A Lachlan Barr additional time header secured 10 man North Eastern MetroStars the victory over South Adelaide Panthers in Round 19 of the National Premier League – SA competition.
An inspirational performance by Anthony Solagna, the return of Fabian Barbiero and a key substitution sparked the last gasp victory with Barr securing the three points.
Barr nearly gave MetroStars the lead in the opening minutes, when a Solagna free kick was floated into the box, but Panthers goalkeeper Con Zacharopoulos made a crucial interception just in the nick off time as Barr was closing in for a header.
Panthers had a shout for a penalty turned down by referee Daniel Cook, when Adam Thurston went down in the box, with Barr getting to the ball first before the two players made contact.
Christian Esposito and Mathew Dawber continued to pile on the usual pressure, but MetroStars were unable to break the deadlock.
The chances come fast after the half hour mark, firstly through Solagna whose shot from the top of the box went wide of the goal posts, while David Thornton had a chance to score for Panthers, when Sam Carmichael played him through, but MetroStars keeper Issac Carmody got to the ball first to clear, before the two players collided. In an usual moment, it looked like the referee gave Panthers a free kick for the collision, before restarting the match with a drop ball.
Sam Carmichael earned the first caution of the match for a tackle on Solagna, with the free kick by Solagna finding Alex Jakob free on top of the box, whose cheeky flick sailed just over the cross bar.
Just prior to half time, MetroStars had two more chances to break the deadlock, firstly through Jakob, who rose above Jake Carmichael, but his header was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Zacharopoulos, and moments later, a free kick by Solagna found Barr free on the back post, but his header nipped the top of the crossbar and out for a goalkick.
A slow start to the second half, saw the first real chance fall to Panthers in the 65th minute, when Thornton intercepted the ball after a turnover on the half way line, and took on two MetroStars defenders, before taking a shot, that fell into the hands of Carmody,
Shortly after, Tim Henderson’s tackle saw him go into the referee’s book, with the resulting free kick by Kegan Osborne finding Thornton, whose shot hit the top of the shoulder of a MetroStars defender, with shouts of a penalty by Panthers players turned down by Cook.
MetroStars coach Robbie Saraceno made two key changes which swung the match, firstly bringing on Matt Charalambous followed by in the 72nd minute, Barbiero making his long awaited return, after sitting out the first 18 rounds through injury.
Both players sparked MetroStars into action, with Barbiero playing the ball out wide to Justin Davis, who crossed into the box with Barr’s diving header being cleared away by Panthers defender Rob Parker, only for the ball to fall to Solagna who beat two players and cleverly chipped the ball into the box, with Charalambous slotting the volley past Zacharopoulos.
Shortly after, Henderson was sent off, after a slight nudge on the half way line presented him with his second yellow card for the match.
And Panthers capitalised with the extra man, spurring into attack, and getting their equaliser when Thornton slotted past Carmody from just inside the box.
But it was Barr’s moment in additional time, when Stefan Cali’s long throw in into the box, was flicked over by the head of Dawber, and Barr was first to the ball, beating Zacharopoulos and Jake Carmichael to header into the goal.
Panthers had a chance to equalise a minute later, when Osborne’s free kick landed into the box, but after two blocked shot attempts, MetroStars eventually cleared the ball, and the match was over.
MetroStars 2 (Charalambous 73’, Barr 90+2’)
South Adel 1 (Thornton 86’)
MetroStars - Carmody, Barr, Henderson, D'Aloisio, Callisto (Barbiero 72'), Jakob (Charalambous 73'), Solagna, Davis, Dawber, Morris (Cali 59'), Esposito.
Panthers - Zacharopoulos, J.Carmichael, Krantis, Parker, Goode, S.Carmichael, Lobasso, Osborne, Tennion, Thurston ((Convoy '57) Smith 62'), Thornton.