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Cornthwaite’s Corner: Round 6

Robbie Cornthwaite is back with Cornthwaite's Corner ahead of Round 6.
2022/23 tickets on sale.

There was a lot to like about the result against Western United: back-to-back wins and the floodgates finally opened.

But let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for Joe Gauci and the terrible finishing from the home side, the match would have ended 5-5.

Adelaide were lucky not to go behind early after Western managed to get in behind the defence three times in the opening stages, something I warned of in last week’s Cornthwaite’s Corner.

Gauci made a number of big saves throughout the match, but none were probably as important as keeping the score at 0-0. A delightful Craig Goodwin set piece, something Socceroos boss Graham Arnold mentioned in his World Cup press conference, helped unlock the fragile home team’s defence, allowing Hiroshi Ibusuki to head home and continue his fine start to the season.

Joe Gauci has been in fine form this season for the Reds.

Adelaide took a comfortable three-nil lead into the half-time break, a score line most teams dream about. I was expecting the Reds to come out firing in the second half and continue to put pressure on the opposition, but it didn’t happen.

Straight from the restart, Adelaide looked reactive. They allowed Western to believe there was a chance of getting something from the match. When Adelaide had the ball, the movement was almost nonexistent. Players looked like they just wanted to see the game out and not really have to do anything for it. It doesn’t work like that. As soon as you drop off one or two per cent, it’s enough for the other side to grab the ascendency.

Carl Veart’s back four wasn’t great all game and they allowed the home side back into the match with their lack of desire to get on the front foot and control the match.

Both teams had more chances to score, but the best thing I saw was one moment of real intent and commitment from Harry Van der Saag. He won the ball on the touch line with a strong challenge, chased down a loose ball, and won a tackle that was 60-40 in favour of his opponent, then settled himself and slipped the ball to Ben Halloran to restore Adelaide’s three-goal cushion.

Desperation, desire, and aggression are what will be required on Friday night when the old enemy comes to Coopers Stadium.

Harry Van der Saag has impressed man Adelaide United fans with his performances in his debut season as a Red.

In season one of the A-League, there was probably more hatred in the games against Sydney FC than there was against Victory, but that quickly changed.

Playing Victory has always felt more like a real-life rivalry to me than the Sydney or Melbourne derbies. It wasn’t born out of them being a cross-town rival, but a real dislike for the team across the border.

Like Adelaide, Victory had been struggling to find the back of the net this season but put Newcastle Jets to the sword with swift attacking football last round. The Melbourne front four is frightening when they are up and going, and last week against Newcastle was the first time we’ve seen the real quality that Nani still possesses.

No matter who starts, they have explosive, dynamic wingers who love to run at defenders. Nick D’Agostino is a proper No. 9, who is strong and loves to be aggressive with and without the ball. He’s strong in the air and plays with a chip on his shoulder.

Jake Brimmer will play in behind the striker and didn’t win the Johnny Warren Medal last season for nothing. His pass last weekend to set up D’Agostino was world-class. He’s my type of player – someone who loves to be positive and wants to make things happen. I expect him to try and take the game to Adelaide, so the battle between the young star, and the experienced, wise footballer, Isaías, should be one to keep an eye on. Both players don’t mind a bit of niggling.

Isaías, in a tight battle against Perth Glory in Round 4, will be up for another scrappy match against Jake Brimmer, says Robbie Cornthwaite.

When Victory defend, they play more like a 4-4-2, with Brimmer and D’Agostino pressing the opposition’s central defenders, looking to force the pass wide. The two wingers sat off a little last week, making it very hard for Newcastle to play through the press. If you can beat the first line and face forward in the minefield, there are opportunities to run at their back four.

I would like to see Adelaide look long early and look to play the ball into Ibusuki at times, or look over the top and put Goodwin or Halloran in behind. They need to mix it up. Not long every time, but try and stretch the Melbourne defence to then create the option of playing short. Keep them guessing.

The game is always an amazing occasion, and Victory skipper Josh Brillante recently said on the PFA podcast that the rivalry between these two clubs is as big as any in the league.

The weather will be perfect, and there’s plenty of hype around Australian football with the Socceroos and Matildas in the news, so the feel-good factor around the game is high. Let’s hope there are plenty of fireworks on a memorable night in Adelaide.

Just a quick reminder: the Adelaide United Legends take on the Australian Defence Force Open Men’s Football Team in the curtain raiser as part of the Remembrance Day commemorations. Make sure you get down there early and support both teams, especially our servicemen and servicewomen who have sacrificed so much for us to live in this beautiful country and enjoy the freedoms we do.

Enjoy the last game before the 2022 World Cup. Go Socceroos!

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