A drama packed match saw Adelaide City unable to add to their trophy collection after a gutting 2-1 Grand Final defeat at the hands of the Croydon Kings at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night.
By Michael Barbaro
It was an unfortunate and tough result for City, who were undoubtedly the best team in the league this year.
The game started off fiery; both teams conservatively not allowing the opponent to fashion any real opportunities.
Neither side created clear cut chances in the opening half hour but it was City who were closest to breaking the deadlock when Anthony Costa was denied from point blank range.
Joseph Costa’s initial shot was spilled by Nick Munro before brother Anthony’s follow-up from inside the six-yard box was heroically saved by the Croydon goalkeeper.
Shaun McGreevy then found space and unleashed a shot that whistled just inches above the crossbar.
The sides went in level at half-time, and after the break the game frantically opened up.
City were awarded a free-kick from 35 yards and specialist Nic Bucco stepped up to take the set-piece.
The midfielder unleashed a bullet of a strike that scraped the top of the upright, coming within inches of opening the scoring.
However, it was Croydon who grabbed the first goal of the game through striker Paul Radice in the 69th minute.
Radice gathered the ball outside the penalty area before unleashing a drive that struck the inside of the post and into the net, beating City’s Ryan Veitch to put the Kings 1-0 up.
However, City pegged back ten minutes later in controversial yet spectacular fashion.
Anthony Costa tried to round Munro, but the goalkeeper clipped his ankles and City were awarded a penalty while Munro was cautioned.
Nic Bucco stepped up and had his penalty saved by Munro but the assistant referee flagged and it appeared that Munro had stepped off his line before the ball was struck.
Bucco was able to retake the penalty, not before Munro was booked again and subsequently red-carded for dissent, and sent substitute Costa Zacharopoulos the wrong way and levelling the scoreline.
Croydon, however, four minutes from time retook the lead, through last week’s hero Shaun McGreevy, who pounced on a defensive mishap.
It wasn’t to be for City and another tough result for Mori’s men, who now look to next weekend’s National Premier League Quarter Final, where they will face off against NSW Premiers APIA Leichardt (who themselves were defeated in the weekend’s Grand Final) at Adelaide City Park.