Preliminary Final Wrap: Campbelltown City vs. West Torrens Birkalla
A marauding Campbelltown City charged their way into next week’s Grand Final, with a resounding 4-0 victory over a deflated West Torrens Birkalla at Steve Woodcock Sports Centre, in their Play Station 4 National Premier League South Australia Preliminary Final.
First half goals to Adam Piscioneri and Tom Strain set up the win for the home side as the visitors struggled to get any rhythm in their game. Additional second half goals to Anthony Ture and Lui Ditrioa sealed the game for the “Red Devils”.
Under the watchful eye of Adelaide City coach Damian Mori in the grandstand, Campbelltown started the game a little cautiously, which allowed Birkalla to take the early momentum in the game.
The first fifteen minutes of the contest belonged to Birkalla who pressed high into their forward half.
Ryan Yates, Ian Kamau and Lawrence D’Arrigo were winning plenty of the ball in the middle of the park for the Birks, as they setup forward movement for Paul Radice and Fumiya Suzuki. Both players looked threatening every time the ball came their way.
Suzuki nearly had the opening goal of the game in the 15th minute when he intercepted a pass and ran into the penalty box but his shot went wide of the upright.
Campbelltown began to work themselves into the game with forward pressure of their own through their wingbacks in Jake Monaco and Jake Halliday. The duo had numerous forward forays from both wing channels, presenting Strain, Ditrioa and Ture with plenty of scoring opportunities.
The home side opened the scoring in the 21st minute when a clearance from defence by Vasilis Parhas found its way to Ditrioa on the left side of the park. The stylish winger raced forward on the counter attack and squared a pass to an unmarked Piscioneri at the edge of the box who fired a shot past a diving Birkalla keeper Julian Torresan.
The goal seemed turn the game completely in Campbelltown’s direction, as they began to build confidence on the ball. Kieta Minomura, Piscioneri and Parhas were getting on top in the midfield, as Birkalla began to struggle to pierce the defensive wall Campbelltown had created.
Campbelltown had their second goal on the board in the 42nd minute of the game, when Yates seemed to slip when trying to retrieve a pass. This allowed the opportunistic Strain to pounce on the loose ball and race into the box for a one on one duel with Torresan which Strain easily won by slotting the ball into the back of the net.
Birkalla with a two goal deficit, were a dejected side as the halftime whistle sounded. Steve Degiovanniello would have been disappointed with his player’s final half hour of the half after a promising start to the game.
It was more of the same in the second half as Campbelltown were out to make a statement.
Ditrioa had a chance to extend the lead in the opening minutes when he won the ball in the middle of the park and weaved through traffic for a shot on goal, but his attempt went wide.
Degiovanniello, sensing the game slipping away went to his bench for some inspiration.
William Plush, last week’s goal scoring hero was introduced along with Chris Skull to inject life into the midfield, but there was nothing that the Birkalla’s coach could do to stop the rampaging Campbelltown who had their ears pricked like a two-mile champion galloper nearing the finish line.
Campbelltown’s defensive movement forward, back, and across the park was a chorographer’s dream as they repelled anything that looked like a Birkalla forward attack.
Campbelltown were happy to let Birkalla play the ball across their back third but once it moved forward of the centre the same suspects in Minomura, Parhas and Piscioneri were there to swoop to turn defence into attack for the “Red Devils”.
A 64th minute attempt on goal by Ture was brilliantly saved by Torresan. The Birkalla gloveman was called upon again in the 71st minute with another good save off the line to deny Iain Fyfe.
But Campbelltown’s avalanche of attacks paid dividends in the 83rd minute when a neat cross into the box by substitute Josh Williams found Ture at the back post who headed the ball past Torresan into the roof of the net.
It was Ditroia’s turn to get his name on the score sheet in the 87th minute courtesy of a Kento Hara through ball which Ditrioa drilled past a diving Torresan to seal the rout.
It was a beaming Adam Piscioneri after the game who said after a slow start their confidence grew and they were able to seize control of the game.
“Call it nerves call it over cautious, but we were slow to get going, but once we got that goal it was no turning back.” Piscioneri said confidently
“Birkalla were really dangerous early but credit to our back four who were solid all day.”
When quizzed about next week’s encounter, Piscioneri was quick with his positive spin on the last two loses.
“We know we can match any team in the league, we have the best defence, and if we get it right in front of goal like we did today we can score goals.”
“We were unlucky in both contests against Adelaide City and we will go into the Grand Final with no fear.” He added
Commiserations to Steve Degiovanniello and his Birkalla players. They were extremely competitive all season and their third placing again this year gives them a good spring board for 2017.
A big congratulations to Campbelltown coach Joe Mullen for engineering an emphatic Preliminary Final victory and winning a spot in next week’s Grand Final against arch rival Adelaide City.
Written by: Joe Pangallo
Photo by: Adam Butler