WT Birkalla 2 – Adelaide Blue Eagles 1

Paul Radice opened the scoring for Birkalla with a superb finish inside 10 minutes, however Blue Eagles were back on level terms just before half-time through Samuel Tesfagabr.

Substitute William Plush grabbed the decisive goal with seven minutes remaining to send Birkalla into back-to-back Preliminary Finals.

Birkalla coach Steve De Giovanniello said the team will take confidence into their important match against Campbelltown City.

“We are really happy and it was a much better performance than last week,” he said.

“The group is very confident after this win. Last year we fell at that hurdle [Preliminary Final]. Many players are still here and still feel that hurt.

“I thought we had the better of the first 20 minutes and then Blue Eagles came into the game and started to put us under pressure. They didn’t create too many chances, but just pinned us back.

“I said to the guys at half-time that we weren’t getting on top in midfield and were sitting too deep. We played higher up the park in the second half.

“We can work on keeping the ball for longer periods. When we do that we can get our danger players more involved.”

Adelaide Blue Eagles winger Evan Kounavelis said the season did not meet expectations.

“We are really upset to go out like that, we thought we could get the win,” he said.

“All credit to Birkalla. By second half chances created I think they deserved it.

“In the first half we were really good. We played the ball around and while we didn’t have too many chances, I thought we dominated. They got on top in the second half. They won the midfield battle.

“We want to be coming top two, so we are disappointed with the season. We have the squad to be in the top two. I’m not sure what it comes down to, not good enough in the end I guess.”

Radice scored an amazing opening goal after only eight minutes, latching on to a loose ball with an outside of the foot shot which arrowed into the top corner.

Mattia Perrotti almost brought Blue Eagles back into the contest, but his shot on the turn ended the wrong side of the post.

Radice picked up possession following an intercepted Pedram Sourjani clearance and chipped to the back post, only for the ball to hit the woodwork and be cleared.

The teams went into the break deadlocked as Tesfagabr climbed highest to powerfully head in Perrotti’s corner.

Yet the home side should have been ahead. Fumiya Suzuki burst through the Blue Eagles defence to connect with a through pass and after his first touch took him around Sourjani he knocked the ball over an empty net.

Matthew Dawber’s loose pass was almost punished just prior to the hour mark, however Radice prodded his shot agonisingly wide of the post.

A lightning-quick Birkalla counter-attack saw Sourjani come out to smother another Radice effort, with Lawrence D’Arrigo spooning the rebound over the top.

Suzuki superbly controlled a long ball and then forced a fine save from Sourjani as Birkalla started to take command.

Birkalla’s pressure paid off when Suzuki slid the ball through for substitute Plush in the 83rd minute, who helped it past Sourjani into the far corner.

Written by: Luca Cetta

Photo by: Adam Butler