R21 Wrap: West Adelaide vs. MetroStars
With a finals berth within their grasp, an inspired West Adelaide defeated a spirited MetroStars via a Ricardo Da Silva brace in their 3-1 win at the Adelaide Shores Football Centre, in their PlayStation 4 National Premier League Round 21 encounter.
West Adelaide will still need results from next week’s final round of the season to fall their way for them to secure a place in the top six. Metro had a chance to slam the door shut on West Adelaide’s final’s aspirations, but couldn’t get the job done.
It was always going to be a big ask for Metro to get themselves up (after a gruelling mid-week FFA Cup engagement), against a side desperate to salvage their season. To their credit the Metro put up a brave fight but in the end the hosts had all the answers.
West Adelaide were in top gear from the start, controlling proceedings through the midfield. Nathan Andijanto, Tony Hatzis and Hikaru Tanaka were giving their forwards a good look at the ball, putting the Metro defence under pressure.
But it was Metro who against the run of play had two early opportunities to open the scoring through Adam Van Dommele's set pieces, but both attempts missed their target.
West Adelaide’s unrelenting forward forays were rewarded in the 10th minute of the game when a well weighted pass by Andijanto found Perry Mitris loose in the box. The clever forward picked his mark and slotted the ball past a diving Metro goalkeeper Callum Piantadosi to give his side the lead.
Metro’s defence was under siege, and if not for the staunch defending of Timothy Henderson and Michael D’Alosio the visitors could have been further behind on the scoreboard.
An injury to West’s defender Robbie Lippett forced coach Paul Pezos to restructure his back four. Andijanto was shifted into defence which seemed to open up the midfield, and Metro took full advantage. Fabian Barbiero, Bailey Truscott and Stefan Simic worked themselves into the game.
A superb 21st minute strike by the zippy Simic eluded the outstretch hand of the diving keeper Dan Atkins in the West Adelaide goals for the equaliser, as the visitors wrestled back the momentum after a sluggish start, to mount a concerted challenge.
After controlling the game early, West Adelaide found themselves fighting to hold out a marauding Metro attacking midfield. Two brilliant saves by Atkins in the 32nd and 33rd minute denied goals to Simic and Alexander Jacob respectively.
West Adelaide would have been relieved to go into the halftime break on level terms after dominating the early stages of the half. In the Metro change rooms Robbie Saraceno’s chargers would have been full of optimism with their efforts.
It was West Adelaide who made the early running again in the second half, and unlike the first, the Blue & Whites were in complete domination of the game as Metro began to tire. Da Silva and Briscoe were looking threatening in West Adelaide’s forward third, while Hatzis and Tanaka controlled the middle of the park.
A 52nd minute penalty awarded to West Adelaide when Mitch Nicholson was bought down saw Ricardo Da Silva convert the spot kick to give West the lead. The talented midfield nearly had another soon after but his strike was blocked by a good save by Piantadosi.
But the Metro goalkeeper custodian couldn’t deny Da Silva’s strike in the 62nd minute which found the back of the net and put an end to Metro’s challenge.
A philosophical Mitch Nicholson was buoyed by the victory, which still gives his side hope to play finals. He said the team lost some of that winning hunger they had last season, but they have worked hard to get their season back on track.
“We dug deep today to get the win which still gives us a chance to play finals. But we have to rely on others which isn’t the best scenario.” Nicholson said
“We started the season lacking that winning hunger and desire, that is the reason we find ourselves in the current predicament. But to the boys credit we have found a way back and we feel that if we can get a crack at finals we could do a lot of damage.”
“There will be a lot of teams in that top six that would fear our presence in the finals if we make it. But first we need to get over Croydon next week and hope the other results help our cause.”
An exhausted Stefan Simic paid tribute to West Adelaide’s performance, and didn’t use any excuses for his sides loss.
“West Adelaide deserved the three points today. They worked hard for most parts of the game and put away their chances when they came along.” Simic said
“We started the game slow, and they really pressured us on the ball, but we were able to fight back and equalise before halftime which gave us hope.”
“But the two second half goals just killed the game for us and we began chasing shirts late in the contest.”
West Adelaide travel to Polonia Reserve next week to tackle Croydon Kings (a relegation contender) for three vital points that both sides need to secure to fulfil their cause.
Written by: Joe Pangallo
Photo by: Andy Williams