Despite the goal scoring return of Bruce Djite, Adelaide United FC could not stop a barnstorming Western Sydney Wanderers from recording a fourth straight win.
Despite the goal scoring return of Bruce Djite, Adelaide United FC could not stop a barnstorming Western Sydney Wanderers from recording a fourth straight win in a 4-2 result at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Two goals within a minute nearing the end of the first half followed by another seven minutes into the second had the Wanderers cruising in what was to be no fairytale for interim Reds boss Michael Valkanis- first game in charge.
Bright on at the start of the second half, Djite briefly breathed life back into the contest when he pegged a goal back but Mateo Poljak-s first Hyundai A-League goal put end to any idea of a Reds revival as the Wanderers continued their stellar away form as they made it six wins from nine games on the road.
Iain Ramsay scored a late consolation to complete the score line on a day that left the Reds in fourth three points behind the Wanderers.
“Obviously we conceded two goals just before half time which let us down and we went into half time in a little bit of a negative frame of mind,” Valkanis said in his assessment of the game.
“We changed things around a little bit for the second half, becoming more offensive and trying to change things up in regards to the players we had available.”
Although it was not the desired result, Valkanis remains optimistic of what can still be achieved this season and after a week of drama, is only looking to move in one direction.
“The boys tried to respond and that-s the only positive that we can take out of it…that they tried to respond. We have to move forwards…we have to rally as a club – players, staff, supporters, everyone.”
“For us it-s about pushing forward. We can-t keep talking about the past. We had a result that we didn-t want today and the players were very disappointed, they worked very hard during the week, and we kept pushing.”
“There are another eight games to go, we-ll find our feet and we-ll find the answers to the problems that we-ve got on the park, and we-ll keep working and improving.”
It was a largely uneventful first 20 minutes as the Wanderers started the better against a slightly nervy home side. In his first start of the season, Jon McKain was prominent whether it was linking up to try and start attacks or intercepting and harassing Western Sydney-s sharp midfield brigade.
An ambitious long range Shinji Ono free kick caused little trouble for Eugene Galekovic as the Wanderers appeared the more likely to strike first, some link up play between Mark Bridge and Hersi creating a chance for the latter but the ball sailed over the bar.
Galekovic was forced to parry away a dipping, swerving Aaron Mooy free kick before the Reds created their first really threatening build up in the 33rd minute, Dario Vidosic and Marcelo Carrusca combining to allow Ramsay to try and cut the ball back from an acute angle, but the winger could only watch his side footed attempt roll harmlessly across the goal face.
Then in the blink of an eye the Wanderers struck twice to take the momentum and a two goal lead into the break. Despite some brilliance from Galekovic to keep Mooy-s shot out, a frenetic passage of play ended with Hersi-s angled shot bypassing a host of legs and defenders to finish in the back of the net.
Less than 90 seconds later Hersi turned provider as he put the ball on a plate for an unmarked Bridge to fire past Galekovic and suddenly it was 2-0 to the visitors.
Needing to create more goalmouth action, Valkanis sacrificed Daniel Bowles for Djite to begin the second half but it was the Wanderers that would be celebrating again as Bridge was given too much room down the left, his measured cross met at the far post by a purposeful Hersi who headed home his second from the back post.
The Reds tried to dig in and respond, a 59th minute Nigel Boogaard header from a Vidosic corner somehow kept out by Ante Covic.
A lively Djite then gave the home fans a glimpse that a fight back was on as he pegged a goal back, taking the ball from Vidosic with his back to goal before expertly directing his left footed shot back across Covic to give the Wanderers gloveman no chance.
The Reds suddenly had a sniff and they could sense as it was the Wanderers who were suddenly the ones being asked the questions.
Djite was igniting the revival as he sent in a tantalising cross that was narrowly missed by Evan Kostopoulos, but any thought of a comeback was effectively snuffed out when Poljak faked first time to get around Boogaard before beating a helpless Galekovic to restore the Wanderers- three goal buffer.
The goal somewhat took the sting out of the Reds- sails but they did not drop off, Ramsay cutting back the lead again with a well taken finish in the 87th minute.
The Reds- attention now turns to what has become a crucial showdown with Melbourne Victory at Hindmarsh on Friday night, where they will be without defender Nigel Boogaard who will serve a one match suspension after he received his fifth yellow card of the season.
Adelaide United FC 2 (Djite 61-, Ramsay 87-)
Western Sydney Wanderers 4 (Hersi 43-/53-, Bridge 45-, Poljak 68-)
Referee: Chris Beath
Crowd: 9,686 @ Hindmarsh Stadium
Adelaide United starting line-up: 1.Eugene Galekovic (gk) (c), 3.Nigel Boogaard, 4.Jon McKain (5.Iain Fyfe 70-), 6.Cassio, 8.Marcelo Carrusca, 10.Dario Vidosic, 12.Antony Golec, 14.Cameron Watson, 16.Daniel Bowles (11.Bruce Djite 46-), 17.Iain Ramsay, 23.Evan Kostopoulos (19.Jake Barker-Daish 82-)
Substitutes not used: 30.John Hall (gk)
Yellow Cards: McKain 25-, Boogaard 26-, Fyfe 90+1-
Red Cards: Nil
Western Sydney Wanderers starting line-up: 1.Ante Covic (gk), 2.Shannon Cole, 3.Adam D-Apuzzo, 4.Nikolai Topor-Stanley (c), 8.Mateo Poljak, 9.Dino Kresinger, 10.Aaron Mooy, 17.Youssouf Hersi (14.Kwabena Appiah-Kubi 74-), 18.Lacopo La Rocca, 19.Mark Bridge (7.Labinot Haliti 83-), 21.Shinji Ono (23.Jason Trifiro 70-)
Substitutes not used: 20.Jerrad Tyson (gk)
Yellow Cards: Mooy 45-, Kresinger 65-
Red Cards: Nil