Cornthwaite’s Corner: Round 17

Robbie Cornthwaite has given his view on the Reds leading into Round 17.
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A month ago, I don’t think the Reds would have come back to win a game like that. The fact that they did shows how much confidence and belief has slowly, week by week, returned to the team.

Carl Veart said on Friday that he’d been delighted with the level and intensity on the training park so far in 2023, and results are starting to show. At the 47-minute mark, Cornthwaite’s Corner was looking very different from the one you’re reading now.

It was a strange first half, really. Both teams lacked any real spark, and I almost tweeted that there was very little quality on display. There were limited openings for either team, and although Joe Gauci had to make a couple of saves, it was the away team with the best chances.

Ben Halloran was played in midway through the half, and his deflected shot fell to Zach Clough, who really should have hit the target.

Hiroshi Ibusuki had gastro prior to the game, so he can be excused for coming off straight after the break. He was trying hard and putting himself about as usual, and he had one decent opening in the first 45 minutes that he would have liked to do better with.

Carl was quizzed on Nestory’s ability to start again and was quick to say the now 17-year-old can’t last more than half an hour. It was to my surprise when he introduced him with just over 40 minutes to play.

After going two behind, Carl went to his bench quickly, something we haven’t seen as often in recent times. If you think back to the start of his tenure, he would often make two or three changes at halftime or soon after. Last week it worked, with Irankunda having an immediate impact.

Let’s be honest, though, he should have been sent off, and John Aloisi and Western United have every right to be furious. There wasn’t a lot of malice in either challenge; there was more exuberance than anything else. The second challenge was a yellow all day long, and I think the only thing that saved him was his age and the fact he already had a booking. Either way, he took full advantage of his second chance.

Obviously, his hand was in Clough’s goal, and with a great burst of speed and a composed cut back, we’ve seen him score more than one from there. That’s a couple of goals this season now for Clough, and he does get himself in good goal-scoring areas; hopefully that continues.

Nestory’s near-flicked header also sent Halloran on his way to win the match-winning penalty, but ultimately, I have to agree with Carl. He looked tired and drifted in and out of the match. He’s still some way off from having a long and lasting impact on matches.

Comfortably sitting alongside the best of the rest behind Melbourne City this season, can Adelaide push on and separate themselves from the pack? Well, they have a chance to do that this Sunday.

What a mouth-watering clash at Coopers! Western Sydney has been one of the most consistent and hard-to-beat teams this year. Coming off a loss in the Sydney Derby, they’ll be eager to get back to winning ways and jump Adelaide on the table. With the Mariners headed to Perth, it could be a massive weekend for the team. You can’t focus too much on the other games, obviously, but if United can do their job at home, they could be rewarded.

Wanderers will be travelling without Yeni Ngbakoto, who was shown a straight red card for a stray arm, and skipper Marcelo looks in doubt with a groin injury. Western Sydney have the best defence in the league, and Marcelo’s been ever-present. If they are forced to reshuffle things, it could play into Adelaide’s hands.

The two new Reds signings, Jay Barnett and Luke Duzel, should be better for a full week of training and be pushing for selection. Just as the team is getting their mojo back, they’ve added reinforcements who will only add competition and drive the team to be better.

Lastly, with all the central defenders finally fit, Carl has a decision to make. He’s liked the Alexandar Popović and Lachlan Barr combination a majority of the time, but opted to play Ben Warland in place of the former last week, and they looked more comfortable as the game went on. Nick Ansell was exceptional a few weeks ago, so the pressure for places is heating up, which is exactly what a coach wants.

It’s an exciting time to be a Reds fan.

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The South Australian Produce Market and State Government have partnered with Adelaide United to hold a charity football match to raise funds for primary producers and small related agricultural businesses impacted by natural disasters including the Murray River flood.

The match will be a curtain raiser for Adelaide United’s match against Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday, 19 February 2023 at Coopers Stadium, kicking-off at 12:30pm (ACDT).

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