour mark. Irabona continued to torture the Panthers, assisting Jayden LoBasso with an intelligent cutback before making it three with an acrobatic effort before half-time.

Irabona continued in his role as South's chief tormentor when he completed his hat-trick three minutes after the restart. Jonathon Rideout took advantage of a weak header back to Dan Vaughan to pull one back for his side, but the game was already done by that stage.

Caden Yates got his footing wrong when trying to clear a cross shortly after the hour mark to turn the ball into his own net for the Comets' fifth. The scoring was rounded off by Roberto Fernandez Garrido, who cut out a Lewis Moss pass before slotting the ball past the goalkeeper.

This victory takes the Comets to the league's summit after the MetroStars and Modbury dropped points. Meanwhile, this defeat means South Adelaide are currently anchored to the bottom of the table, a massive 11 points from safety.

Free-scoring sides cancel each other out

The Adelaide Croatia Raiders and MetroStars entertained in their respective journeys to finishing top of State League One and the NPL SA in 2023. When the two sides met in Round 2, neither took a step back, with Cam Woodfin's injury-time winner giving Metro the points on the day.

The reverse fixture at the Croatian Sports Centre promised goals, and in the first half, the MetroStars seemed like the side to find them. A strong opening 45 minutes saw Hamish Gow go the closest, seeing his free-kick cannon off the crossbar before the ball was cleared on the goal line. The two teams entered half-time level despite the visitors' territorial dominance.

After the break, the roles reversed, with Croatia applying the pressure and Metro working overtime to protect their area. In the final 10 minutes of the match, both sides threw everything at each other, but the deadlock remained.

Both sides would have been disappointed, dropping too many points for their liking in the past month.

Campbelltown pegged back by familiar foes

In his second week as Croydon FC's head coach, Iain Fyfe returned to Newton to take on Campbelltown City. After winning his first game in the Polonia hot seat, Fyfe was keen for the positive start to continue with a win over the club he won championships with as a player and coach.

The visitors showed positive signs early, taming Campbelltown's attacking talent heading into half-time. But as they often do, the Red Devils found a way. A powerful Marc Marino cross ended up as a shot on target, putting off young goalkeeper Tumbika Kalua to open the scoring for the hosts.

Michael Matricciani's side could not extend their lead, and Andre Carle was able to round Alex Woodlands in goal before passing the ball to ex-Campbelltown player Santana Bartkowski, who converted on the goal line to frustrate the Red Devils on their home turf.

Front Page Football: Santana Bartkowski Croydon FC Campbelltown City NPL SA 2024

Santana Bartkowski (left) celebrates scoring a goal against his former club. (Image: Ken Carter)


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