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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2024: The winners and losers from Round 3

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 3.

Front Page Football: Nicholas Graves Campbelltown City NPL SA 2024

Nicholas Graves (right) scored his first senior Campbelltown City goal in acrobatic fashion. (Image: Ken Carter)


Winners


Comets' backline wins games at both ends of the pitch


While the Adelaide Comets' early season success has seen them rediscover their attacking flare, it has been built on the back of their stingy defence. The Comets entered Round 3 without their net being breached by Adelaide Olympic or South Adelaide. Regardless, the free-scoring Adelaide City was a vastly different proposition.


Nathan Andijanto and Jayden LoBasso worked hard to restrict City wingers Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio and Peter Akot, limiting the service the visitors had from wide areas. Nathan Dimou continued his positive start to the season in the heart of defence, seamlessly replacing the departed Tom Giannakopoulos. The defender even opened the scoring by heading home an Anthony Mavrolambados free kick at the back post.


The Comets held onto that lead, going 270 minutes without conceding a goal, with Adam Le Cornu and goalkeeper Dan Vaughn also making crucial interventions in the process.

The NPL SA will resume after the next Cup Round concludes, where yet another potent side will test the Comets in the Para Hills Knights.


Oan's Olympic Olimpico shocks Raiders


Season 2024 started poorly for Adelaide Olympic and new manager Kristi Vangjeli. After losing in the opening round to the Adelaide Comets, Olympic was put to the sword at home by an FK Beograd side with two starting players missing through suspension.


Round 3 saw Olympic visit the recently promoted Adelaide Croatia Raiders, a challenging game considering Vlado Blazeka's side scored seven goals in their first two games back in the NPL. Olympic needed to avoid a shootout at any cost, and they succeeded heading towards halftime, with the game locked in a scoreless stalemate.


Vangjeli's side got a fortunate break when, deep in first-half injury time, Nathan Oan, on his senior debut for Olympic, executed a corner which ended up in the back of the net, giving his side a shock lead.


Olympic managed to maintain that lead to claim an impressive away victory, with Oan being able to claim not just an Olimpico on his starting senior debut, but also the match winner.

Graves' maiden senior goal helps Campbelltown break Metro hoodoo


Despite being one of the standard-setters of the NPL SA, Campbelltown City has been unable to defeat rivals MetroStars across the past few seasons. The encounters may be competitive on the pitch but the results have been one-sided; the Red Devils entered their Round 3 clash having not beaten Metro since the 2021 season.


Campbelltown needed a morale boost, entering Round 3 after a defeat to Croydon, and they got just that when captain Alex Mullen latched onto a long ball before volleying past Cody Oestreich to open the scoring. The Red Devils took a deserved lead into the halftime break.


With a one goal lead, the possibility of the MetroStars grabbing a goal to extend Campbelltown's winless run against them was always possible, but second half substitute Nicholas Graves had other ideas.


Graves thought he secured his first senior goal in Round 1 before it was ruled as an Adelaide United own goal. However, an acrobatic effort to make it two for Campbelltown against Metro left no doubt, as the Red Devils returned to winning ways, breaking a long-standing hoodoo in the process.
 

READ MORE NPL SA COVERAGE ON FPF


Losers


Another lapse costs Croydon


In Round 1, Croydon's second half against Adelaide Croatia Raiders saw them start their season with a loss. Coming into Round 3 after a win, Travis Dodd's side once again suffered from the consequences of going missing in part of the match.

This time, Croydon was lackadaisical to begin the match. Matt Mullen punished his opponents after being left unmarked during a third-minute corner to open the scoring for the Modbury Jets, Croydon's Round 3 opponent. Just minutes later, former A-League Men winger Jordan O'Doherty put the finishing touches on a well-worked team goal to make it two goals for Modbury within the opening 10 minutes.


Modbury was then awarded a penalty in the 30th minute. But Croydon got a reprieve when Matthew Woithe saved Hamish McCabe's effort, before Andre Carle scored for a third consecutive week to bring the visitors closer heading into the break. A challenging first half meant Croydon had a minimal margin for error after the break, which they could not avoid. Francesco Schimizzi eventually made it three, rendering an injury time Carle goal a consolation.


A late winner sees Adelaide United remain on the canvas


The early days of the 2024 season have not gone the way of the defending champions, Adelaide United. The Young Reds have stayed true to their moniker and have gotten even younger due to the promotion of multiple stars to the A-League Men squad. As a result, the learning curve has been evident, with two tough losses to begin the season.


Taking on the Para Hills Knights, the difficulties continued when a well-placed Diego Oliveira shot beat Oscar Page to open the scoring after 10 minutes. Musa Toure returned from injury via the NPL to draw his team level heading into the break.


The Young Reds had their chances to go ahead, but as the match wore on, the influence of Airton Andrioli's side on proceedings started to wear off. To make matters worse, Omid Musawi was able to record an injury time winner for his recently promoted side to leave Adelaide United without a point from their first three matches of the new season.

Beograd allow the floodgates to open


FK Beograd welcomed South Adelaide, a side that conceded heavily without scoring across the first two rounds, to Frank Mitchell Park in Round 3. Jonathon Rideout was back from injury earlier than expected for the Panthers. Ironically, the underdogs opened the scoring through an audacious finish from ex-Beograd forward Doni Pollock.


The shock lead was doubled on the cusp of halftime after Pollock converted a penalty that Rideout won. In the second half, Beograd rediscovered their spirit to level the game through quickfire goals by new signings Michael Jakobsen and Seb Goode.


When Jonathon Rideout is on the pitch, South Adelaide can always score, and the forward beat Beograd's offside trap to confidently put his side back ahead. The home side had allowed the Panthers to open the floodgates. The Frank Mitchell Park pitch closely followed, with the sprinklers interrupting proceedings before the visitors eventually secured a vital win away from home, their first of the season.

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