Adelaide roar back into form with comprehensive victory over Newcastle

Adelaide United have snapped a three game losing streak by recording a much-needed 3-1 victory over Newcastle Jets at Coopers Stadium.

Hiroshi Ibusuki marked his return to the starting lineup by opening the scoring on Friday night, before Zach Clough and Ben Halloran found the net in the second-half.

Jets youngster Justin Vidic fired home his first senior goal, but it was merely a consolation as Adelaide held on to the all three points in the club’s 500th Isuzu UTE A-League match.

The win fired the Reds back into the top six for the time being, with Carl Veart’s side sitting in sixth, two points clear of Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne City; the latter are in action tomorrow in the Melbourne Derby.

Newcastle, meanwhile, sit four points outside the top six, unable to build off the momentum generated in the fortnight prior to their trip to Adelaide.

In a further blow for the Jets, they will be sweating on the fitness of Reno Piscopo after he was forced off the field with a suspected groin injury in the first-half.

Veart made an intriguing change to his starting lineup heading into the game, shifting from his tried-and-trusted 4-2-3-1 formation, and going to a 4-2-2-2, playing Ibusuki alongside Jovanovic up front.

The Reds were immediately on the front-foot and fired the first quality chance as Jonny Yull flashed his half volley wide of the mark after 11 minutes.

Newcastle, however, posed a threat on the counter and almost took the lead from their only chance in the first-half. Piscopo broke in behind the Reds defence and had the goal at his mercy, but the Jets attacking midfielder was denied by an on-rushing Joe Gauci.

And Adelaide made them pay back the other way. Ryan Kitto feed through Luka Jovanovic, who cut the ball back to Ibusuki and the Japanese striker made no mistake.

However, the flag was up immediately due to Jovanovic being deemed offside in the build-up, but play was brought to a standstill as the VAR checked whether the teenage striker was offside.

During the break, Piscopo was subbed from the field, after pulling up lame and holding his groin following his shot on goal.

Seconds later, the initial decision was overturned and Ibusuki’s goal stood, as a result of Mark Natta’s right foot just playing Jovanovic onside.

Adelaide had a head full of steam following the opener and Isaias tried his luck twice from range; first, hitting the post and then, forcing a superb save from Ryan Scott.

Newcastle finally hit their straps after half-time and begun to put the pressure on the Reds defence as the likes of Clayton Taylor and Apostolos Stamatelopoulos had chances to pull one back.

But that’s as far as it would go as the Reds continued to pose a threat back the other way, inspired by a host of second-half substitutes.

Veart threw on Ben Halloran and teenage star Nestory Irankunda as he looked to regain the ascendancy, and the Bayern Munich bound attacker had an immediate impact.

Irankunda chased down Halloran’s cross, beating Lucas Mauragis to the ball and bumping him out of the way, before back heeling it to Clough, who fed Jovanovic, but the teen’s effort on goal spun upwards and hit the bar.

But Adelaide would finally have their second. Referee Ben Abraham pointed to the spot after Phillip Cancar brought Jovanovic down inside the box, leading to Clough squeezing his penalty under Scott and giving the Reds a two-goal advantage.

Minutes later it was three, and it was Irankunda again causing all sorts of havoc. The 18-year-old fed Clough with a lovely flick in behind the Jets defence, with the Englishman’s effort beaten away from Scott, but Halloran was there to volley home.

After a lengthy VAR check for offside, the goal stood, much to the chagrin of the visitors who thought Clough was offside in the build up.

Adelaide weren’t done with yet, and this time it was Kitto looking to get in on the fun, generating an unbelievable stop from Scott with a stinging half-volley as time expired.

But out of nowhere, Vidic – in only his second appearance – brought one back at Hindmarsh, after Archie Goodwin pounced on an Isaias turnover and played through the fellow Jets youngster, who made no mistake with a calmly taken finish.

The talking point

They say football is ‘a game of inches’ and the Hiroshi Ibusuki’s opening goal epitomised said quote perfectly.

The Japanese striker’s strike was initially ruled offside after Luka Jovanovic was deemed offside by the assistant referee in the build-up. However, after a lengthy VAR check, the decision was overturned due to Mark Natta’s right leg playing Jovanovic onside.

The star

Luka Jovanovic was the star of the show on Friday night, thriving alongside Hiroshi Ibusuki in Adelaide United’s new formation.

The Reds coach opted to go to a 4-2-2-2 from the get go, partnering the teenage striker with Ibusuki from the first minute and the move paid immediate dividends. Jovanovic set up Ibusuki for the opener, before winning the penalty that led to Zach Clough slamming home Adelaide’s second.

And had it not been for the post, Jovanovic could have easily had a goal of his own, as he chases his second goal of the season.

“I was used to it (the formation) because, with the Young Socceroos, we played with two strikers,” he told Paramount + post-game, after being awarded the Isuzu UTE Player of the Match.

“So we had a game plan with Hiro (Ibusuki) coming in deep by and me making those forward runs.”

Former Matilda Grace Gill praised Jovanovic’s performance, believing the 18-year-old striker has an enormous future ahead of him.

“I think what’s really nice about talking to players after the game is that this is an 18 year old boy and he’s played with such confidence,” she said on Paramount +.

“Seriously impressive tonight on the field. You can tell he’s a bit nervous talking to us and understandably so.

“[He] spoke through the question, spoke about goal scoring, spoke about the formation, being comfortable with that because that’s what he does with the Young Socceroos.

But there will be no rest over the festive period for Jovanovic and his teammates heading into next weekend’s Original Rivalry.

“We’ve got training on Christmas Day, actually,” Jovanovic said.

What this means

It was exactly the sort of win Adelaide United needed heading into Christmas.

The win fires Adelaide back into sixth on the standings for the time being, as they jostle with the likes of Central Coast and City for a spot in the six.

Their next clash is an absolute blockbuster on the road against their biggest rivals in the competition, when they face Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park next Saturday.

Meanwhile, Newcastle missed a great chance to close the gap on the top six.

Robbie Stanton’s side looked to have turned a corner in the fortnight leading into the contest, but were unable to continue the momentum generated in the win over Wellington Phoenix and draw with Perth Glory.

They return to action next Saturday against Western United at home.

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