NPL Champs braced for Blacktown battle

MetroStars will look to draw on the experience of winning last year’s PS4 NPL Australian title as they attempt to make their mark in the Westfield FFA Cup.

The South Australian club won their spot in the knockout competition after they were crowned Australia’s best NPL club by claiming the national decider.

They have been draw to face NSW NPL high-flyers Blacktown City in Sydney in the round of 32 on July 29.

Westfield FFA Cup round of 32 draw revealed!

While it’s a tricky road trip for Michael Pirone’s side, it’s a similar situation they encountered in winning the NPL title in 2014.

They beat WA’s Bayswater City, Victoria’s South Melbourne and NSW side Bonnyrigg White Eagles all away from home and are confident they can do it again to stay alive in the FFA Cup.

MetroStars celebrate NPL Grand Final win.

“We had to travel three times last year to win the NPL so we know what to expect,” Pirone told

“But we also know Blacktown is a hard place to go. They are a good club with a lot of history and have had a lot of success.

“They are top of the NSW NPL, are a good football team with a lot of talent and six or seven players with experience of the A-League and recent experience as well.

“It’s not easy to play there so we know we’re going to be up against it.

“We welcome the challenge, the boys will definitely be up for it. Our domestic form is what got us here. We have some experienced guys who know what it takes to win and be successful.” 

After their stunning exploits of 2014, MetroStars have struggled to recapture the same form that saw them sweep all before them last season.

They are currently seventh in the South Australian PS4 NPL but seem to have turned the corner recently, losing just one of their last nine matches.

“We’ve struggled with injuries and work commitments this season but things are starting to turn for us,” said Pirone, in his first season in charge after taking the reins from Ivan Karlovic.

“We’ve been really focused on the NPL but since the draw you naturally start to turn your attention to the FFA Cup.

“You’d be lying if you said it wasn’t in the back of the players’ minds. It’s not going to be easy but this is why you play to be involved in these games.

“The boys want to do well and get through because you might not get to play in something like this again. There’s a real wave of excitement through the club from the junior teams right through to the seniors.”

While Pirone has been forced to blood a lot of young talent this season, the side will rely heavily on their experienced stars to help them get over Blacktown.

They have Hyundai A-League experience is ex-Adelaide United duo Fabian Barbiero and Adam van Dommele, Scott Tunbridge had time with Newcastle Jets while youngsters Perry Mitris and Liam Wooding were part of the Reds’ youth set-up.

The form of Mitris and Barbiero ensures the MetroStars have the attacking arsenal to topple Blacktown but Pirone believes defensive stability will be the key to success.

Perry Mitris of MetroStars.

“I’m of the belief that if you don’t concede, you don’t lose. We’ve got the [third] best defensive record in the [South Australian] NPL,” he said.

“We haven’t scored a lot of goals but it’s down to the fact we’ve had a lot of injuries in those areas.

“Blacktown like to play really open with the players they have…we’re going away from home and we have to be disciplined.

“If we defend well I’m quietly confident.”