Cornthwaite’s Corner: Round 20

Robbie Cornthwaite has given his view on the Reds leading into Round 20.
2022/23 tickets on sale.

Start believing Reds fans! This Adelaide side is irresistible.

Four goals scored in back-to-back home games against the two best defences in the league is some effort. I tend to look at the defensive performances and goals against record more than I should. It’s not really the way Carl Veart sets up his side and while I’m sure he’d love to keep more clean sheets and have less grey hairs —that’s the trade-off you must make if you want to play free-flowing, attacking football for 90 minutes, week in and week out.

I had a family member over from the UK this week who is a lifelong West Ham fan and a season ticket holder for the past 28 years. It was some introduction to Australian football; a top-of-the-table clash on Friday night at Coopers was almost the perfect recipe (it could have been warmer), but we should be proud of our product, the access we get with the players, the culture and atmosphere that have been created here in Adelaide since the inception of the league.

He loves it! He loved that you could drink in your seat; he loved the weather; he loved the active support; he loved the access and interaction with the players after the game, something you don’t get just about anywhere else in the world. He thought it was brilliant that young and old got to make their way into the ground after the match for a kick, and we even got a great photo of him standing on Hindmarsh with his Hammers top on. The game added to the occasion, of course, but Friday night games here rarely disappoint; it’s part of the fabric of the A-League.

As for the match, well, the biggest compliment I can give is that I enjoyed every minute. I was entertained. It’s always more difficult to give a strong opinion when you’re watching it live. I prefer to watch games on TV a lot of the time, but that was one of the most enjoyable games I’ve watched as a fan for a while.

Craig Goodwin’s five minutes after halftime were as good as you’ll see. I questioned Adelaide’s mindset after the break recently, and the skipper led by example. He cut and weaved to fashion a wonderful strike, which was well saved. Moments later, he was picked out and finished brilliantly from a tight angle. If there is one note, maybe the boys weren’t as clean as they could have been in the big moments in the first half. That was certainly rectified in the second.

There was a solid contribution from everyone on the night, and I don’t want to single out too many individuals. Nestroy Irankunda will get all the praise he deserves, but that win was set up by the work of his teammates in the first 85 minutes before he added a fourth.

The start was slow, and Adelaide were lucky not to be more than a goal down. You’d expect Jamie Maclaren to bury his chance 10 times out of 10, but he had a very quiet night.

It was a statement win for United, and the competition should take note — if they didn’t know before, they do now — that this team is the real deal.

Next up, Newcastle away on Saturday night. The Jets had been on one of their best runs in recent times, but have lost their last two games, putting a huge dent in their finals chances. With only seven games to go, it’s now or never for the Jets. They absolutely have start winning, or their season could be over within the next two weeks.

They do have some dangerous players to be weary of. Japanese veteran, Manabu Saitō, made his first start after a mid-season transfer and was impressive against the Phoenix down the left flank. Newcastle is a team that creates plenty of goal-scoring chances and would be frustrated not to have taken a point from its trip to New Zealand; it was a missed opportunity for Arthur Papas’ men.

At home this week, they’ll be hungry, and Adelaide will probably have to weather another early storm, but against a team that likes to get numbers forward, there will be plenty of space for Adelaide in transition. I feel like this game suits the Reds, but it also makes it a dangerous game.

When you think about this game on paper, it’s three points for Carl Veart’s men, but I never liked going to the Hunter. It’s a long bus ride to Newcastle and then you’re always in a fight. The stadium feels vast and lacks some soul, in my opinion, and the pitch there can feel massive.

Adelaide has to keep this unbeaten run going.

If they want to be champions and qualify for the Asian Champions League, then finishing in the top two is a must.

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