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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2024: The winners and losers from Round 15

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 15.

Front Page Football Jesse Francesca NPL SA 2024

Modbury Jets captain Jesse Francesca celebrates his goal against the MetroStars. (Image: Pagonis Photography)


Modbury hold ground in top-of-the-table clash

The top-of-the-table clash between the Modbury Jets and MetroStars did not go the home side's way early. Maurice Natale's side went down to a Hamish Gow goal two minutes into the game, and when they thought they had a way back after Ren Nagamatsu was sent off, their player Matt Mullen was given his marching orders only minutes later.

MetroStars had opportunities to double their lead but they entered half-time only a goal ahead. The Jets entered the second half with two changes and looked renewed in their pursuit of an equaliser.

Francesco Schimizzi thought he found a goal against his former side before he was flagged for offside. With 22 minutes to go, Modbury's hero was their captain Jesse Francesca, who took an ambitious shot from around 40 yards out that curled away from the goalkeeper before hitting the back of the net via the post.

This draw and other results meant that Modbury remained at the summit of the NPL SA after Round 15.

Bressan continues City's streak

In Round 4, Adelaide City lost to FK Beograd at home for the first time in a decade. Paul Pezos' rejuvenated side visited Frank Mitchell Park in Round 15 on a five-game unbeaten run with multiple former Beograd players and a point to prove.

The hosts made a positive start to the match, but City held strong despite not creating many opportunities. Five minutes before half-time, Nicholas Bucco headed back a hopeful City cross to Daniel Bressan, who caught the ball sweetly with a volley that gave his side the lead heading into the break.

City's growing grit was evident in the second half, where they held onto another win, extending their unbeaten streak to six games, five of them wins.

Bressan's form has been a highlight of this period, with the midfielder scoring his sixth goal in six games, coinciding with City's ascend up the ladder.

Kalua and Diamantis halt another stunning Reds comeback

A topsy-turvy fortnight saw a depleted Adelaide United side successfully chase down a four-goal lead against the Modbury Jets before surrendering the same margin against the Para Hills Knights. Taking on Croydon FC in Round 15, an Andre Carle double and an Adam Martinello header meant the Young Reds entered half-time in yet another extreme situation.

Despite the unflattering margin, Airton Andrioli's side entered the break looking refreshed, with Henry Lynch looking impressive in an unfamiliar midfield slot. Within 20 minutes, the Young Reds had pulled the margin back to one thanks to goals from Ryan White and Joey Garrucio.

A foul by Nick Bailey on Garrucio in the box allowed White an opportunity to equalise from the spot. Teenage goalkeeper Tumbika Kalua stood his ground, though, continuing to impress as Croydon's first choice between the sticks, saving the penalty. Ten minutes later, Jaiden Diamantis made the most of the space he was allowed and rocketed in a shot from a tight angle off the crossbar and into the back of the net to extend Croydon's lead.

Mohamed Hassan scored his first senior NPL goal in injury time to reduce the margin again, but Kalua and Dimanatis' brilliance was enough for Iain Fyfe's men to get back to winning ways.




Comets miss a chance to go top

The Adelaide Comets entered Round 15 after disappointingly missing out on qualifying for the Federation Cup Final after being unable to capitalise on a positive first half. The disappointment continued early on against the Para Hills Knights when Lansana Smith released Harrison Conant, who was able to use his pace to leave the defenders trailing and finish past Julian Torresan.

The Comets did not respond until the 76th minute when a similar situation to the first goal saw substitute Lukas Ikonomopoulos release Jayden LoBasso, who had his shot saved by Yanni Delangas before Augustus Williams was able to tap into an empty net.

Instead of the Comets taking advantage of the momentum swing, it was an unlikely hero from the Knights who re-established their lead. Kairo Felix received the ball wide in his advanced fullback position before beating multiple players and finishing exquisitely into the roof of the net.

In the final minute of regulation time, Adam Le Cornu delivered the ball into the area from a deep free-kick. Stelios Zacharakis went for the spectacular, but his effort was intercepted by teammate LoBasso, who was able to level the match once again.

The Comets will be happy to claim a point after falling behind twice, but after the two sides above them cancelled each other out the night before, this result is a missed opportunity for the third-placed side.

Olympic fightback is too little too late

Adelaide Olympic's 2024 Jekyll and Hyde nature continues to raise questions about their season. Awful losses have been backed up by impressive wins, and a disappointing regular season has been accompanied by a Federation Cup run that reached the Semi-Final stage.

Thus, an impressive win over the Adelaide Croatia Raiders in Round 14 was followed by Kristi Vangjeli's side finding themselves three goals down to Campbelltown City at half-time in Round 15. Strikes by Yohei Matsumoto and Marc Marino bookended an Alex Mullen goal of the week contender to give Michael Matricciani's side an imposing lead at the break, days after they qualified for the Federation Cup Final.

Olympic found themselves chasing the game and got on the scoreboard when a Daniel Kikianis ball was met by the advancing James Polli, who poked the ball past Alex Woodlands in goal. Unfortunately, the visitors could not find a timely second.

A Polli cross did later find Tzoi Tsarkani, who reduced Campbelltown's lead to one, but the three-goal lead the visitors allowed the Red Devils proved to be insurmountable.

Croatia fall to disappointing home loss

After a disappointing loss against the struggling Adelaide Olympic the previous week, the Adelaide Croatia Raiders had an opportunity to get back to winning ways against the other side in the relegation zone, South Adelaide. The hosts got just the start they needed when Oliver Trimboli's finish opened the scoring in the fifth minute.

Despite finding themselves a long way from safety and behind away from home, the Panthers have not given up hope, and Harry Thannhauser was able to find an equaliser just 10 minutes later. An Alex Rideout free-kick beat Vincent Barbaro in goals to give Anthony Rideout's side an unexpected lead heading into half-time.

Croatia fought for an equaliser after the break, but Jonathon Rideout combined with Doni Pollock, who placed his shot in Barbaro's bottom corner to extend the Panthers' lead.

Despite the loss, the Raiders are still on the fringe of the top six, with improved performances needed to retain that spot against the chasing pack.


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