Finals Week 3 Wrap: West Adelaide v West Torrens Birkalla
West Adelaide recovered from an early deficit to advance to the Grand Final in a pulsating 5-2 triumph against West Torrens Birkalla in the PlayStation 4 National Premier League South Australia at Adelaide Shores Football Centre on Saturday.
Ryan Kitto opened the scoring in the 19th minute, but West Adelaide was level at the interval as Nathan Andijanto equalised.
The second half belonged to John Karatzas, who netted a decisive hat-trick to help the Blue and Whites advance, although Kitto’s second briefly offered Birkalla hope. Tom Briscoe came off the bench to round out the scoring.
West Adelaide coach Paul Pezos noted second half changes aided his team.
“It was quite good, the result is obviously pleasing. How we played was satisfying and importantly we put our chances away,” he said.
“The focus in this game was to finish our opportunities and we did that. We had few shots, but a lot went in.
“Birkalla did well in the first half, but I thought towards half time we started to dominate possession more. It was a bonus to score just before the break. We pressed a lot harder in the second half, utilised the ball better and waited for the right moments.
“Next week is another game against another opponent, but it’s a good confidence booster.”
Coach Steve Degiovanniello felt West Adelaide’s equaliser was the decisive moment.
“We had a fantastic first half. We started strong and got the goal. However, the goal was conceded just before half time was the game changer,” the coach said.
“It was a big momentum shifter. We would have preferred to go in leading and full of confidence. That was a deflating incident.
“We didn’t lose just because of it, however. West Adelaide was clinical in the second half. We had a few chances to equalise, but that’s football. It didn’t go our way. The scoreline was not a fair reflection of the game.
“It’s difficult to look back at the season now as what happened in this game is still fresh in my mind. I can better reflect on what we did in a week or two.”
Ricardo Da Silva whipped in a dangerous third minute free kick which Andijanto got to, but could only head over.
Captain Eli Vlassis and goalkeeper Daniel Atkins got in a tangle after Kitto burst past two defenders and charged into the penalty area, allowing the winger to slot in the loose ball to give Birkalla the lead.
Karatzas found Andijanto on a tight angle inside the penalty area on the stroke of half time and the No 14 squeezed his shot in at the near post past Julian Torresan.
Birkalla could have restored the lead as Atkins came off his line to thwart Kitto, who played the ball back for Thomas Quaglia. His shot was cleared off the line by Mitch Nicholson.
In the 58th minute Alex Rideout picked out Kosta Mantis, but after his effort was saved Karatzas gathered the loose ball and buried the rebound into the top corner.
Karatzas got on the end of Rideout’s cutback five minutes later to slot the ball past Torresan, giving the Blue and Whites breathing space.
Yet the impressive Kitto reduced the deficit in the 72nd minute after another typically surging run through the heart of the West Adelaide defence and a clinical finish across goalkeeper Atkins.
Birkalla had the momentum and Kitto squared the ball for Scott Nagel to fire just over the top.
However, West Adelaide quelled the comeback on the counter-attack in the 78th minute as Da Silva found Karatzas, who finished neatly to complete his hat-trick.
Substitute Briscoe beat the offside trap in injury time and rounded Torresan to finish into an empty net, capping a fine afternoon for West Adelaide.
Article by Luca Cetta - @l_cetta