We preview the Preliminary Final in the National Premier Leagues - SA competition as North Eastern MetroStars face Adelaide Comets away at the SA Athletics Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
MetroStars are coming off a hard fought 2-1 win against Olympic (match highlights here) in their Elimination Final last Saturday.
Christian Esposito grabbed the headlines as he bagged two goals to give MetroStars their fifth win in a row.
Metro started strongly as they looked to take it to Olympic early. Nahuel Bonada tested goalkeeper Nick Harpas early with a stinging shot and Hamish Gow went close with a long range effort.
In the 19th minute, Rocky Callisto was very harshly penalised and booked for a foul on the edge of the area. Fausto Erba's free kick was saved superbly by Isaac Carmody.
A quick start to the second half saw MetroStars take the lead. Nahuel Bonada received the ball at the top of the box and he unselfishly spread it wide for Esposito whose shot squirmed under goalkeeper Harpas.
Olympic began their fightback and were level on 70 minutes. Mamadi Kamara whipped a ball in from the edge of the area and Alexandros Koutoulogenis was the first to the ball with his header powered past Isaac Carmody.
Robbie Saraceno responded by bringing on forward Dylan Smith for young midfielder Hamish Gow.
Esposito was brought down cynically by Kamara just inside Metro's attacking half. Anthony Solagna floated a ball in which Bonada was able to lay off with his chest to Christian Esposito. The Olympic defence allowed him to let ball bounce and Esposito responded by unleashing a truly spectacular half volley which flew into the top right corner of the goal.
Olympic pressed for another equaliser in their third game in seven days but could not not break through.
Luis Beneditti replaced match winner Esposito late on for his debut as MetroStars held on for a famous win.
Meanwhile Adelaide Comets will have to pick themselves up after coming off a 2-0 loss away to Campbelltown City in the second leg of their Major Semi Final.
Comets went into the game with a 1-0 aggregate lead following the first leg and knew a clean sheet would be enough to send them to the Grand Final.
However Joel Allwright gave Campbelltown the lead on 27 minutes to level the tie up.
Substitute Jacob Williams put the Premiers into the Grand Final with a superb finish with 11 minutes remaining.
Comets interim coach Kon Antoniou will take confidence in the fact that his Comets side are unbeaten at the SA Athletics Stadium this season, having spent the first half of 2019 playing out of Jack Smith.
Michael D'Aloisio and Dylan Smith are fit to play after both coming on as second half substitutes against Raiders. Fabian Barbiero is back in the squad following suspension. Lachlan Barr is a possibility to be included on the bench after returning to training this week. Tom Strain is still unlikely to feature due to injury. Justin Davis and Matt Charalambous are both out with season ending injuries.
The winner of Saturday's Preliminary Final will go onto the face Campbelltown City in the Grand Final at Coopers Stadium .
MetroStars Squad: 1. Isaac Carmody, 3. Cohan Morris, 6. Lachlan Barr, 7. Michael D'Aloisio (c), 10. Anthony Solagna, 12. Benjamin Head, 15. Liam Wooding, 16. Alexander Jakob, 17. Matthew Dawber, 18. Fabian Barbiero, 19. Cooper O’Donnell, 20. Luis Beneditti, 22. Hamish Gow, 23. Christian Esposito, 24. Nahuel Bonada 25. Jackson O’Donnell, 26. Stefan Cali, 45. Jayden Spruyt
Adelaide Comets Squad: 1. Julian Torresan (GK), 2. Harry Keramidas, 4. Tom Dittmar, 5. Adam Le Cornu, 6. Jack Bladen, 9. Andreas Wiens, 11 Jayden Lobasso, 12 Tete Yengi, 13. Jon Aurtenetxe Borde, 14. Nathan Andijanto, 17 Franz Pjetri, 18. Stefan Simic, 22. Allan Welsh (C), 23. Scott Nagel
Liam Wooding was superb in midfield against Adelaide Olympic. Photo credit: Adam Butler
Form (last 5 games):
Adelaide Olympic 1-2 MetroStars
Raiders 0-4 MetroStars
West Adelaide 0-4 MetroStars
MetroStars 4-2 Adelaide City
Adelaide Blue Eagles 0-2 MetroStars
Campbelltown City 2-0 Adelaide Comets
Adelaide Comets 1-0 Campbelltown City
Adelaide City 1-2 Adelaide Comets
Adelaide Comets 4-1 Campbelltown City
Croydon Kings 0-0 Adelaide Comets
Last 5 meetings:
29.6.19 - MetroStars 1-1 Adelaide Comets
16.3.19 - Adelaide Comets 1-4 MetroStars
6.7.18 - Adelaide Comets 1-1 MetroStars
31.3.18 - MetroStars 3-2 Adelaide Comets
17.7.17 - MetroStars 2-1 Adelaide Comets
10.3.17 - Adelaide Comets 1-2 MetroStars
MetroStars are on a five game winning streak Photo credit: Adam Butler
Come and join us Saturday afternoon for a massive game of football! Alternatively, you can follow live updates on our Twitter @NE_MetroStars or by using the hashtag #MetroStars.
Daniel Elder - Referee
Torin Cooper - Assistant Referee 1
TBA - Assistant Referee 2
Christian Verdicchio - 4th Official
Adelaide Comets vs. MetroStars
Saturday 7th September - 2:30PM
Under 18 | MetroStars vs. Campbelltown City 9:30AM
SA Athletics Stadium, Mile End