Cornthwaite’s Corner: Elimination Final

Robbie Cornthwaite has given his view on the Reds leading into the Elimination Final against Wellington Phoenix.
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At the start of the season, Adelaide United would have snatched your hand off had you offered them the third spot at the end of the regular season, but you can’t help but feel a little dissatisfied with the way it ended.

With four games to go, there was belief and a real shot at catching Melbourne City. Whether their win over Melbourne Victory in the Melbourne derby catch-up game stole United’s drive away, I’m not sure, but once first place looked out of reach, they lost their edge.

Just two points from the last four games, three of which were at home, isn’t going to cut it. Maybe the team thought that because of the number of goals they’d been scoring and a terrific run in, it was just going to happen.

Football doesn’t work that way and they better realise that quickly because the season could be over on Friday night.

As a player, when you’re riding a wave of momentum or full of belief, you truly feel unbeatable. That’s what this team has been experiencing for the whole second half of the season. They should be proud of their season, and even with the poor finish, they should feel extremely confident heading into the elimination final against Wellington, but it’s not going to just happen.

You need to do everything right, make sure every small detail is taken care of, concentrate, and give 100 per cent in every moment to have any chance.

On Friday night against the Mariners, there were times when I saw players jogging back when the Mariners were breaking forward. I won’t name names, but when Adelaide had a corner and the ball was cleared, there were players running at 75 per cent to get back. SPRINT!

People will say they wouldn’t have gotten back in time to block the shot or affect the play. That’s true. But it’s also true that you have no idea what will happen. What happens if Joe Gauci makes a save? The player has a poor touch or hits the post? That would then give you time to get back, wouldn’t it? Don’t guess; get back as fast as you can. No exceptions or excuses

If you see an opposition attacker run past you, it’s clear they want it more than you do.

The Reds have a great record against the Nix at Coopers Stadium and another packed house will go a long way to helping them get over the line. Adelaide fans have been brilliant this season and need to come out in numbers, as they have all season, regardless of the weather.

The last meeting at home ended 5-1 in favour of United, but the result only tells one side of the story. Wellington had more possession, more shots, more corners, and a higher expected goals. If not for their woeful finishing, it could have ended 5-all. With Oskar Zawada making his first trip to Hindmarsh, I’d be surprised if he didn’t end up with a hat-trick if the game plays out the same.

I’ve loved what Luka Jovanović and Jonny Yull have brought to the team in recent weeks, but if Hiroshi Ibusuki and Zach Clough are fit to play, then they must start. Adelaide needs discipline and structure without the ball. Carl has always preferred a workhorse-style number 10, and Zach can provide that.

I think this could be a toss of the coin. If Adelaide shows up, they’ll win. If they’re off slightly, be warned: you could be booking your end-of-season trip.

Lastly, congratulations to all the winners at the Alagich Vidmar Awards Night. It looked like a tremendous evening, and had circumstances allowed, I would have loved to have been there.

That said, I’ll see you at Coopers on Friday.

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