Elizabeth Downs beats top flight giant MetroStars on penalties
Elizabeth Downs has defeated top flight MetroStars to pull off one of the biggest shocks in state soccer history and become the first amateur club to reach the FFA Cup SA last four.
The northern suburbs side fought back from a 2-0 first-half deficit to secure a 3-3 draw after extra-time and take Tuesday night’s quarter-final to a penalty shootout at Argana Park.
Goalkeeper Ben Aldridge made a stunning spot kick save, before Jacob Leahey slotted home the decisive strike to send his team through and the vocal home crowd into raptures.
It was fitting end to a drama-filled cup tie and ensured Downs’ fairytale cup run would continue to within one victory of the Hindmarsh Stadium decider.
A healthy turnout was on hand to see if the reigning Sunday amateur champion could upset the odds against the National Premier Leagues SA powerhouse.
Photo credit: Adam Butler
Indeed, the venue was only given the green light to host the clash after Playford Council stepped in to provide the required temporary fencing around the pitch.The hosts weathered the early storm against a side playing two divisions above them, but were undone by two goals in three minutes by Matthew Dawber and Matthew Charalambous. Just when Downs appeared to be facing an uphill task, Cody Morrison handed it an immediate lifeline when his low drive found its way through a crowded box and into the bottom corner.
The home side lifted after the break and were rewarded when Stefan Cali inadvertently deflected a low cross into his own net.Things got ever better for the home team just after the hour as Tom Blackett clinically finished off a sweeping team move to give Downs the lead for the first time.But Cooper O’Donnell tapped in the rebound after a brilliant Aldridge stop to send the gripping encounter to an additional period of play.The Downs custodian made a string of brilliant saves and both sides hit the woodwork to ensure the match finished even and would be decided from 12 yards.
MetroStars keeper Isaac Carmody kept out the opening penalty, before a miss by the visitors and Aldridge’s inspired intervention edged Downs in front.The remainder of the spot kicks were converted, leaving Leahy to hold his nerve and write a new chapter in the amateur kings’ story.