In the 92nd minute, Nicholas Bucco fired a blistering strike from twenty metres which had Croydon keeper Munro scrambling to the corner, only to see the ball cannon of the woodwork into the path of Mileusnic who slotted the ball home from close range to give City a vital victory.
By Joe Pangallo 5RTI Sports – 531AM
In an intriguing encounter between two sides with different causes, Croydon Kings seeking to clear the relegation zone and Adelaide City looking to stay adrift at the top of the ladder, it took a 92nd minute Adelaide City goal to separate the two sides in the Round 12 fixture of the PS4 National Premier League South Australia.
The match was played like an old fashioned arm wrestle. The first ten minutes of the first half was an even tussle as the ball moved up and down the park with no real threat by either team.
Adelaide City got into gear after a quarter of an hour of play, when Nicholas Bucco, Jordan Pudler, and Thomas Love began to find plenty of the ball. The service the trio were providing Nicola Mileusnic, and Mamadi Kamara on the wings was putting immense pressure on the Croydon defenders.
The Adelaide City forwards were marauding their forward half in search of a score. They had two golden opportunities to open the scoring, the first in the 17’ when Mileusnic drove a low shot just wide of the upright and then moments later Bucco weighted a beautiful cross into the path of the leading goal scorer of the competition Anthony Costa but his first time strike was well saved by Croydon’s keeper Nicholas Munro.
City continued to press high forcing Croydon to defend frantically, John Panagaris was having a great duel with Kamara, while Nathan Farrell at his rock solid best, Steven Pepper, and Dion Gazettas were doing well to repel City’s forward thrusts.
In the shades of halftime two gild edge chances fell to Mileusnic, both headers from close range, both chances glancing the cross bar.
Croydon always looked threatening on the break even if it was on the rare occasion. And they nearly caught City napping in injury time when a clever one- two pass between James Skeffington and Elvis Kamsoba saw James Skeffington run into the box but his shot, (which had City Keeper Ryan Veitch well beaten) to the open side grazed the up right to the sigh of the crowd.
Adelaide City who dominated proceedings in the first 45 minutes, squandered numerous opportunities in front of goal which gave Croydon some hope going into the sheds for the halftime break.
The second half was a complete reversal, as Croydon came out with more intent. Rocky Visconte who was well shadowed in the first half began to exert more influence on the contest. His clean possessions and silky moves bought players like Kamsoba, Skeffington and Luke Klimek into the game.
It was City’s turn to defend as Croydon were asking a lot of questions of the City defence in search of that elusive goal. Paul Blefari, Shane Tobias and Mathew Halliday were being put under enormous pressure.
A 51’ minute long range shot by Visconte which shaved the cross bar and a 55’ free header by Panagaris from a corner that Veitch did well to flip over the bar, had the City coaching box on edge.
City coach Damian Mori went to his bench in search for inspiration. The injection of Alex Sunasky freed up Bucco in the midfield, and he was able to get himself back into the game and slowly give City some much needed momentum.
The Adelaide City faithful thought their side got one goal up in the 75’ when a piece of magic by Bucco found Joel Allwright on the move at the edge of the eighteen-yard box. Allwright picked his mark and the ball sailed into the back of the net to the cheer of the City crowd, only to be ruled off side by the referee’s assistant.
Croydon and city continued to create chances at both ends of the park, but the respective keepers were doing their best to keep a clean sheet.
A bit of brilliance was what it would take to break the parity between two desperate sides. And in the 92’ who other than the maestro Bucco whose blistering strike from twenty metres had Munro scrambling to the corner, only to see the ball cannon of the woodwork into the path of Mileusnic who slotted the ball home from close range to give City a vital victory.
A relieved Nicholas Bucco said after the game that they failed to put Croydon away in the first half and left the door ajar to give Croydon some hope.
“We had numerous opportunities in the first half but we just couldn’t convert. We knew a goal was coming but to their credit they defended well,” Bucco said.
“Croydon came out after the break with renewed confidence and we saw the game slowly slip away from us, but some good tactical moves from the bench saw us gain momentum late in the half. Luckily we were able to score the winner before the final whistle.”
Croydon Kings prized midfielder Rocky Visconte lamented after the game of the vital points the side let slip again late in the match. An infectious pattern that has crept into their game of late.
“We let them get away from us in the first half but they weren’t able to hurt us on the scoreboard,” Visconte said.
“We fought back in the second half and got on top of them, but we couldn’t convert our chances.
“They are on top of the ladder for a reason; if you give them half a chance they will punish you. We have to put this behind us and look forward to our next challenge, as we fight to avoid relegation.”
With the cup round next week, both teams have plenty of time to reassess their current plight, in the context of the season
Written by: Joe Pangallo 5RTI Sports – 531AM