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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2024: The winners and losers from Round 6

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 6.

Front Page Football: Josh Mori Campbelltown City NPL SA 2024

Campbelltown City striker Josh Mori helped condemn Adelaide City to a fourth consecutive defeat. (Image: Ken Carter)


Nagamatsu's clinical hat-trick

Regardless of a team's quality, losing two star players is bound to create some teething issues. An example of that was evident for the MetroStars in their Round 4 clash against the Modbury Jets, who lost both James Temelkovski and Austin Ayoubi during the off-season.

A frustrating draw saw Metro unable to fully capitalise on their numerical advantage after Modbury fell to 10 men. Still, Danny Graystone's side returned to form the following week, hitting Adelaide United with four goals. Temelkovski's in-house replacement, Ren Nagamatsu, scored twice against the Young Reds, but in Round 6 he stepped up the ante again.

Nagamatsu scored his side's opening goal against Croydon, and despite Travis Dodd's side pushing for an equaliser, the MetroStars found a second through Scott Nagel. Nagamatsu's clinical edge in the second half contrasted with Croydon's wastefulness in front of goal. The forward capitalised on an error from goalkeeper Matthew Woithe to record his brace before showing a different side of his game, combining speed and technical quality to round off a well-taken hat-trick.

An excellent performance saw Nagamatsu score his seventh goal in six league games, with the Japanese striker repaying Danny Graystone's trust in him with one of the club's international spots. Nagamatsu's hat-trick helped the MetroStars gain three points over Croydon, and he will be important again when the two sides face off this weekend in the Federation Cup.

Schimizzi continues to impress as a starter

After Stefan Matteo exited the Modbury Jets in the off-season, the 2023 Grand Finalists sought a focal point in their attack to complement the McCabe brothers. Maurice Natale took a punt on Francesco Schimizzi, a young forward who had yet to cement a spot as a consistent senior team starter.

Schimizzi has been a threat from the start of the 2024 campaign. On the season's opening night, he scored as his side fell to the Para Hills Knights. Entering their Round 6 clash against South Adelaide, the young striker had a respectable three goals across his first five league games and was probably unlucky not to have more. Against the Panthers, he was sure to make the most of his chances.

A set-piece routine allowed Schimizzi to control the ball inside the box and finish comfortably past Lewis Moss as Modbury entered the break ahead. The striker showed his strength in the second half after having his intelligent run picked up to doubled Modbury's lead. Hamish McCabe's brilliance quickly made it three for the Jets, and it was Schimizzi's pass to him in an advanced area that helped set up the goal. Massimo Sergi put the cherry on top of an impressive away win.

Modbury's attacking arsenal has undoubtedly been strengthened in 2024, as Francesco Schimizzi is developing his game weekly while consistently finding the back of the net.

Radice's hat-trick shoots down the Comets

Coming into their first season back in the NPL SA, Adelaide Croatia Raiders manager Vlado Blazeka was clear on his aim to not only have a successful side but one that entertains the fans. Early in the 2024 season, they have delivered in both areas.

Against the Adelaide Comets, Paul Radice opened the scoring after getting on the end of a Yuto Ikeda cross. However, the lead was short-lived when Adam Le Cornu equalised from a corner just three minutes later. Despite both sides creating chances, halftime found the two teams level before the script repeated around the hour mark when the Comets could not clear their lines. This defensive mishap allowed Calum Campbell to find Paul Radice, who recorded his brace with an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area.

Anthony Mavrolambados caught the Croatia defence ball-watching in the 75th minute to equalise and set up a grandstand finish. Just five minutes later, Katsuyoshi Kimishima wrong-footed his marker on Croatia's left-hand side before delivering the ball on a silver platter for Radice, who handed his side the lead for the third time. Confusion reigned supreme minutes later when Jayden Lo Basso saw an equaliser disallowed from a corner.

The Comets could not match Radice's hat-trick, which handed Adelaide Croatia a third consecutive win as Blazeka's side continued to make themselves comfortable with life back in the NPL.



City's winless month

One of the big storylines of the NPL SA off-season was Adelaide City's aggressive moves to overhaul their squad. An influx of new players usually means some time is needed for everyone to figure out their roles and how to play together, but City got off to a flying start, winning their first two games of the season.

Adelaide City's positive league form was halted in Round 3 after Paul Pezos' side fell by a goal to the Adelaide Comets. Despite some joy in the cup the following week, City continued struggling in the league, going down to FK Beograd and the Adelaide Croatia Raiders without scoring a goal.

Against Campbelltown City, Patrick Caraccia broke the three-game scoreless streak early, tapping home an opener after goalkeeper Alex Woodlands could not clear a corner. Once again, the joy was short-lived when Josh Mori was tripped in the box, allowing Alex Mullen to equalise from the penalty spot. The teams went into halftime level, but Mori soon made it two after the restart for the visiting Red Devils. Marc Marino eventually made it three.

Adelaide City could not respond, recording a fourth consecutive loss in the NPL SA. Paul Pezos' side has a chance to find form in the Federation Cup against Adelaide Olympic before facing the Modbury Jets, the side that eliminated them from the 2023 Finals Series.

Beograd struggle with the favourites tag

FK Beograd have stood out in the past fortnight, smashing decade-long streaks of misfortune against significant sides such as Adelaide City and the Adelaide Comets. Beograd embraced the underdog tag in both encounters, but against the Para Hills Knights, the narrative was different.

The Knights visited Frank Mitchell Park after a four-goal loss against Croydon. Due to that result and their strong form, Adrian D'Aloia's Beograd side entered this encounter as the favourites, a tag that proved troublesome early on.

Just 11 minutes in Beograd were already on the back-foot after Abu Hussein scored his first league goal for Para Hills.

Beograd pushed to find an equaliser throughout the game but were deflated when Omid Musawi, recently returning from representing the Afghanistan national team, doubled the visitor's lead with a low-driven shot in the 73rd minute. Lansana Smith finally took advantage of the home side's advanced backline - as they looked for an equaliser - finishing the game with his side's third goal, providing FK Beograd with a reality check.

Olympic collapse seconds after equalising

Halfway through the second half against Adelaide United, Adelaide Olympic looked set to be on the end of yet another uninspiring defeat. Olympic had allowed the Young Reds to play their game early in the first half, and Panashe Madanha punished the opposition by finding the far top corner from a difficult angle.

Giuseppe Bovalina made it two for Adelaide United in the 66th minute before the hosts finally showed signs of life. Two minutes after the Young Reds found what seemed like the fatal blow, former Adelaide United NPL player Binyam Kebede found the back of the net for Olympic through a set-piece.

In the 81st minute, Olympic captain James Poli tapped home an Arbi Mollas cross to bring his side back from the dead. In most cases, you would see the side that just came from behind rally in search of a miraculous winner, but that was not the case at APEX Football Stadium on Saturday night.

Adelaide Olympic's overzealous approach to finding a winner left them completely exposed at the back. A technically gifted Young Reds side quickly took advantage of that, allowing Austin Ayoubi to score his first goal for Adelaide United in the NPL.

This win lifts the Young Reds to six points, as Olympic remain on only one win after six rounds.


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