An injury plagued season saw North Eastern MetroStars sneak into the Finals Series on the last day before ultimately being knocked at the Preliminary Final stage for third year running.
MetroStars kicked off the season with a 2-1 win away to Para Hills Knights. Due to the redevelopments at T.K. Shutter Reserve, the first half of the season saw us play games away from home for the first nine rounds. Adelaide Olympic were too hot to handle in Round 2, overcoming MetroStars 3-1.
The next two rounds saw us put four goals past South Adelaide (4-0) and Adelaide Comets (4-1) before a tough 1-1 draw with top of the table Croydon Kings. Two losses followed, firstly away to NPL Champions Campbelltown City (0-2) and then the Adelaide United youth team (2-3).
The following week our FFA Cup campaign began with our first home game of the season against State League 1 side Sturt Lions. 1-1 was the final result as the sides were unable to be separated at the end of extra time. Goalkeeper Jackson O’Donnell was the penalty shootout hero and helped Metro book their spot into the next round.
We followed this result with a very hard fought 1-0 win away to Raiders in Round 8, Dylan Smith producing an 85th minute winner.
The following week saw us back in FFA Cup action and we progressed with another 2-1 win away to Para Hills, Cohan Morris popping up with a 70th minute winner.
Round 9 of the NPL saw MetroStars comfortably dismantle West Adelaide 4-1 at T.K. Shutter Reserve, Dylan Smith this time grabbing himself two goals.
Round 10 saw a depleted MetroStars team go down 1-0 to Adelaide City in a Friday night game at Oakden. Matthew Dawber was forced off early, Tom Strain had to substituted at half time and Dylan Smith not soon after that. Another blow was an unexplainable red card to captain Michael D’Aloisio seconds before the final whistle. One positive from the night however was the first team debut and performance of Rising Star Cooper O’Donnell.
4 days on from the defeat at Adelaide City, we travelled to Argana Park to face SAASL Sunday Division 1 champions Elizabeth Downs in the FFA Cup. MetroStars went into this game without a recognised striker as Tom Strain, Dylan Smith, Christian Esposito were all unavailable through injury while captain Michael D’Aloisio was suspended. MetroStars went in 2-1 up at half time before conceding two quick goals at the start of the second half. Cooper O’Donnell equalised with 10 minutes remaining, but Downs held on to force a shootout and went onto win 4-2 on penalties. Tim Henderson came on as a second half substitute for his first appearance of the season, following a difficult groin injury.
The FFA Cup exit was a devastating blow for Metro but we knew the next 10 out of 12 games would be at home. MetroStars picked themselves up with two convincing homes at home to Para Hills (4-1) and Adelaide Blue Eagles (5-0). Liam Wooding returned to the club from South Adelaide and striker Nahuel Bonada arrived from West Adelaide. Draws with Adelaide United (1-1), South Adelaide (3-3) and Adelaide Comets 1-1 followed.
A difficult spell of losses than came as Croydon Kings (1-4), Campbelltown City (1-2), Adelaide Olympic (1-2) and Raiders (0-2) all left T.K. Shutter Reserve with 3 points. In this time we lost Justin Davis to a devastating ACL injury, so Cooper O’Donnell stepped up to fill the right back position and performed admirably.
Round 20 of the NPL saw us earn a 2-0 win over 10 man Adelaide Blue Eagles at Marden. A quick start to the game saw new signing Nauel Bonada got his first goal for the club in the very first minute of the game. Issaac Carmody make a brilliant penalty save just before half time. Substitute Hamish Gow sealed the win.
The following week we disposed of Adelaide City in a pulsating 4-2 win. Eventual Club Champion Fabian Barbiero dominated the midfielder as Nahel Bonada cancelled out Fabio Ferreira's opener before Matthew Dawber put Metro ahead at the break. Christian Esposito grabbed himself a brace to confirm a win in our final official home game of the season.
In the final round of the regular season, we needed a win against West Adelaide and a result in one of the other games to ensured of a finals spot. Due to West Adelaide's home ground being unavailable, MetroStars hosted the game at T.K. Shutter Reserve. First half goals from Liam Wooding, Nahuel Bonada, Matthew Dawber and Christian Esposito gave us a 4-0 win. The result was marred by a second half red card to Barbiero which meant he would miss the first two games of the Finals Series.
The first week of finals saw us come up against Raiders at the Croatian Sports Centre. Fantastic goals from Esposito (2), Dawber and Gow gave us a brilliant 4-0 win. The next round of finals saw us take on Adelaide Olympic in an Elimination Final. Christian Esposito opened the scoring before Koutoulogenis leveled it up for Olympic. 10 minutes from time, Esposito unleashed a ferocious volley into the top right hand corner to send MetroStars into the Preliminary Final.
It was one step too far for Metro in the Preliminary Final, Kon Antoniou's Adelaide Comets side defeated MetroStars 4-0 at the SA Athletics Stadium, and moved into the Grand Final.