Croydon Kings cast aside any doubts to their credentials with a stunning performance beating the highly fancied Comets 4-2 at SA Athletics Centre on Friday night, and have now booked a preliminary final with Metro who lost 3-1 on aggregate to Adelaide City.
City as minor premier will no doubt be keen to see who their opponent is in the final, as Metro have been less of a problem between the two teams this year with Croydon knocking off City twice this year, the only team to do so.
Back on Friday night – The Kings left off from last week’s scintillating second half against West Adelaide and came out with all guns blazing and took the game on from the opening minutes. However it was Comets who countered and opened the scoring early on through Sean Brennan who pounced on a loose ball in the box and made no mistake in slotting in for a 1-0 lead. But Croydon lifted another gear and equalised shortly after when a great cross found Shaun McGreevy in the area to stab home from close range in a move that left Comets defenders scratching their heads. After some more close chances, Croydon were awarded a penalty after some manhandling in the box and Adrian D’Alfonso stepped up to slam home the spot kick into the roof of the net and Croydon were suddenly in the lead. They kept pressing forward and livewire Pat Caraccia made another dazzling run on the right wing and presented McGreevy with an inch-perfect ground pass which was put away by the striker for his second and Croydon’s third. The half time whistle couldn’t come soon enough for Comets who seemed somewhat shell-shocked and were reduced to some long range shots which were all handled well from Nick Munro in Croydon’s goal.
With such an entertaining first half, the Kings continued with their game plan but predictably slowed the game down wherever possible to force Comets to take risks in the do-or-die elimination final. The game went from end to end and the game suddenly opened up when Comets struck the crossbar with a fierce shot and the rebound was bundled away, but to the amazement of the crowd and players alike, the referee found reason to award Comets a penalty for a supposed push by Kings defender Jarrod Brazzale who was subsequently sent off for his innocuous foul. Allan Welsh scored the spot-kick and suddenly it was game on again with Kings holding sway 3-2 but facing the final 20 minutes with a man down.
Coach Mark Brazzale was quick to act and put sub Michael Doyle on to give some stability to the defence which he mastered well although it was unfortunate to D’Alfonso who had to be sacrificed as part of the tactical move.
With Comets pushing forward in desperation, they were caught out with a Kings defensive clearance which found an unmarked Paul Radice on the left wing half way line who took on the responsibility and with the aid of McGreevy making a dummy run taking away a Comets defender, he expertly sunk his shot into the corner of the net from the edge of the box and it was 4-2 Croydon. The loud and supportive Kings crowd looked at their watches and with only 5 minutes left, the celebrations began when it suddenly kicked in that Croydon Kings were in a preliminary final.
The entire team played well, so well in fact that you could argue for another week who were the better players so let’s just leave it at that and hope we have the same problem identifying the best next week for the same reasons.
The only blot on the game will be that Jarrod’s red card means an automatic one game suspension, so hopefully the boys can do the unthinkable and beat Metro away next week and he can then be back in consideration for the grand final.
Sadly for our Reserves, their season came to an end but not before a fighting effort when they went down 2-1 in extra time to a much older (overall in age) Comets on Saturday afternoon. Comets took the lead early in the second half after a goalless first half and the Kings were up against it, despite having the better of possession and chances on goal to that point. Coach Mick Doyle put Steve Pepper up front after he played centre-back to that point and his influence paid dividends when the Kings equalised with a scrappy but determined last grasp goal in the 90th minute to give us hope again. However in extra time a bizarre penalty award to Comets, one which still has us puzzled to why it was given was slotted home and the Comets held out to win in controversial circumstances. All I can say on the matter is whilst I appreciate the need to develop young referees, finals should be given to those with more experience as howlers like these do have a bigger impact than normal. Let’s congratulate the Ressies team, who are still young and had a great season and were only undone near the end from sheer bad luck and questionable decisions. Hopefully they will learn from the experience and come out stronger in 2018. Thanks again to Mick Doyle and Vince Pittucci, assistant coach, for developing such a great young squad and we hope the boys will stick around the club and push for top honours in the near future.
Polonia Amateurs had a huge win against the high flying Vikings, to the tune of 2-1. They have two games left in the season so we wish them well in their run home.
Pic – courtesy Joe Janko – Paul Radice celebrating a goal against Para Hills a few weeks ago has hit top form and along with fellow striker Shaun McGreevy are scoring when it matters at the business end of the season. Keep it up lads!