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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2024: The winners and losers from Round 8

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 8.

Front Page Football: Jared Clark FK Beograd NPL SA 2024

Beograd's Jared Clark celebrates an injury time equaliser against Campbelltown City. (Image: Pagonis Photography)


Winners


Clark rescues a point for Beograd


Round 8 kicked off at Frank Mitchell Park, where FK Beograd hosted Campbelltown City in a standalone NPL match on ANZAC Day. Both teams entered the encounter with disappointing losses, and after the Last Post Ceremony, which was well-observed by the 1,000-strong crowd, the two sides were ready to return to winning ways.


After neither side broke the deadlock heading into half-time, 400-gamer Joel Allwright split the Beograd backline with a pass to Marc Marino, who opened the scoring in the 56th minute for Campbelltown. Within 15 minutes, the subdued home fans were on their feet celebrating Froribert Niyonkuru's long-range equaliser.


Josh Barresi restored Campbelltown's lead in the 77th minute, and the Red Devils took that scoreline into injury time, seemingly having done enough to win a challenging away game without the suspended Josh Mori and Alessio Melisi.


The home side had other ideas, though. Former Campbelltown player Antoni Trimboli's run down the left was not stopped by his ex-teammates, and his cross picked out the advancing Jared Clark, who found the equaliser in the dying stages of the match to give the hosts a deserved point on a fantastic night of South Australian football.

Tatu announces himself to senior football


The hour mark of Adelaide City's clash with Adelaide United saw the two sides even. Airton Andrioli's side arguably had the better of the first half and opened the scoring through Austin Ayoubi. After equalising through Matt Dawber with the last attack of the opening period, Paul Pezos' men took that momentum into the second half and started the brightest of the two sides.


That is when Andrioli made the game's first substitution, summoning 16-year-old Amlani Tatu, who replaced Jay Barnett. The young winger showed he was raring to go, twice driving past his marker and into the penalty box within a minute of being brought on.


In the 81st minute, the youngster broke the stalemate with a header. An Ayoubi run and cross allowed him to meet the ball and beat Dakota Ochsenham in goal. Just four minutes later, after getting on the end of a Musa Toure through ball, Tatu again found the back of the net when his shot deflected in for a goal.


Patrick Caraccia's late penalty made things interesting against a nervous Young Reds side. Regardless, Tatu's cameo off the bench was enough for Adelaide United to claim a rare win against an out-of-form Adelaide City side.

Modbury go top after sharing the points with Comets


Unlike previous NPL SA seasons, the 2024 campaign has yet to give us a clear frontrunner, with a pack of teams competing for the top spot at the moment. Two of them met on Saturday, with the Adelaide Comets, sitting third on 14 points, taking on the Modbury Jets, a side that entered the round second on the table with only goal difference separating them from first.


An even opening 20 minutes between two of the competition's standout sides was disrupted by a thunderous Dion Kirk effort that gave the Jets the lead. Despite being forced into a first half substitution due to an injury to Jordan O'Doherty, Maurice Natale's side took their lead into half-time.


Roberto Fernandez Garrido found Anthony Mavrolambados in the box two minutes after the restart. The forward's clever flick caught out the Modbury defence and gave Aladin Irabona a chance to bring the Comets level, which he did. Despite having the ball cleared off the line, and a goal ruled out for offside, George Tsonis' side had to settle for a point.


Although Modbury's second half performance may have been below their usual standard, their ability to hold onto the draw, combined with the MetroStars' loss, sent Maurice Natale's side clear at the league's summit.


The Jets are going from strength to strength in their second year in the NPL after their first culminated with a shock Grand Final appearance.
 

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Losers


Metro stumble against Olympic


An hour after Vipers FC upset Fulham United at APEX Football Stadium in State League One action, the NPL SA was about to have its own upset at the same venue. Adelaide Olympic hosted the league-leading MetroStars, and right from the outset Kristi Vangjeli's side showed clear intent to make life hard for their fancied opponents.


Mamadi Kamara opened the scoring for the hosts before Christian Sotira restored parity in the 41st minute. It seemed like the two teams would go into the break level, but in the very next attack after the equaliser, Brian Habonimana ensured Olympic took their surprising lead into half-time.


A Binyam Kebede double in the second half, which bookended a Christian D'Angelo red card, sent shockwaves around the league as Olympic led 4-1.


A COVID-19 bout that spread through members of the MetroStars squad during the week would not have helped matters for Danny Graystone's side, yet Olympic was by far the better side on the night.

Two injury time goals by the shocked visitors only served as consolation as Adelaide Olympic climbed out of the relegation zone with a performance that Vangjeli will want to see his side replicate in the coming weeks.

Front Page Football: Binyam Kebede Adelaide Olympic NPL SA 2024

Olympic's Binyam Kebede celebrates his second goal against MetroStars in Round 8. (Image: Pagonis Photography)


Adelaide Croatia left frustrated


The Adelaide Croatia Raiders entered Round 8 after an emotional win against their old rivals FK Beograd. Those sorts of results are fantastic for the club at the moment, but the real challenge always lies in backing them up. On the other hand, the Para Hills Knights came to the Croatian Sports Centre off the back of a home humiliation to the MetroStars, eager to prove a point.


Theo Tsiounis' side caught the hosts off guard with their pressing, and they got their reward when Afghan international Omid Musawi opened the scoring. Raiders eventually settled into the game, and Paul Radice found the back of the net for a second consecutive game to bring the two sides level heading into half-time.


Frustrated after a string of missed chances the previous week, Stefan Matteo brought the home crowd to their feet when he scored to ensure Croatia took the lead. But they got complacent despite turning the match on its head, and Musawi punished them once more in the 87th minute.


Vlado Blazeka's side pushed for a winner through an intense series of injury time corners. Despite multiple dangerous deliveries, the Knights frustrated the Raiders away from home and escaped with a point.

Front Page Football: Adelaide Croatia Raiders Para Hills Knights NPL SA 2024

The Adelaide Croatia Raiders and Para Hills played out a hard-fought draw in Round 8. (Image: Pagonis Photography)


South and Croydon cancel each other out


South Adelaide and Croydon would be frustrated after their respective starts to the season. The Panthers have been knocked out of the Federation Cup and, despite a string of additions over the off-season, find themselves in the relegation zone. Meanwhile, despite still being in the Cup, Croydon's talented squad has yet to gel together and has won only two league games.


It was one of the Panthers' new signings that did all the damage against Travis Dodd's side. Tyreece Conway opened the scoring with a fantastic finish five minutes into the match before astonishingly doubling the lead a minute later when the Croydon defence again allowed the forward space. Thankfully for the visitors, Santana Bartkowski stemmed the bleeding after tapping an Andre Carle cross into an empty net 10 minutes later.


The score was level at the half-hour mark when Bartkowski finished Adam Martinello's header from a set-piece on the goal line. The last attack of the half saw Croydon's Tom Visser win a penalty, and Lewis Moss saved Carle's effort to keep the game tied heading into the break.


A first half that exposed both sides' strengths and flaws was followed by a second half in which neither team could find the back of the net again. The points were shared but the result does not benefit either side, as they sit 12th and 9th, respectively.

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