Cornthwaite’s Corner: Round 19

Robbie Cornthwaite has given his view on the Reds leading into Round 19.
2022/23 tickets on sale.

It was a dramatic end to an Original Rivalry that, for the most part, didn’t really feel like the derby we’ve come to expect.

I think the time slot of Sunday afternoon isn’t really the time for a marquee fixture of this magnitude and no doubt that played its part.

Craig Goodwin starting at left back also took a bit of gloss off the United attacking three, and they didn’t really look all that dangerous for most of the match. There were the long-range efforts of Louis D’Arrigo and Ethan Alagich, but I think both sides really lacked a spark in the first 70 minutes.

The game had its usual moments of physicality and niggle, but again, I felt that was born more out of frustration and cheap fouls than actual intensity. It was a bit of a nothing game for me to be honest, and I didn’t really get excited or worked up outside of the two goals.

Adelaide has stretched its unbeaten run to seven games now, and the barren run post-World Cup seems to be long forgotten, but they’ve still missed two massive opportunities to make second spot their own and close the gap on Melbourne City ahead of their visit this weekend.

On Sunday, Alexandar Popović looked like the player we’d gotten used to seeing last season. That was the best game of the year from him, and I’m not sure whether the goal against the Wanderers gave him some confidence or whether the criticism aimed at him on A-Leagues All Access was the wake-up call he needed. His aggression was back, but he can feel hard done by, as can the rest of the team, for the shocking penalty Victory was gifted.

How anyone involved in football can think that’s a penalty is baffling to me. There was a coming together between two players whose lines of attack on the ball happened to cross. But it was a tangle of legs at worst, something that happens at every set piece in every game of football. Had Damien Da Silva been about to meet the ball and head it on goal, then yes, it would have been worth a look, but it had no impact on the play whatsoever. Mind blowing.

Thank god the Reds have a young superstar named Nestory Irankunda. What a strike of the football! There’s not a single player in Australia who immediately springs to mind when you’re trying to think of someone else who can hit a ball like that. The pace he generates and the dip he puts on the ball are on another level. It reminded me of an ex-Victory player, Carlos Hernandez. He used to hit balls like that with his laces, which would dip and swerve into the top corners. For a 17-year-old to produce something like that is wild. I’m not sure what he can do next, but he keeps raising the bar.

It’s been some time since Adelaide lost a game in Victoria, which bodes well heading towards finals considering if they want to go all the way they’ll probably have to beat City away at some point.

We’ll get a look at the benchmark this weekend when City come to Hindmarsh on Friday night. It’s a mouth-watering clash.

City haven’t been at their absolute best over the past couple of weeks, and several key players have suffered injuries in the past fortnight, none bigger than that of former Hindmarsh hero Mathew Leckie. On Monday, the Alex Tobin medal favourite was ruled out for 6–8 weeks, which is terrible news for the ladder leaders and the league, but an advantage for Adelaide.

We all know this fixture has produced plenty of spicy encounters in the past, mainly thanks to Stefan Mauk, but United always seem to have the edge on City, particularly in recent times. This game holds no fear for Carl Veart’s squad, and with Ryan Kitto returning to left back and Goodwin moving forward, a lot of the pieces are back in place.

Depth is an issue for both sides now, with both benches made up largely of inexperienced kids. City has an obvious embarrassment of riches in the front three even without Leckie. Jamie Maclaren, Marco Tilio, and Andrew Nabbout are three of the league’s most feared attackers, and Adelaide needs to be at their very best to keep them quiet.

This game is an opportunity to strike fear into City. A win could be an important psychological advantage ahead of the Finals.

This game is vital for Adelaide’s season; a win and they could sit comfortably in second; a loss could see them slip as low as fifth.

Follow Robbie on Twitter and Instagram.

Only at Coopers – Adelaide United memberships on-sale now.