Cornthwaite’s Corner: Round 5

Robbie Cornthwaite has given his thoughts on the Reds' upcoming Round 5 match against Western United, whilst also reflecting on the team's win over Perth Glory.
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Home, sweet home!

It felt like a long time coming, but the Reds finally returned to Coopers Stadium on Sunday afternoon and christened the redeveloped ground with a win over Perth Glory. But it wasn’t completely smooth sailing.

There’s no doubt the weather played a massive part and, I must admit, I didn’t manage to get to the ground, instead opting for the couch with the unpredictable weather forecast and the uncomfortable humidity.

I thought Perth did well to take the home crowd out of the game in the early exchanges and it felt like a library at times in the first half. The Red Army was doing its best to create some atmosphere, but the game didn’t really burst into life until the early Craig Goodwin chance, followed by two goals in four minutes that had the home side in cruise control.

Craig Goodwin’s strike opened the scoring against Perth Glory in Round 4 at Coopers Stadium.

I’m not sure if people appreciate how lucky we are to see Goodwin play first hand, week in and week out. He is clearly good enough to be playing in Europe or a big money league in Asia. In fact, there are probably two-or-three A-League sides who could offer him bigger deals, but his loyalty to Adelaide and the life it provides for his family is undeniable. He’d be disappointed he didn’t finish with a brace, after flashing one over the bar on his right foot in the second half. If he gets that chance at the World Cup, he has to take it.

There was a lot of space in the middle of the park throughout the match and I would have loved to see United’s back four push up a lot higher at times, especially in the second half. For me this was the most obvious impact the weather had on the game. The field was stretched and at times both midfields were having little impact defensively.

Perth were only really in the game for two reasons;

  1. a wonder strike from Giordano Colli, who was afforded way too much time and space to turn in the middle of the park and drift one into the top corner; and
  2. the inability to finish the game off from Carl Veart’s men.

Adelaide United have had 76 shots on goal this season, second to only Sydney FC with 78, but the Sky Blues have scored twice as many goals. Apart from Goodwin and Hiroshi Ibusuki, and possibly Ben Halloran, Adelaide lacks natural goal scorers and poachers. You’d take Sydney’s front three in a finishing contest every day of the week.

The floodgates will open for Adelaide at some stage – the quality of chances they are creating is too good for it not to happen.

Robbie Cornthwaite says Nestory Irankunda could cause havoc against Western United in Round 5.

For the second straight week, Halloran played in the number ten position and Harry Van der Saag on the right. While I do think both players had reasonable games and looked comfortable in those positions, you have two players playing in their non-preferred roles. If Ben is playing centrally, why not start Nestory Irankunda? He’s played a number of games this season with the Joeys, so fitness shouldn’t be an issue. Even if you only get 60-70 minutes out of him, he’s a natural-born winger who could help fix the goal-scoring issues.

Like last season Adelaide have space to sign a foreigner in January. They are screaming out for a natural number ten and there is no harm in starting that search now. It’s an area of the pitch we haven’t seen creativity and flair for an number of seasons now. It should be addressed if there’s money available.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the park, Ben Warland has slotted in nicely at the heart of Adelaide’s defence. While he did have one or two nervous moments in the first half, and picked up a needless yellow card, in the second he was huge. I counted six headed clearances from the last line of defence in the final 25 minutes alone. When Glory were pushing for an equaliser, he didn’t lose a single aerial contest.

All in all, the result ticked a box and got Adelaide’s year rolling with their first three points of the season.

Isuzu UTE A-League 2022/23 Round 4 – Adelaide United vs Perth Glory – Gallery
Ben Warland was resolute in defence but also provided an assist for Hiroshi Ibusuki’s goal.

Now, to this week…

What is going on at Western United?

John Aloisi’s men were brilliant last season and barely shipped a goal in the first half of the campaign. This time around, they look vulnerable and fragile.

They haven’t been that bad with the ball, and in the first half against the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday, they looked in control and comfortable away from home. They were 2-0 up at halftime and clearly have a mobile front three, which can easily cause teams a lot of problems if given time and space.

Adelaide needs to squeeze the pitch. The back four can’t be so deep this Sunday and allow Western to pick up the ball and run at them. That said, Alessandro Diamanti is a specialist in the no-look through ball in-behind defences. The back four must be side-on and ready to drop when he has time and space on the ball, and Joe Gauci needs to play as a sweeper and be prepared to leave his box to protect his defenders.

Structurally, Western doesn’t look too bad, but they have way too many players playing below the heights they reached last season. There’s no doubt the red card changed the game for them on the weekend, but they look a bit sorry for themselves right now.

With Nikolai Topor-Stanley suspended and Tomoki Imai injured, the hosts will need to reshuffle. They look like they’re there for the taking and you need to take advantage of teams when they are not at their best. The speed of Irankunda would certainly put a low-confidence defence on edge before a ball is even kicked.

Aleksandar Prijovic could return from a toe injury, and former Red, James Troisi, could also play.

Robbie Cornthwaite’s hoping for an exciting encounter between the Reds and Western United.

Honours are completely even between the two sides with two wins apiece and two draws. In Westerns’ first season in the league, these two clubs produced two absolute classics, with the away team on each day claiming 3-4 and 1-5 wins.

I’m looking for something similar this Sunday – an away win in a high-scoring thriller.

Fingers crossed.

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