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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2024: The winners and losers from Round 17

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 17.

Front Page Football Campbelltown City Adelaide City NPL SA 2024

Campbelltown City came back late to claim a point at home against Adelaide City. (Image: Ken Carter)


Winners


Beograd hold their nerve in an important six-pointer


FK Beograd left Round 16 disappointed to have dropped points against the Adelaide Comets despite leading the majority of the match. Adrian D'Aloia's side entered Round 17 winless in three games and desperate for a win against the Para Hills Knights, a side a point ahead of them on the ladder.


Beograd took the lead in the 13th minute when new signing Panagiotis Manidakis picked out Antoni Trimboli with a corner before Massimo Falco doubled the advantage 20 minutes later with a smashing long-range effort.


A Damian Ljujic own goal gave the Knights some hope, but in the 85th minute, Beograd substitute Craig Shearer sealed the match for his side.


FK Beograd's climb of three positions and entry into the top six after one victory indicates just how tight the 2024 NPL SA season is.

Gow brilliance sends Metro top


Adorning their indigenous-inspired tops, Croydon FC and the MetroStars took the field needing a win to secure their positions on opposing ends of the top six. A fantastic Michael Cittadini finish ensured MetroStars entered half-time not only ahead on the scoreboard, but on the summit of the NPL SA after the Modbury Jets dropped points earlier in the day.


That equation was thrown on its head when Eduardo Castaneda was astonishingly sent off in the 47th minute due to a second yellow card for kicking the ball away. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Metro doubled their lead four minutes later when a defence-splitting Hamish Gow pass allowed Cam Woodfin to continue his scoring streak from midfield.


A clumsy challenge on Andre Carle in the box allowed the forward to step up and provide his side an important goal from the penalty spot in the 61st minute. The hosts then drew level in a controversial manner. MetroStars thought they found their third before the assistant flagged for offside, and a rapid Croydon restart saw captain Luke Klimek find Cody Oestreich's bottom corner.


Gow was not to be denied, though, and in the 85th minute, the midfielder did what he does so often from a dead ball and managed to break Croydon hearts by beating Tumbika Kalua to his bottom corner.


MetroStars did not do it the easy way, but this win means they replace Modbury at the top of the table, while this loss for Croydon sees them exit the top six after Beograd's victory.

The MetroStars celebrate one of their three goals against Croydon on Saturday night. (Image: Brock Pearson)


Campbelltown eventually spring back to life


It is not often that you can say Campbelltown City looks second best in a match at Newton, but that was the case during the first half of Adelaide City's visit to Steve Woodcock Sports Centre on Friday night. It was clear that Paul Pezos' side showed up to extend their winning streak, and they took the lead into half-time when Daniel Bressan caught out former teammate Alex Woodlands to continue his impressive scoring streak.


Minutes after the restart, an astounding Nicholas Bucco long-range strike brought Adelaide City fans to their feet after it looped over Woodlands to double the visitors' lead. It seemed like City was cruising to a win before Yohei Matsumoto combined with Alex Mullen on the edge of the box and placed a shot into Dakota Ochsenham's top corner to give Campbelltown some belief.


With the wind in their sails, the Red Devils furiously searched for an equaliser, and it did not take long before Gideon Arok haphazardly turned a Josh Mori cross into his own net.


Campbelltown City would not have been pleased with their overall performance, but their ability to turn the match on its head in a matter of minutes is definitely a positive sign heading into the Federation Cup Final, where silverware can be decided in moments.
 

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Losers


League leaders drop points to the cellar dwellers


Modbury's match against South Adelaide started as the positions of the two respective sides suggested it would, with the league-leading Jets taking an early lead against the 12th-placed Panthers thanks to a Francesco Schimizzi goal. In his 100th game, Tyreece Conway brought the Panthers level, before Alex Rideout latched onto a Lewis Moss pass with a perfect first touch that put him in position to give South Adelaide the lead heading into half-time.


The second half saw the league leaders start with intent. Schimizzi tapped home after Giuseppe Macheda's effort cannoned off the post, and then Hamish McCabe found the top corner to restore Modbury's lead. The task got challenging for the Jets when goalkeeper Kuach Kuach got sent off for a handball outside the box in the 63rd minute, but 12 minutes later, the numbers were evened when Dan Evans was also sent off for a second bookable offence.


An action-packed game was close to ending, but Jonathan Rideout had to have his say, with his lunging effort finding the top corner to give South Adelaide a hard-fought point away from home. The draw cost the Jets, who dropped to second after MetroStars won later that night.


While South Adelaide are nine points away from safety, their recent performances suggest there has been a vast improvement, which must continue if they are to maintain their NPL status.

Young Reds and Olympic surrender winning positions


Entering this matchup, Adelaide United sat outside the relegation zone but was the closest side to 11th-placed Adelaide Olympic. Kristi Vangjeli's Olympic, with an array of new signings, faced a must-win game against a Young Reds side missing their A-League Men stars for another week.


Despite the high stakes, Olympic conceded first when Harry Crawford was allowed too much time and space on the edge of the box, capitalising by finding the bottom corner with his weaker left foot. Be it a physical disadvantage or tactical naivety, a young team's Achilles heel is always defending set pieces, and Olympic took advantage of that when Marco Torriani levelled proceedings heading into half-time.


Torriani was able to give his side the lead in a similar situation on the other side of the break, but with just over 10 minutes to go, Joey Garrucio pegged a goal back for the Young Reds.


Despite the momentum, Adelaide United could not find a third in a match dominated by the outstanding performances of Oscar Page and Cosmo Groff in goals, who kept their respective sides in the game in crucial moments.

While a draw does not benefit either team, both sides can take positives from it moving forward.

Front Page Football Adelaide United Adelaide Olympic NPL SA 2024

Adelaide United and Adelaide Olympic played out an entertaining draw in Round 17. (Image: Pagonis Photography)


Comets draw yet again


While the Adelaide Comets are pushing for a spot in the top two, and even briefly occupied the top spot, internally, they would be the first to admit they have left points on the table in 2024. While Comets entered Round 17 winless in four league games, their opponents, the Adelaide Croatia Raiders, faced five games without a win and were desperate to snap the streak.


Raiders took the lead heading into half-time thanks to Katsuyoshi Kimishima's very well-taken goal, which put the finishing touch on a superb team move. After the break, an intelligent Roberto Fernandez Garrido play set up Jayden LoBasso, whose shot found the top corner to bring the Comets level.


Fernandez Garrido made his own luck 15 minutes later, tapping home his rebounded shot off the post to put his side ahead. As has been the case too often for George Tsonis' side, though, a lapse of concentration allowed their opponents back in the game, with Bradley Corbo being the unlikely goalscorer of the equaliser.


The two sides could not be split on Saturday afternoon, with the Comets matching their total number of wins - seven - with draws. Despite that, they still sit in third and are only five points off the competition's summit.


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