A physical encounter saw Adelaide United fall 1-2 to Para Hills Knights in Round 16 of the PlayStation 4 National Premier League at The Parks Football Centre on Sunday.
Nathan Konstandopoulos equalised for United with a rocket, following Dylan Centrone’s opener for the Knights.
It was a skirmish for the win as both sides were desperate to be a part of the top six race.
But due to a lapse in Adelaide United’s defence, their leveller was out-weighed by Robbie McDonald’s winner, knocking any chance of a win from United’s grasp.
United kept up with Para Hills’ physicality, but were unable to get another one back for the remainder of the match.
Neither side were able to get on the front foot in the opening minutes, tussling for possession in midfield.
Liam McCabe got through on the right-wing, but his cross had evaded the 18-yard box, causing no threat.
Para Hills suddenly crept towards attack, as Reds ‘keeper, Isaac Richards performed a stunning double-save, punching Yamin Jamal’s threatening effort off the goal-line.
Despite Adelaide’s fierce pressure, Centrone sent his free kick towards a crowded area where Alex Mullen raised, but his header was sent over the bar.
In the 20th minute, Yohei Matsumoto won the ball in the midfield, to swing it over to Centrone who ran into the perfect position and swiftly chip the ball with the wind over Richards to make it 0-1.
The Young Reds needed to get themselves back into the game, and in a desperate attempt, Hamish McCabe’s strike was wide of the post.
Then Kristos Stefanopoulos danced through the Knights’ sturdy defence to assist Liam who was unfortunate for his shot not to be on target.
On the half hour mark, Konstandopoulos put his boot through on a nice strike, but Knights’ shot-stopper, Timothy Ramsey dived to save.
Five minutes into the second-half, Konstandopoulos equalised with his exceptional strike curled into the top-right corner, courtesy of Ryan Strain’s free-kick lay-off.
In the 63rd minute, Strain looked to cause more danger with his set-piece, his free-kick headed for the top corner, but was saved.
Against the run of play in the 69th minute, McDonald slid in with power, forcing the shot past Richards at the tip of the penalty box, after a lovely assist by Andrew Butler, sealing the win.
United had a last-gasp opportunity at the death, but a scramble in the box did not result in an equaliser for the hosts.
Next week, Adelaide United will face a refreshed West Adelaide at Adelaide Shores as they will look to keep themselves from the bottom two. Meanwhile, Para Hills will want to continue their winning form against Adelaide Blue Eagles.