Cornthwaite’s Corner: Round 13

Robbie Cornthwaite has given his view on the Reds leading into Round 13.
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A fortnight ago I was talking about Adelaide staking a claim for a potential top-two finish. It’s not that I don’t think it’s possible, but on form at the present moment, it looks like a long shot.

One thing we have seen demonstrated by the Reds under Carl Veart is long runs of form, good and bad. There’s always been a period during every season he’s been in charge where the team couldn’t seem to buy a win and then went on a long winning streak, collecting a large number of points in a short period of time.

They’ve done it already this year, winning three in a row, and now have just one win in the past six. Something needs to change sooner rather than later.

Last week was such a strange, Original Rivalry. There was an obvious distraction for the Victory, with the club heavily sanctioned in the lead up to the match. Combined with the fact they came into the game last on the ladder and off three straight defeats, it wasn’t the type of performance we have come to expect over the years.

Adelaide was not without its issues either. Obviously, losing Carl to illness wasn’t part of the plan, but from what I could tell from the stands, Mark Milligan seemed to do a reasonable job and will be better for the experience. Most of the shot-calling would have been coming from the boss anyway, but Milligan still had to relay the message and motivate the players.

The reshuffle in defence created its own issues. With Lachlan Barr out with a hamstring injury and his replacement, Nick Ansell, also sick, the returning Javi López was forced to play as a makeshift centre back, something Isaías probably would have done if he had not been suspended. Panashe Madanha continued at right back even after his torrid time against the Mariners. I think it’s safe to say when you looked at both teams on paper before the game, it was clear neither had their strongest team on the park.

With all that said, it all goes out the window in a derby. Form lines and team sheets matter little once the referee blows the whistle.

Mark Milligan leading the Reds at Coopers Stadium in Carl Veart’s absence through illness.

It was kind of a bookend performance from the home team — a strong start and a strong finish. There were signs of improvement over the previous week, but obviously, the performance still lacked completeness. Adelaide started in encouraging fashion and rewarded themselves with an early goal after a quality Craig Goodwin strike.

It was an entertaining and willing contest, and Victory got on top throughout the middle stages of the game. We were blessed to witness the strike of energetic Victory striker Nick D’Agostino, and I know there’s not a keeper in the world who would have saved that, let alone Joe Gauci.

As we’ve become so accustomed to, Adelaide came home with a wet sail, and had Nestory Irankunda decided to take the Ben Halloran option, they could have gone back in front. I must say all great players have a selfish streak and take the responsibility on their shoulders in the big moments. I don’t hate the fact that the boy has the balls to ignore the better option and want the glory, but great players are also great because they make the right decision and make their teammates look good too. He should have passed, and he should learn from it.

Six games now without a goal for Hiroshi Ibusuki as well. He’s been so important to the way Adelaide play, and when Adelaide play well, he’s usually the beneficiary. I think the fact he’s been so quiet is a great indication of the lack of dominance they’ve had in games. Getting the ball in the box isn’t enough; he needs someone close to him as a foil.

I think a draw was fair in the end, especially when you consider the golden opportunity for Melbourne late in the game. They should have stolen all three points.

Carl Veart laments his side’s performance against the Bulls in Round 2.

A second straight home game this week when Macarthur visits on Friday night. The two teams met back in round two, with the Bulls coming away with a 2-0 win. The standout memory from the match was Adelaide’s wastefulness in front of goal, something we’ve seen before but probably not as bad as that day.

It’s a critical game for both teams, who are separated by one position and one point and share the same goal difference on the ladder; the two sides are virtually inseparable. You would expect that whoever loses this match won’t be in the top six at the end of the weekend.

The most important area is Adelaide’s defence. We know with Goodwin leading a dangerous attack, there’s a good chance United will score goals, especially at home, but with just two clean sheets so far this season, it’s becoming a real issue. The Bulls are blessed with attacking talent, so much so that Daniel Arzani and Craig Noone were on the bench last week. Former Red, Al Hassan Toure, will be buzzing to be back at his former home and it’ll be interesting to see who he comes up against.

I think there’s a strong possibility Javi López will return to his preferred right back position with Ben Warland slotting into the heart of defence. Ethan Alagich was a second-half sub against the Victory, and I’m not sure he’s done enough to win a starting berth.

The forecast looks ideal for Friday night football, so let’s hope it’s a belter.

Just quickly, great to see you gun Bernardo is back in full training. I know he’s still a few weeks away from being selected, but it gives Adelaide another important option in the front third.

I’d love to see him given a chance to play as a No. 10 behind Ibusuki. That’s something to get excited about.

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