Cornthwaite’s Corner: Away from home, things are never easy

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Let’s be honest, while the game had just about everything, it wasn’t the world’s best performance.

Away from home, things are never easy, especially in Melbourne against the Victory. I thought the home team was exceptional for most of the contest and fully deserved all three points. Thankfully, Adelaide has not just one of the best keepers in the A-League but one of the best Aussie keepers anywhere on the planet. If he wasn’t already a lock, Joe Gauci secured his place in the next Socceroos squad.

In the opening two rounds, Adelaide had virtually no passengers, and while it’s not like anyone played particularly badly on Saturday night, there were a few that well and truly lost their individual battles.

I thought the Reds were second to just about every ball in the first half, and this put the defence under a lot of pressure. If you’re not going to win the second or lose balls, you’re going to be asking for trouble.

Panashe Madanha was having a particularly tough time at right back, and it’s one area where I would not be surprised to see a change this week with Sydney FC’s Joe Lolley and Robert Mak coming to Coopers Stadium. Javi Lopez is not 100{9316bdc8926ea12fd3218e9df0be06a03991e545af91e98c723bc822f5d4d102} ready to go, but Giuseppe Bovalina has looked solid and added plenty going forward in his time so far. Whether he has 90-minutes in him is another question.

Adelaide got battered in the midfield in the first half, and most of the players other than Hiroshi Ibusuki were MIA. Hiroshi deserved a goal for his work in recent weeks, and although he looked frustrated at times in the first half, he never dropped his head and persisted even when things weren’t going his way.

Where it changed

Things changed for United in the second half, and when Melbourne went down to 10-men, I was very impressed with Jonny Yull. For a young, inexperienced player, he was the one who was trying to make things happen. He was dropping deeper at times to try and get on the ball and create. He looked like he wanted the responsibility, and I think that’s a great sign of what’s to come. He was never hiding and wasn’t afraid to be the man on the big stage.

I was most concerned with the Reds’ inability to play through the Victory press. It’s like what we saw in the two heavy defeats to Central Coast in last season’s finals campaign. When teams are super organised, I think going long, especially early in a game, isn’t a bad thing. Drop one over the midfield into Hiroshi’s feet or chest and play off him. When Nestory Irankunda is up too, don’t be afraid to turn the defence around and press them into the corner. Play the game as much as you can in their half and not your back third.

Red card?

The only thing I’ll say about the Nestor’s red card is that the referee got sucked in by the crowd. He didn’t award a free kick because he bought into the opinion of the home crowd that Nestor was going down too easily. Both fouls on Nestor were 100{9316bdc8926ea12fd3218e9df0be06a03991e545af91e98c723bc822f5d4d102} there. It made no sense not to give him a free kick unless you believed he’d been milking them, which he wasn’t. It was a poor reaction from the 17-year-old, but he knows that, so let’s move on.

Beware the new coach bounce

The game against a winless Sydney FC on Saturday night is a real danger. The Sky Blues are a team stacked with talent and more than capable of taking others apart on their day. Losing a coach isn’t nice, especially one who is such a Sky Blues legend, but another with just as much passion takes over. With Steve Corica out and Ufuk Takay in, expect a reaction from the players. If Adelaide doesn’t contain Sydney’s front three and loses the battle in midfield like it did last week, then be warned, United fans, it could be another busy night for Joe Gauci.

Let’s hope the skies over Sydney FC stay cloudy a little longer.

Follow Robbie on Twitter and Instagram.

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