Croydon move a step closer to season decider

Croydon Kings scored a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Adelaide Blue Eagles at Polonia Reserve to move into the third week of the South Australia NPL finals series.

Luke Klimek, Andreas Weins, Shaun McGreevy and Allan Welsh scored for the home side, while Calvin Mbarga got Blue Eagles’ only goal.

Klimek opened the scoring in the 36th minute, finding space in the visitors’ 18-yard box, before slotting into the far bottom corner.

Croydon doubled their lead three minutes later when McGreevy cut the ball across the penalty area to Weins, who tapped into an empty net.

Blue Eagles came out firing in the second half and took just seven minutes to get themselves back into the game.

Mbarga met a perfectly weighted Yvan Boyokino cross with an acrobatic volley from close range to cut Croydon’s lead in half.

But Croydon regained control soon after and almost restored their two-goal lead, only for Nathan Farrell’s effort to be denied by Alemayo Kebede on the goal line.

Croydon got their third in the 71st minute though, with a scramble in the middle of the park falling to McGreevy, who slotted past Blue Eagles keeper Michael Catford.

Croydon secured the win two minutes later, with defender Welsh finding himself alone in front of Catford, before calmly tapping into the bottom corner.

Croydon now take on West Adelaide at Adelaide Shores Football Centre for a spot in the SA NPL grand final against premiers MetroStars.

The win comes a week after Croydon’s 4-0 victory over Adelaide City, but captain Luke Klimek said his team has prepared no differently for their finals matches.

“We pressed Blue Eagles pretty well when they had the ball and we doubled up on a few of their players,” Klimek said.

“We’ve maintained pretty much the same schedule as the whole year. We’ve maybe shortened up the sessions and sharpened them up a little bit more.”

Klimek said Croydon would need to play the same way against West Adelaide next week.

“I think we’ve just got to continue like we have been in the last two games. When we’ve got the ball, we have to play our style of passing and quick attacking game.”

Blue Eagles season is effectively over, ending the campaign in fourth position.

Vice-captain Christopher Annicchiarico said Blue Eagles lacked the intensity required in finals football.

“We were second to the ball and we made poor decisions, but credit to Croydon, they put us under the pump from the first whistle,” Annicchiarico said.

“Having been turfed out in the second week of finals, we feel that we have underachieved.

“We had high hopes this year and backed ourselves in the finals series, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”

Annicchiarico pinpointed consistency as the area in which Blue Eagles must improve next season.

“Too many times this year we backed up a good win with a poor performance the following week, dropping points in games that we should have won,” he said.

“This cost us a top two place in the league and the double chance in the finals.”

Image courtesy of Adam Butler