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  • Writer's pictureAntonis Pagonis

NPL SA 2024: The winners and losers from Round 4

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 4.

Front Page Football: Massimo Falco FK Beograd NPL SA

Massimo Falco celebrates FK Beograd's drought-breaking away win against Adelaide City. (Image: Pagonis Photography)


Winners


Raiders ride out the storm to win a shootout


It is early days in their first season back in the NPL, and the Adelaide Croatia Raiders are already developing a reputation for being involved in high-scoring games. Vlado Blazeka's side entered the break level against South Adelaide, with Stefan Matteo's opener cancelled out by Daniel Evans, indicating that the game pattern was likely to continue.


A cracking Jonathon Rideout finish gave the Panthers the lead after halftime, and the hosts threatened to extend it two minutes later when a second Rideout goal was rubbed off due to a contentious offside decision. Having survived a second, potentially fatal blow, Adelaide Croatia earned a corner from their next attack and managed to equalise despite Lewis Moss seemingly being obstructed in the Panthers' goal.


Matteo then turned provider as Oliver Trimboli gave Raiders the lead, before Rideout scored his second to bring South Adelaide level once again. A Rhys Thomson header eventually earned the away side the three points. Moss was sent off in the celebrations to cap off a seven-goal emotional rollercoaster to kick off the round on Friday night.

A-League quality sees Young Reds claim their first win

As the A-League Men paused for a week due to the international break, Adelaide United provided their professional players struggling for minutes a chance to play in the NPL against Croydon FC. As a result, Ethan Cox, Jonny Yull, Luke Duzel, Musa Toure, Yaya Dukuly, and Panashe Madanha featured in the Young Reds' starting lineup alongside Jay Barnett, who played his first game in a year after a long-term injury.


Throughout the game, Cox's presence in goal was a difference-maker for the Young Reds. Despite pulling off a string of key saves, the goalkeeper could do nothing to stop a perfectly placed Meiya Hisamoto free kick that cancelled out Yull's opener. A Musa Toure double in the second half bookended Andre Carle's initial equaliser to ensure Airton Andrioli's side maintained the ascendency heading towards the match's conclusion.


Yaya Dukuly sealed the three points, with the ball placed on the goal-line for him on the back of a mazy Panashe Madanha run, as the Young Reds ran out 4-2 winners.


With the A-League Men back this weekend, Adelaide United's squad will look vastly different against the MetroStars. Regardless, they will enter Round 5 with their first win and some much-needed confidence under their belts.

Garrido continues to make his mark in South Australia


During the off-season, the Adelaide Comets explored ways to add attacking flair to their already-existing defensive steel. The impressive signing of Aladin Irabona made headlines because of his accomplishments in South Australia. Roberto Fernandez Garrido, who joined the Comets from Tasmanian side Devonport City, had an equally impressive resume.


Fernandez Garrido began life in Adelaide positively, scoring in his first league game against Adelaide Olympic before recording a brace the following week at the expense of South Adelaide. The striker entered Round 4 off the back of another two goals in the Federation Cup against Tea Tree Gully.


Against the Para Hills Knights, Fernandez Garrido displayed his clinical nature by expertly burying an Athan Karkafiris cross before cooly converting a penalty to ensure the Comets remained perfect after four games.


It is no surprise that George Tsonis' side has started 2024 in such a strong fashion, with their traditionally miserly defence being fully rewarded by a striker who, at the time of writing, boasts more goals scored than games played.
 

READ MORE LOCAL FOOTBALL COVERAGE ON FPF


Losers


Metro can't finish off an undermanned Modbury


In Round 4, 2023's premiers took on the Modbury Jets for the first time since being eliminated by them in last year's semi-final. The MetroStars were keen to exact revenge. The hosts started the match strongly and landed the first blow in bizarre fashion.


Jets defender Daniel Ditroia was sent off for a handball on the goal-line after an indirect Metro free kick in the box. Hamish Gow converted the forthcoming penalty, giving the hosts the lead heading into halftime. The frustration was evident on the Modbury bench after head coach Maurice Natale was booked for voicing his frustrations with the decision that left his side with ten men.


Heading into the second half, it seemed like Danny Graystone's side was on their way to victory, but a Modbury penalty near the hour mark halted that possibility in its tracks. Despite playing the last half an hour with an extra player, the MetroStars could not find a second goal. Modbury left T.K. Shutter Reserve happy with their defensive effort after going a goal and a man down late in the first half.

A familiar face breaks a decade-long drought


Adelaide City's rebuilt squad featured three faces from FK Beograd: Gideon Arok, Yared Abetew, and Peter Akot. The three players have made a positive start to life in black and white, scoring in the early weeks of the season, and they entered their Round 4 clash against their former side full of confidence.


A tight encounter presented chances for Adelaide City late in the second half. But Paul Pezos' men could not take advantage. Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio and Nicholas Francese notably put key opportunities wide of Josh Kavenagh's post as the deadlock remained.


While the trio that defected from Beograd to City was the main focus coming into the game, Jason Konstandopoulos, who went in the opposite direction, made all the headlines. The Adelaide City defence was unable to deal with a Beograd clearance, which allowed Konstandopoulos to face Dakota Ochsenham one-on-one. He finished confidently past his ex-teammate to open the scoring.


City could find no response to the Konstandopoulos goal and astonishingly fell to their first home loss to FK Beograd in a decade at the hands of their former player. Beograd's last win at Adelaide City Park, in 2014, was that long ago that current A-League Men players Nikola Mileusnic and Lachlan Barr featured for the visitors on the day.

Olympic cruelly punished for taking their time against Campbelltown


After having their colours lowered to a six-goal loss in their last meeting with Campbelltown City at Apex Football Stadium, Adelaide Olympic entered their first clash with the Red Devils in 2024 with the goal of remaining solid defensively against their fancied opponents. Olympic looked organised and limited the chances Campbelltown created from open play at the beginning of their Round 4 meeting.


The Red Devils are dangerous because they are as threatening from set pieces as they are from open play, a lesson Olympic learned ten minutes into the game. A Shogo Yoshikawa corner found Daniel Mullen, who opened the scoring to prove that point.

Olympic may have gone down but Kristi Vangjeli's side continued hassling Campbelltown without creating much from their own attacks.


As the clock ticked down, Olympic's urgency rose. In injury time, stand-in captain Marco Torriani looked like he had found the back of the net from a set piece before the linesman raised his flag, indicating the defender was offside. A minute later, Marc Marino took advantage of the time and space allowed to him on the edge of the box to kill the match off, punishing Olympic's lack of creation and momentary lack of concentration in the blink of an eye.


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