METROSTARS coach Robbie Saraceno says his side’s smash and grab win over Raiders has restored belief and sparked its fighting spirit following a three-game winless run.
The Klemzig club left it late in a tight contest at the Croatian Sports Centre on Saturday night as Dylan Smith’s 85th minute strike sealed a much-needed three points.
It secured MetroStars’ first triumph since round four and moved it to fourth on the National Premier Leagues SA table heading into the second third of the regular season.
“It’s not normal for us,” said Saraceno, of his team’s struggles heading into the clash.
“But it’s such an even competition this year, so the result was really important.
Photo credit: Adam Butler
“The season is not going to be over in round eight, but we needed a response in our attitude and our workrate and that was there.
“The three points was fantastic obviously, because that’s the end product of what you try to work for.
“The boys were switched on and very hungry, and there were some really positives signs from the way we played.”
Christian Esposito hit the post for the visitors in the first half, before MetroStars goalkeeper Isaac Carmody made a fine save to deny Terence Carter after the break.
Smith settled the encounter at the death when he got on the end of a Matthew Dawber cut back to control and smash home a half-volley.
It was the former Adelaide United attacker’s third goal since joining the club from Sturt Lions in the off-season.
“It was a really hard battle against a very good team,” said Saraceno, who also praised the displays of centre backs Michael Daloisio, Lachlan Barr and Anthony Solagna.
“There wasn’t many chances in the game, but we were lucky enough to take a chance at the end to get the result.
“I think Dylan just had to go back to basics.
“He just needs to set himself in this league to do well and then maybe he’ll get another opportunity (at A-League level).”
MetroStars take a break from league action next weekend when they face fellow top flight side Para Hills at the Paddocks in the FFA Cup SA round-of-16.
Saraceno said it was an opportunity to edge closer to the club’s sixth knockout title, while building on its winning momentum.
“They’re going to be tough and at their home ground it’s always difficult,” Saraceno said.
“We’ll go out there with a bit of confidence, but we know that we’ve got to put the same sort of performance in that we did against Raiders.
“They (Para Hills) had a really good result and they’re up and about as well.”
The Knights moved to within four points of the top-six with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Adelaide City at Oakden on Anzac Day.
Dominic Matricciani opened the scoring for the Black and Whites early in the second half, but Thilo Wilke and Tyson Herraman strikes sealed the visitor’s success.