The Boral Final Series produced another weekend full of highs and lows. All the drama expected from a Preliminary Round with promotions and Grand Final places on the line.
Words by Sotiris Demitriou.
Men's National Premier League
Adelaide Comets too strong at SA Athletics Stadium
Adelaide Comets created an early chance, starting with a long throw into the box by Stephan Travaglione putting the Metro defence under pressure as a clearing header fell to Nathan Andijanto. A first time strike into the ground from Andijanto took a deflection on the way through but Isaac Carmody got down low to make the save.
Andijanto was in the thick of the action and on the 31st minute mark, he picked the ball off Metro’s midfield and drove forward with Andreas Weis, Tete Yengi and Stefan Simic all ahead of him. A dangerous chance for Comets yet a combination of Carmody and his defence scrambled the ball away.
In the 35th minute, Adelaide Comets create another chance with a long throw. This time Metro failed to react to a bouncing ball. Stefan Simic was quickest off the mark beating Cali and Carmody to the ball, scoring with a decisive touch. Comets are rewarded for their early pressure and take the lead, 1-nil.
Comets continued to turn the screw as Yengi dribbled forward on the left wing, with a low cross into the feet of Weis. He had an attempt on goal deflected towards the back post where Simic was waiting. Carmody was forced into a save and pushed it away for a corner.
Comets walked away at the break with a 1-nil lead. MetroStars and Comets still had it all to play for in the last 45 minutes.
MetroStars came out the eager of the two sides as newly introduced Barbiero crossed the ball into the back post, but a poor defensive header caused trouble for Julian Torresan the Comets keeper as he failed to deal with the high ball convincingly.
Despite the changes from Metro, Yengi was always going to be the creative spark for the Comets and he didn’t let them down. He was fouled inside the box at the hour mark. The Comets captain, Alan Welsh stepped up to take the spot kick. He sent Carmody the wrong way and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner. Comets were 2-nil up going into the last 30 minutes.
In the 72nd minute the Metro defence didn’t deal with a cross in by Travaglione from the right wing, they struggled to get a head to it. Tete Yengi controlled the ball and lined up a shot at the keepers near post. The linesman had indicated the ball had crossed the line despite Metros’ effort to keep it out, 3-nil to the Comets.
Comets striker, Weis won a flick on header to his fellow attackers, Gollan reaches the ball first and swept it onto Simic. With a bit of luck, he took his first touch away from his defender and fired in a low shot towards the keeper. Carmody couldn’t get to it and Simic scored in the 83rd minute, to put Comets up by fourth and tally his second of the afternoon.
Daniel Elder calls the final whistle on proceedings, Adelaide Comets take confidence from a rampant win into the Boral Final Series Grand Final against Campbelltown City. MetroStars left wondering what could’ve been but will take a back seat and prepare for their 2020 NPL campaign.
Women's National Premier League
Dawber’s hat trick confirms Adelaide City's place at Coopers Stadium
The first Preliminary final of the weekend sees Adelaide City face Salisbury Inter under the lights at the VALO Football Centre.
In the early stages of this encounter, Adelaide City turned up the pressure with Daniela Di Bartolo, Nanako Sasaki and Alicia Nickolas combining on the left.
Sian McLaren in the Salisbury Inter was the busier of the two keepers in the first 25 minutes, as she had to be quick off the mark to limit continuous through balls as Adelaide City’s improved their press trying to break defensive lines.
Dylan Holmes did exquisitely well to open the scoring in the 29th minute. Nanako Sasaki started the sweeping move with composure in the middle of the park. She picked out her captain, Powell brought it down for Holmes who danced past her defender and placed the ball past the stranded McLaren.
Salisbury Inter continued to sit deep, which cost them. Powell set up Yuka Sasaki at the top of the box, she placed a right foot rocket into the top right corner. Adelaide City were 2-nil up at the half hour mark.
Nicole Calder, a shining light for Salisbury Inter gets hurt after a goal line clearance, stopping her side going another goal down. Calder was substituted minutes after this courageous effort.
Adelaide City came agonisingly close to extending their lead before the break, as Georgia Campagnale rattled the crossbar for Adelaide City and McLaren made two great saves, both chances falling to Y. Sasaki.
It didn’t take long for Adelaide City’s attack to open the game up in their final third. Within 10 minutes of the restart, Dawber finds the back of the net twice. Holmes creating the first chance, while Di Bartolo, Holmes, and Y. Sasaki all got involved to find an unmarked Dawber on the penalty spot.
Dawber completed her hat trick, bagging her third in the 59th minute. Arguably finishing off her easiest of the night, she finished off the competition too. All by the hour mark.
Salisbury Inter tried their best to stop the bleeding and did so with greater composure in possession. Their efforts were rewarded in the 78th minute as Emily Condon picked the ball up on the edge of the box after a poor goal kick. Condon struck the ball with curve into the back of the net. Merely a consolation goal but a great finish nonetheless.
Sian McLaren was the busiest player on the park in the final 20 minutes. She made a couple of fantastic double saves and made a set of strong saves. McLaren ventured forward for the last corner of the game as she managed to get on to a volley traveling just past the post.
Adelaide City booked their place in to the WNPL Boral Final Series Grand Final. Salisbury Inter will refocus for a new season. Congratulations to both sides for a great finals run.
State League 1
Cumberland United return to the NPL for the first time since 2017
With it all to play for, Sturt Lions and Cumberland United battled it out for a place in Boral Final Series Grand Final and elusive promotion into South Australia’s highest competitive division.
It was a cagey start to proceedings although Cumberland United was the first team to settle on the ball and keep possession early on. Against the run of play, Samuel Voigt slotted it past Luke Schoen to convert Sturt’s first attempt on goal. Voigt was first to arrive following an accurate Dadzie cross. Voigt stayed composed as he sidefoots the volley past Schoen to put his side 1-nil up in the 6th minute.
Dadzie proved to be Sturt’s lifeline with increasing Cumberland pressure, as he did incredibly well to relieve his side on multiple occasions. He collected possession inside his own half in the 21st minute, drawing a foul in the attacking third. Sturt’s best attacking chances were created on the left wing through Dadzie and Co.
Cumberland failed to draw level in the 28th minute with Jace Cummins' low driven corner comes off Joshua Harvey. Klappers with an incredible reflex save pushes the ball around the post and punches the following corner away; protecting his team’s slender advantage.
With the final chance of a balanced first half, Rodriguez turned his defender, putting a cross towards the back post with Anthony Taylor there ready to header it back into goal, Schoen forced into an acrobatic save tipping it over the bar.
Cumberland start the second half where they left off, dictating the tempo and do so with a corner in the 48th minute. That sat up for Phelps who headed it back into the danger area. Jace Cummins was the quickest to react and squeezed the ball past Klappers. Tying the score at 1-1 within 5 minutes of the restart.
In the 69th minute, Ryan Wood delivers a floating free kick to the back post. Akira Kobaishi tangles and brings down Phelps; the referee Daniel Cook deemed it a foul in the box. The substitute Thomas Briscoe slotted the penalty into the bottom left corner. Cumberland took the lead for the first time in afternoon.
The super-sub Briscoe was heavily involved in the build-up of the third goal, as Sturt’s Fusco fouled Briscoe. In the 74th minute, Klappers and the Sturt defence faced Ryan Wood and Briscoe stood over the free kick. Briscoe curved in the free kick from right to left, flying over Klappers flailing arm with plenty of dip and swerve. Briscoe extendes Cumberland lead to 3-1.
Rodrigues tries his best to inspire his side in the 88th minute creating a crossing opportunity for Fusco. He found Shoemark at the back post but he failed to hit the target, the chance goes begging for Sturt Lions.
The 90 + 3 minute saw Mullins drift in behind the defence to flick a header over the onrushing Schoen. Shoemark found Mullins with a perfectly weighted flick over the top. Merely a consolation goal as the referee, Daniel Cook sounds his final whistle seconds after the restart.
Cumberland United have confirmed their position into the Boral Final Series Grand Final and get to enjoy the next season in the National Premier League. Sturt, courageous as they were, play State League football in 2020. Congratulations to both sides.
State League 2
Vipers gain promotion and place in Grand Final
The league runners up Gawler Eagles played host to the Adelaide Vipers who had the long way round in this final series. Both worthy advocates to feature in the Grand Final of the Boral Final Season.
The Adelaide Vipers seem to retain early control over the match as they dominated possession but neither team could convert a chance within the first 20 minutes.
In our game that we love, fortune favours the bold and little else can be said for Vipers effort Saturday afternoon. The Vipers carried on with attacking football and were rewarded a penalty in the 24th minute. Aleksandar Simic didn’t need a second invitation to put his team 1-nil up away from home.
Vipers continued where they left off in the first half. Putting early pressure back on the Gawler side. Gawler’s defence held firm until the 73rd minute. A moment of brilliance for Nicholas Stefanopoulos put his side 2-nil up with 15 minutes remaining in the match.
Gawler Eagles reclaimed possession as the clock wound down and Vipers sat back. As Gawler chased one back they had left themselves exposed to the counter and the fresh legs of Alexi Georgakopoulos finds the back of the net. Alexi made an instant impact, substituting into the match on the 85th and cementing his side's place in the grand final in the 86th minute.
The Adelaide Vipers enjoy their first-ever trip to Coopers Stadium and face off against Adelaide Hills on the biggest stage in the competition. Gawler Eagles go back to the drawing board after an incredible effort in their league campaign. Congratulations to both sides.