R17 Wrap: Croydon Kings v Adelaide Blue Eagles
A dominant first half by a tenacious Blue Eagles midfield set the visitors up for a comfortable 3-0 victory over the home side Croydon Kings in their Round 17 PlayStation 4 National Premier League South Australia encounter at Polonia Reserve.
Under gloomy skies Blue Eagles started the first half in full flight, suffocating Croydon through the midfield, and pressing high in their forward half. Alemayo Kebede, Damian Crettenden, and Anthony Dimas had a stellar first half controlling the centre corridor, setting up plenty of scoring opportunities for their forwards.
Blue Eagles’ Italian import Mattia Perrotti got involved early in his central striker position, with an assist in the 3rd minute of the game. His glancing header found the elusive Anthony Dimas on the back post who headed the ball into the back net to open the scoring.
Dimas repaid Perrotti in the 9th minute with a neat pass that found Perrotti free in the box. The classy Italian caressed the ball onto his right side and shot the ball low past a diving Nicholas Munro in the Croydon goal to give the visitors a two goal buffer.
It wasn’t going to be Croydon’s day as things went from bad to worse when right full back Dion Gazettas was forced from the ground with a leg injury. Mark Brazzale was forced to restructure his side, introducing the speedy Elvis Kambosa off the bench to a left wing, and moving James Skeffington into the midfield
Blue Eagles’ superior work rate put enormous pressure on the Croydon defence. Fortunato Filletti and Jean Glaude Boyokino were destructive through the right and left channels respectively, while turnovers were killing Croydon as the visitors pounced on any loose ball. Nathan Farrell, John Panagaris and Luke Klimek were solid in Croydon’s back third repelling the Blue Eagles advances, while Rocky Visconte and Skeffington toiled hard with little result.
So much was Blue Eagles dominance that Croydon’s first shot on target didn’t come until the 35th minute of the half when Visconte sent a well-executed pass into the path of Kambosa whose shot was well saved by Pedram Sorjani.
Croydon slowly worked themselves back into the contest in the shades of halftime, Skeffinton, Visconte and Michael Doyle seeing more of the ball which gave the Croydon faithful hope for the second half.
It was a more spirited Croydon after the break, as they mounted an early challenge, but the lack of a damaging spearhead in front of goal to finish off the hard work from the midfielders was evident.
Croydon mounted some telling forward sorties in search of an opening goal and it took some good glove work by Sourjani in the 46th minute, then again in the 59th to deny Croydon a score as the frustration began to show on the faces of the Croydon players.
And it was frustration that sent Boyokino to the penalty spot when he was taken down by a shirt pulling Farrell. The left winger made no mistake to register Blue Eagles’ third goal for the match and his thirteenth for the season.
Alemayo continued to be prominent with his partner in crime Crettenden in the middle third of the park, while up front Perrotti, Filletti and Boyokino continued to threaten the scorers. In defence fullbacks Alex Solari and Chris Christofilos were great support for Christopher Atsikabasis and the superb Samuel Tesfagabr
Blue Eagles were comfortable to sit back and absorb Croydon’s late surge as the wind was slowly being drawn out of Croydon’s Mainsail, as the game wilted away to the final whistle.
A cheerful “Man of the Match” Alemayo said Blue Eagles prepared themselves for a hard challenge at training during the week, and knew they had to get on top of Croydon early if they were to win the game.
“Croydon are a good side who play hard, we trained for a hard contest and that’s what it was today.… a real hard contest.” Alemayo said
“We came out fast in the first half and the early goals helped us get on top, and so our confidence grew.”
Alemayo was full of praise for his teammates in particular Tesfagabr who was terrific in the centre of the defence.
“He (Tesfagabr) was really good today, his work on the ball was great and he sent a lot of balls my way. But I have to say the whole team knows their role in the side and they know what needs to be done in every game for us to win.”
A frustrated and dejected Luke Klimek had no answer to the predicament Croydon find themselves in at the moment. He said they went into the match confident but another slow start cost them vital points again.
“They jumped us at the start and capitalised on two of our mistakes which put us on the back foot early, but to the boys credit we worked our way back into the game and we put up a challenge” Klimek said.
“We had our chances in the second half but our finishing up front let us down. It’s been the same script in recent games where we have had good scoring opportunities but haven’t been able to hit the back of the net. If you can’t score goals, you not going to win too many games.”
The loss sends Croydon spiralling down to precarious 11th place with a massive survival game against third placed West Torrens Birkalla at Jack Smith Park next week.
For Blue Eagles they will host West Adelaide, a win vital to fend off a fast finishing MetroStars who have worked their way into the top six, one point behind of the Marden boys.
Written by: Joe Pangallo