Adelaide United’s Youth Team and Croydon Kings have played out a 1-1 draw in Round 5 of the National Premier League at Polonia Reserve on Saturday afternoon.
The Young Reds gave their best performance of their 2016 National Premier League (NPL) season, after a hard fought battle with the Croydon Kings, denying their opponents any chance to extend their lead and coming back with an equaliser through Johnny Koutroumbis, their continuous push on attack paying off in the dying minutes.
Adelaide United started the first half off with early control of the ball and precise passing but soon switched to an even sided game which caused both sides to have many opportunities on goal and plenty of play that was seen in midfield. Goalkeepers Daniel Margush for the Young Reds, and Nicholas Munro for Croydon Kings worked tirelessly the full 90 minutes to keep their teams in the game.
Early teamwork gave the Young Reds their first chance on goal through Captain, Dylan Smith, in the 9th minute, as his through ball found Alec Maiolo who sent it to Mark Ochieng but his shot goes over the crossbar. In the 14th minute, Smith finds Maiolo once again, who took his chance to score but goes wide.
Croydon Kings also put forth their own pressure and attack, but the return of Ben Warland from suspension gave the Young Reds’ depth in defense. Both sides continued to work hard to win the ball, becoming a physical battle which leaded to Jordan Elliott booked for a yellow card in the 21st minute.
The score line remained nil-all throughout the first half, as Daniel Margush and Nicholas Munro kept up with their fantastic saves, and good defensive work from Ruon Tongyik and Riley Mcgree with strong tackles and interceptions. The pressure began to show once more, as Samed Altundag was also booked for a foul.
The 38th minute showed Mark Ochieng pass to Mcgree, whose promising shot goes wide off the mark. Mcgree then answers back with a run in the 42nd minute who then found Altundag who took the Reds’ first shot on target straight in the hands of Munro. More chances were created but neither side were able to register on the score line.
It was more of the same after the restart, as Croydon began to burst out of the blocks when Rocky Visconte and Frank Marafioti created a chance for a promising shot on goal in the 52nd minute and again in the 54th minute through Shaun Mcgreevy and Marafioti. Four minutes later, Ochieng tried to give his team the lead, but again going wide just outside of the post.
After countless chances from both sides, Marafioti finally gets past Margush in the 71st minute with a well-timed shot. The Young Reds stayed hungry for an equaliser as they continued to keep the ball in the final third, Smith and substitutes Jordan O’Doherty and Blake Carpenter proved too strong for Croydon’s defenders. Their hard work payed off by a long accurate ball from Smith, for Koutroumbis to header it in fantastically.
Following the match, Head Coach, Mark Jones, was pleased with his team’s performance, commenting on the way they worked solidly for 90 minutes.
“I thought it was our best performance and it would have been very unfortunate if we lost,” Jones said. “It was the most complete performance in terms of keeping our shape, structure and discipline.
“They worked hard for 90 minutes, but just happened to switch off once on the goal, and a couple of little occasions but in general that was the most we’ve controlled a game and kept composure.
“I was pleased to get the equaliser in the end, as it was much deserved and the work rate of Johnny Koutroumbis represents what this team is all about and what we strive for, his goal was magnificent.
“We’ll have to work on accurately making that last pass in the final third, as we had numbers and opportunities but we just weren’t composed enough or had enough silk or class to finish.
“Defensively we were okay, and in the air we were caught a few times so we need to become stronger but I thought our structure and shape was the best it has ever been and I hope it remains for our next game against West Adelaide.”