Cornthwaite’s Corner: Another week, another loss. They’re starting to stack up

For just the second time this season, we saw Carl Veart make some meaningful changes to his starting lineup off the back of three straight defeats.

I think they were needed to not only try and shake things up but to send a message. The preferred centre-back pairing of Nick Ansell and Alexandar Popović both returned, and I thought that was almost the best showing from the pair despite the defeat.

For me, Popa was probably best on the ground with for the Reds, and that was the best performance he’s had in quite some time. The week off definitely freshened him up mentally, more so than physically, in my opinion. He was aggressive in defence and on the front foot, something I’d been asking for in recent weeks. He won almost all of his duels and barely put a foot wrong.

Ryan Tunnicliff came in for just his second start after only lasting 45 minutes on his starting debut in the hammering at home to Sydney FC. He’s looked better and better every time I’ve seen him play, and while he hasn’t had an overly influential impact on any game so far this season, you can see he’s getting fitter and stronger, adding a lot of bite in the middle of the park.

Ultimately, though the overriding feeling for me in the first half was who was impacting this game? The front three were barely sighted, and again, away from home, you are not always going to have things on your terms, and it can be tough. It doesn’t have to be an attacking action; maybe it’s getting back in defence to make a critical tackle or clearance.

In the opening 45 minutes, the side just let the game pass them by, and there was not a single player that really stood out as doing anything exceptional or extra. The midfield was MIA for me. The amount of space given to WSW after they were forced into a change at the back almost threw the reds off. When the Wanderers dropped a midfielder into the centre of defence, they waltzed through the centre of the field three or four times advancing the ball to the edge of the United penalty area. This is how the goal came about.

Luke Duzel must do more. For me, he’s a very good player, but there are 100 guys who can get the ball and keep it. That’s not really doing anything for me. How are you hurting the opposition? What questions are you asking them? It’s like a winger or striker doing stopovers to beat a player but not scoring or assisting. I want an end product from my players in the front third. If there’s no end product, then I’ll play someone else.

The second half was obviously a lot better, and Adelaide could have equalised if not gone in front, but another slow start had them on the back foot again. While there are definitely areas, I wasn’t happy with, I still think it was an improved performance from recent weeks and something to build on.

Friday night against Newcastle, a few days out from Christmas, should be a belter. They have a former Adelaide United striker in red-hot form with not so much a point to prove but a chip on his shoulder. Apostolos Stamatelopoulos is the type of player who always wants to score. He loves being the enemy and will feed on the Friday night atmosphere.

It’s a dangerous game for Adelaide; another loss, and they could be spending Christmas 9th on the ladder. I’m not sure it’ll be a merry Christmas if they are.

Follow Robbie on Twitter and Instagram.