02/03/2024

Craig Goodwin celebrates opening the scoring against Perth Glory (Image: Jordan Trombetta, Adelaide United)

After mixed results in their opening three away games, Carl Veart’s Adelaide United baptised a renovated Cooper Stadium with their first win of the season.

Season 2022/23 has been one of ‘what if’ for Adelaide United so far. Rounds 1 and 2 were characterised by questions on what if the Reds took their chances, while Round 3 was shaped by the erroneous sending-off of Hiroshi Ibusuki.

The Reds’ three-game road trip came to an end when they returned to their refurbished home at Cooper Stadium for their first home game of the season.

While United welcomed Perth Glory on the pitch, Reds fans took in the sights, with a new roof, pitch, screens, lights, press box, PA system, and LEDs improving the experience of all in attendance.

Carl Veart prefaced in his pre-match press conference that his side is making a point of starting the games in a more positive fashion, and that was on display against Perth.

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Reds captain Craig Goodwin was in a mood to impress on Sunday afternoon, with not only his adoring fans watching on but Socceroos coach Graham Arnold surely with an eye on the game with his World Cup squad set to be announced in a week’s time.

A proactive Adelaide side made Perth look flat and 18 minutes into the match a Ben Halloran dink found Goodwin on his favoured left side, where the winger made no mistake finishing past Liam Reddy on a tight angle before running towards the Red Army to celebrate opening his account for the season.

Goodwin’s involvement was not done there, only minutes later floating a dangerous ball to the back post which Ben Warland expertly played across to Hiroshi Ibusuki. The striker passed into an empty net to double the scoring for the home side.

Socceroos hopeful Goodwin remained the architect of most of Adelaide’s good play, with seven key passes to go along with his goal involvements.

After putting his hand up to take an important penalty against Peru and now returning from injury and playing himself into form, Graham Arnold will find it very hard to leave Goodwin off the plane to Qatar.

A Giordano Colli screamer put the Glory on the board, but coach Ruben Zadkovich showed his displeasure with his side, subbing off Zach Duncan for Luke Bodar only half an hour into the encounter for tactical reasons. The Glory finished the half much stronger, but still a goal behind.

Early in the second half, Carl Veart showed that the Reds were switching to game-management mode when Juande was inserted into Adelaide’s midfield to shield the backline alongside Isaias in a defensive double-pivot heavily used last season.

Despite Adelaide taking a more cautious approach, it was unlucky not to find a third, while Perth was held at arm’s length for the majority of the half.

The Juande substitution saw Ben Halloran move back to the right wing after starting the last two games in the attacking midfield spot. Even though Halloran has made a difference in the middle of the park, Adelaide playing much more free-flowing football, and it has felt the absence of the winger out wide.

Carl Veart’s men now move to Melbourne to face Champions Western United. The Reds fell victim to the infamous “One-Nil FC” at AAMI Park in season 2021/22, conceding a goal in the first half and being unable to find the back of the net themselves, but a lot has played out since.

Since that encounter, Adelaide United has discovered a flare for the dramatic, routinely clawing back deficits late in games. Meanwhile, Western United may have won the Championship, but they currently find themselves winless and rooted at the bottom of the ladder four games into the new season, a shade of their stingy 2021/22 best.

The Champions are vulnerable and susceptible to leaking goals, so Adelaide must ensure it enters its Round 5 clash with an intent to put John Aloisi’s side under pressure, one that was lacking in 2021.

As the Mariners can vouch, Western United is more than good enough to make their opposition hurt on the counter, but unlike their Championship winning season it can’t seem to keep the goals out.

Adelaide is beginning to gel and Craig Goodwin is seemingly back to his best with only one game to go before Graham Arnold makes his final squad selection for the World Cup.

The Reds can make a huge statement by returning to a scene of disappointment from the previous campaign, piling on the misery to the Champions, but to do that they must be wary of a strong side that is desperately searching for a positive performance to kick-start the faltering defence of its crown.

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