Adelaide Hills Hawks travelled to Adelaide City Park to take on NPL side, Adelaide City, in the second round of the FFA Cup. With 75 years’ of history and trophy cabinets full of silverware, the former National League club were expected to be a tough opponent for the Adelaide Hills Hawks outfit.
Hawks Coach, Fraser Keegan, made two changes to the starting line up from the previous week, bringing in newcomer and former Birkalla player, Scott Harrison, to the centre of midfield and Adam Tredrea on the left wing. Joining Harrison in the midfield was Danny Pauli and Mitch Keegan, with Sam Thomas on the right wing and Ollie Grant up front. Captain Nathan Elliott held the Hawks back line along with Goalkeeper Connor Hudson, Jake Loechel, Jared Daly and Nick Walker.
Hawks started strong, defending stoutly, holding possession for long periods and making forays into City’s half. Against the odds, it was Hawks that scored first in the match. In the 18th minute Elliott hit a beautifully weighted ball, finding the head of Grant. Grant flicked the ball on for Tredrea on the left wing with Tredrea controlling the ball, cutting inside and beating his marker before shooting at goal. The City ‘keeper got a hand to the ball but it wasn’t enough and the quick thinking Tredea ran on to follow up and place the ball into the back of the net, silencing City’s home crowd.
Adelaide City created some chances of their own but the Hawks defence held strong and in the 35th minute, through some beautiful interchange play between Keegan and Tredrea, Treadrea scored again. Tredrea’s second a well executed goal that beat the ‘keeper.
Hawks appeared to be in a good position as the clock ticked down on the first half, holding a two goal advantage, but unfortunately in the 44th minute City capitalised on a rare Hawks defensive error to peg back a goal just before the half time whistle. Nevertheless, Hawks left the pitch feeling on top, having dominated periods of the first 45 minutes against a quality NPL side.
Staring down the barrel of defeat to a State League 1 team, City’s Coach, Paul Pezos, turned to his bench in the break, bringing on their three big guns in Strikers Nicholas Bucco and Joe Costa and central defender Lachlan Barr. Hawks returned to the pitch unchanged and continued to hold strong at the continuation of play.
Frustration mounted for City as they couldn’t penetrate Hawks defence, with the away side displaying resilience and their typical Hawks fighting spirit. It wasn’t until the 57th minute that City equalised from a Corner kick that unfortunately wasn’t cleared properly, with City tapping in the ball from the rebound.
Shortly after, Daly succumbed to a hamstring strain and was replaced by young defender Brodie Dowling. Hawks continued to hold City and took their chances to counter attack when opportunities arose. In the 80th minute, Hawks made their second substitution with Brodie White coming on for Walker.
The game looked like it was heading into extra time to decide who would progress into the next Cup round as the game entered its 90th minute. A testament to Hawks hard work and determination against a tough NPL opponent.
In time added on, it was City that conjured the winning goal, with both City and Hawks spectators suggesting the goal scorer was possibly in an offside position, but the officials deemed it a goal and the score stood, 3-2 to City. Shortly after the whistle blew to signal the end of the game with Adelaide City the winners.
There was much praise and respect from the City opposition to have a team from the Hills come down to match it with one of NPL’s best. Hawks can hold their heads high, demonstrating their entertaining, tough and gritty style of play and never say die attitude, and a much improved performance from the previous week. In an all round good team performance, Hawks’ best were Tredrea, Grant and Elliott.
Hawks return to the Nest on Saturday 1st May with a big 3 pointer against Eastern United, kicking off at 7.00pm.