Adelaide Blue Eagles secured their place in the second week of the South Australia NPL finals series with a 3-0 win over Adelaide Comets at Marden Sports Complex.
Alemayo Kebede, Sheku Saccoh and Damien Crettenden all scored second half goals to bring an end to Adelaide Comets’ season.
However, Comets started off brightly, with winger Matthew Bouzalas cutting past a defender on the byline, before striking the outside of the post from a tight angle.
In the 26th minute, Comets keeper Lucas Andreucci was forced into a fingertip save by a dipping cross-turn-shot by Yvan Boyokino.
Evan Ramos found himself one-on-one with Blue Eagles keeper Michael Catford just before half time, but the young shot stopper was quick off his life to block the full back’s shot.
Early in the second half, Blue Eagles centre back Milos Tosic sent a delightful ball over the top of the Comets backline to put Kym Harris through on goal, but Andreucci pulled off a good save to deny the striker.
But Blue Eagles got their goal in the 56th minute when Kebede weaved his way into the penalty area, before firing into the bottom corner.
With under 15 minutes to go, twins Adam and Kym Harris both had chances to extend the home side’s lead, but Andreucci kept his team in the game with two fine saves.
However, Andreucci could do nothing to stop Blue Eagles’ second goal in the 87th minute, with Crettenden slipping Saccoh through on goal, who calmly slotted past the keeper.
Blue Eagles went searching for a third in injury time, but Kebede was denied by the crossbar and young striker Anthony Dimas saw a late effort blocked by Andreucci.
Crettenden did get a third for the hosts though, tapping in a Kym Harris cut back to seal his team’s progression.
Striker Kym Harris said his team put in a very good performance on Sunday.
“Finals games are pretty interesting because anything can happen, but we put in a 90-minute performance. The defence held up really well and we scored a few goals,” he said.
“We knew that if we kept pushing, we would get a few more chances. In that second half, I think we just overran them and we took our chances when we had them.”
Blue Eagles now take on Croydon Kings – who knocked out Adelaide City with a 4-0 win – at Polonia Reserve next Saturday.
“Croydon is going to be very, very tough. We’re going to have to do the same as last week, but more,” Harris said.
“They are going to be very fit and strong, so we’re going to have to take our chances when we get them and work hard as a team and hopefully that will be enough.”
Despite the loss, Comets coach Jim Karatzas said it has been a very good season for the club.
“We actually played very well in the first half. We could have easily been 2-0 up at half time, but in the second half a couple of errors in central areas cost us a couple of goals,” he said.
“This season has been a step forward in establishing ourselves in the Premier League as a club that is both respected and feared.
“The boys have done really, really well, but I think they lacked a little bit of experience in the end. They’re a very young squad and when the chips were down, they didn’t have that experience and calmness.”
Karatzas said Comets aim to keep a stable squad, making minimal changes to this season’s team.
“We’ll keep giving youngsters chances, as we have done this year and build from within, rather than outside,” Karatzas said.
Image courtesy of Chris Kelly