Adelaide United showed resilience to pick up its first win on the road this season. Despite a strong start, the Roar’s midfield and final third issues continue being costly.
Many would have predicted that this would be a cagy affair between two sides who are trying to piece their best football together and get points on the board. That premise only lasted two minutes when a mistake changed the mentality of both sides and shaped and entertaining game of football.
After picking up its first win of the season on Wednesday night against the Glory, Brisbane roared into a strong start, with Jay O’Shea catching Joe Gauci off his line but subsequently putting the ball wide of the keeper’s post.
That warning was followed by consequences, as the Roar were not to be denied much longer as United defender Jacob Tratt took an errant touch that invited former Red Nikola Mileusnic in to slot the opener past Gauci.
A resilient United side recovered from a catastrophic start to take control of the game, owning 73 per cent of the possession, a lot in threatening positions, during the first 26 minutes of the first half.
The Reds once again showed resilience, and as they did last week against City, kept pilling on the pressure in search for an equaliser. The lucky break came when Bernardo lost possession to a Brisbane tackle, with the ball ricocheting to the extended arm of an unsuspecting Scott Neville.
Craig Goodwin stepped up for the penalty and showed his own quality and resilience to put the penalty away, despite Tom Glover saving his effort from the spot last week. Goodwin will be a big loss for Carl Veart’s side as he joins Graham Arnold’s Socceroos in recognition of his strong form the past month.
The second half began with another story of resilience. Two minutes into the second half, often maligned winger-turned-fullback Ryan Kitto drove into the box before his leg was collected by a Brisbane player to earn United another penalty.
Kitto’s recent move to left back has been a fruitful one for United on the pitch. The fullback has earned a consistent starting XI position and and has combined with winger Craig Goodwin to strong effect in United’s left side, a move that has coincided with Goodwin rediscovering his best form.
He is evidently enjoying his football, a sentiment he echoed last week.
“I’m just enjoying it [his move to fullback]. I think it comes down to the environment I’m in. I love my teammates, I love my coaches, it’s probably the happiest I’ve been playing football for a long time,” Kitto remarked.
In a move that raised eyebrows, regular penalty taker Goodwin handed United’s second penalty of the night to captain Stefan Mauk. The move paid dividends with Mauk sending Macklin Freke the wrong way to score United’s second, angering the fans of his former employers in the process.
An early goal to start the second half once again changed the mentality of both sides, with United happy sit back and absorb pressure in the lead while Brisbane chased an equaliser, just as the Reds did for most of the first half.
Despite United’s change of mentality succeeding, it had an effect on the impact of half time substitute and last week’s hero Hiroshi Ibusuki. With the Reds reluctant to continue their attacking, cross heavy game style, the Japanese striker, standing at 196 centimetres tall, was largely ineffective, with his side not playing to his strengths.
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The onus was on Brisbane to force an equaliser, something that they have struggled to do this season.
Despite the fact that Brisbane needed to push for a goal, United was quite comfortable sitting back and absorbing the pressure, with Gauci going untested for the majority of the second half.
It could be put down to the Roar playing their fourth game in 11 days and missing players like Juan Lescano and Alex Parsons. But the fact remains that Brisbane has had issues going forward all season, not finding the net multiple times in a game in any of its seven A-League Men games this season.
A positive for Brisbane is that substitute Jez Lofthouse looked dangerous in his cameo off the bench. With not much working in Brisbane’s final third, Warren Moon could do a lot worse than to give the 22-year-old more game time going forward.
Brisbane’s inability to convert in the final third was punished by Goodwin once again, this time on the counter. A composed Goodwin caught out the Roar defence by cutting onto his weaker right foot and scoring United’s third.
The win shoots United up into the top six; it is important to remember that the Reds are the only side in the league that has played nine matches.
Veart would be hoping that his side has settled into the style of play he expects of them. It is now up to the Reds to continue being resilient and picking up the wins if they are to finish the season in the much coveted top six.
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