Adelaide United’s six-match winning streak has ended after a 2-1 loss to league leaders Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Thursday night.
Joe Gauci saved two penalties and Kusini Yengi opened the scoring in the second-half.
However, the Mariners staged a dramatic comeback with goals in quick succession from Oliver Bozanic and Alou Kuol to halt United’s blistering form and prevent the Reds from equalling a Club-record seven consecutive triumphs.
Adelaide could not muster any clear-cut chances during the first-half though Craig Goodwin did have two shots on target which failed to trouble Mark Birighitti.
The Mariners were awarded a penalty following a protracted intervention by the VAR for a handball on Goodwin in the 16th minute.
It appeared harsh as replays indicated the 29-year-old was pushed into the ball by Matt Simon.
But the contentious call would not prove costly as Gauci produced a stunning save against his former side, sticking his foot out to deny Simon’s powerful spot-kick down the middle.
Moments later Simon had the ball in the net but it was disallowed after an offside in the build-up.
The visitors enjoyed decent spells of possession in attack but Yengi was kept rather quiet in the first period.
That would change to start the second has he connected with Ben Halloran’s cross for his third goal of the season, squeezing his finish under Birighitti.
Alen Stajcic’s team were awarded another penalty for a handball on Elsey as the VAR intervened for a second time.
But Gauci held firm, this time thwarting Bozanic from the spot with a strong save to his right.
Adelaide were under relentless pressure which was compounded by the loss of Michael Jakobsen to injury and the momentum began to shift.
Bozanic atoned for his squandered penalty after he was granted too much space and rifled his shot into corner.
Four minutes in the 76th minute, the two substitutes combined as Josh Nisbet beat Gauci to the ball and his squared pass was finished off by Kuol.
Adelaide, who remain second, fought until the end but will now regroup and shift its attention to next weekend’s home clash against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Juande was given his first Reds start, replacing fellow Spaniard Javi López in the only change made to the starting line-up by Head Coach, Carl Veart. Joshua Cavallo shifted to left-back, a position he played last weekend against Sydney FC following Javi López’s knee injury early in the contest. Meanwhile, Tomi Juric returned from injury via the bench after missing the past five games.
17’ | PENALTY SAVE! Simon’s spot-kick is fired straight down the middle but Gauci denies his effort with his outstretched foot.
23’ | OFFSIDE! Simon has the ball in the back of the net but his header is ruled out for offside.
45’ | CLEARANCE! Nigro’s header loops over Gauci but Elsey is there to head the ball off the line.
47’ | GOAL! Yengi meets Halloran’s well-struck cross to break the deadlock.
57’ | PENALTY SAVE! Gauci is equal to Bozanic, diving to his right and palming the ball to safety.
72’ | GOAL: Bozanic dispatches a right-footed strike into the corner from distance.
76’ | GOAL: Kuol meets Nisbet’s cut-back for an easy finish.
Thursday, 1 April
A-League 2020/21 – Matchweek 15
Central Coast Mariners 2 (Bozanic 72’, Kuol 76’)
Adelaide United 1 (Yengi 48’)
Venue: Central Coast Stadium