Adelaide United strengthened their chances of top flight survival on Saturday afternoon at The Parks.
Apostolos Stamatelopoulos’s winner overawed Croydon Kings, as Adelaide United prevailed 2-1 in Round 20 of the PlayStation 4 National Premier League at The Parks Football Centre on Saturday.
With two games of the season remaining, Adelaide’s win against Croydon was imperative to maintain their place in the competition, and it was achieved with their best performance to date.
Croydon Kings, who sit fifth, will look to continue to cement their spot for a finals berth.
Pacifique Niyongabire had broken the deadlock late into the first half, to give the home side the lead.
— Adam Butler (@80kms) July 29, 2017
Shaun McGreevy – who played his 250th milestone match, equalised for the visitors with a stunning header.
Adelaide then persevered for the maximum points and in the 69th minute, were rewarded through Stamatelopoulos.
Daniel Margush was named in Huss Skenderovic’s starting XI, stepping in for Isaac Richards.
His Hyundai A-League and Asian Champions League experience shun brightly as he marshalled the squad with instructions and praise.
Adelaide’s first real chance came from Kristin Konstandopoulos, as he eased past defenders, but his final shot floated over the crossbar.
Kings’ Rocky Visconte had tried his luck from distance, but was just off the mark.
The scoreline remained square until 37 minutes in, when Niyongabire intensified the game, accelerating towards goal and put away a tidy finish past Nick Munro.
The lead was short-lived as Kings’ McGreevy headed in for the equaliser from a corner kick.
United’s Captain, Josh Mori quickly tried to answer back, as his launcher lashed the bar.
In a nail-biting moment for the hosts, Visconte fired a threatening free-kick in the penalty area, but Paul Wilson had managed to clear.
To regain the lead, Stamatelopoulos remained calm and composed to blaze the ball into the back of the net, in wet and windy conditions.
Croydon continued to search for the second equaliser, but Margush kept solid, as well as saving clearances were made by the United defence.
Following the match, Adelaide United Head Coach, Huss Skenderovic was ecstatic with the display, and also importantly, to remain focussed for the full 90 minutes.
“It was one of the best performances of the season, collectively,” Skenderovic said.
“I think we executed both the grit and the concentration for long periods of the game that we have always been asking for in these big match-ups.
“To not concede in those last 10-15 minutes, was something we have been working on and have improved on.
“6-8 weeks ago, we probably would have struggled, but it shows how far we have come and we looked more composed and we didn’t panic as much.
“Having Daniel Margush in goals was also great, and he is a great leader.
“We coped with the pressure and towards the end, we held the ball up in key areas and ran the clock down.
The week ahead
Next week, Adelaide United travel to Jack Smith Park to face WT Birkalla, while Croydon Kings host Adelaide Blue Eagles at Polonia Reserve.
Written by Cassandra Treppiedi.
Article feature image: Adam Butler.