A battle between two of the top three went to wire on Saturday afternoon in Klemzig.
In a game of two halves, it was MetroStars who willed themselves over the line in hard fought 2-1 victory over a determined Adelaide Comets, in their PlayStation 4 National Premier League Round 15 clash at T.K Shutter Reserve.
Metro were completely out pointed in the first half by a more organised Comets side. The first half was mainly played in the middle third of the park as Metro struggled to penetrate the opposition defence with any fluency.
Comets jumped a very lethargic Metro unit who seemed to be in slow motion for most of the first half, which allowed the visitors to hit the scoreboard early when Allan Welsh played a neat through ball into the path of Lewis Farquhar who raced into the box and drilled a shot past a scrambling Isaac Carmody.
Metro struggled to get any input from their usual prime movers Fabian Barbiero and Liam Wooding as the Comets midfielders in Nathan Andijanto, Allan Welsh and Doni Pollock blanketed their influence.
Farquhar and Valentino Yuel looked threatening when they were in possession of the ball through the wing channels.
Both tried hard to get Andreas Wiens involved in the play, but the Metro defenders in Michael D’Aloisio and Tim Henderson kept the big striker on a tight leash.
Comets setup their attacks through Yuel as they kept pressing high. And the stylish winger nearly gave the visitors a second goal in 30th minute, when his shot on goal from close range was denied by a great reflex save by Carmody.
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Metro limped into the half-time break a goal down, and in need of a spark for the second half.
Metro coach Robbie Saraceno restructured his line-up after the break sending Christian Esposito into the middle of the park and Wooding out wide.
The moves sparked a revival as Metro began to win more of the ball.
Barbiero worked himself into the game and began to bring other players into the contest with his ball distribution. Mathew Dawber who was quiet early started to benefit from his midfielder’s efforts.
It was a completely different Metro side as they went in search for a parity goal. And it came in the 62nd minute when an Esposito shot on goal ricocheted off the keeper into the path of Wooding who slotted the ball into the back of the net.
The goal changed the dynamics of the game as the ball moved from end to end as both sides looked for the winning goal.
A clumsy tackle by Comets’ goalkeeper Alex Woodlands on Wooding gifted Metro a penalty that Esposito calmly converted to give Metro the match-winning lead.
Comets tried hard to salvage a draw but the Metro defence stood tall and were resilient until the final whistle.
It was a relieved and tired Metro forward Esposito after the game, as reflected on how the midweek game impacted their performance.
“This was an important game for us, but we started poorly, we couldn’t get ourselves into the game and we just didn’t gel in the first half,” Esposito said.
“We had a really hard week and we were a little flat.”
“ (Coach – Saraceno) Robbie told us at half-time to hang strong and battle it out to the end.”
“We came into this game with a lot of hunger to win, so when we got the equaliser we sensed the opportunity and we grabbed it.”
It was a disappointed Comets midfielder Nathan Andijanto as he pondered on what might have been if they took their chances.
“I thought we played well for the majority of the match, but lapses in concentration at crucial moments of the game cost us the win,” Andjanto said.
“We had our fair share of chances but we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
“This was a disappointing result for us. We let three points slip, as we try to chase down Adelaide City at the top of the ladder.”
The week ahead
With the bye next week due to the Cup Final, Comets will lick their wounds and prepare to host Croydon Kings in their next outing in a fortnight. While Metro will travel to Adelaide City Park for what will be a “Cup Final” replay on the same weekend.
Written by Joe Pangallo
Article feature image: Joe Janko.