Cornthwaite’s Corner: Round 8

Robbie Cornthwaite gives his thoughts ahead of the Round 8 clash between the Reds and Phoenix.
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Maybe it wasn’t my best tweet of all time straight after the game. I put a lot of the blame on Isaías’ shoulders, and although I thought he was far from his best, Adelaide had more than enough opportunities to have the game sewn up far earlier.

Isaías’ passing was off, and he was easily beaten on a couple of occasions. Those types of performances have been a rarity from him during his memorable time in Adelaide, but thankfully they have a ready-made replacement in Louis D’Arrigo on the bench while he serves his suspension.

I called for Craig Goodwin to be rested, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing longer term that he missed the clash through illness. It’s just another sign he needed a rest. I remember when I was playing overseas, I’d push my body and mind to the absolute limit for so long that as soon as the off-season rolled around, I’d almost always get sick. Goody, whether he knew it or not, was running on empty and it’s better he misses a few days with the flu than six weeks with a hamstring injury.

On the whole, Adelaide were the better side, particularly in the first half. But there was something missing. I’m sure the break played its part, and it looked like a Round 1 showing where a team was not quite into the season properly yet.

It’s not the easiest draw for United, with Brisbane away, Wellington away, and then a 10-day break before they take on the Jets at Coopers just after Christmas. It doesn’t really feel like the run of games to gain momentum, but it’s the hand they’ve been dealt.

While we only ever really see him for a limited number of minutes, that was the most complete performance we have seen from Nestory Irankunda against Roar. He made an immediate impact after coming on at half-time, and his pace was a constant threat to Brisbane’s defence. He didn’t always make the right decision, but like in the past, Carl Veart never really said anything to him, not that I saw anyway. He’s still young and still learning the game. Carl seems content to continue giving him freedom to express himself.

For a player so young, he’s also happy to take on a lot of responsibility. We saw it last season when he scored a last-minute free kick against the Jets, but he’s perfectly capable of handling the set-piece duties. It was his corner that found fellow substitute, George Blackwood, who worked his marker under the ball, giving the Reds a deserved lead.

Irankunda would be disappointed not to score after finding himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. While he didn’t finish, his effort was still full of conviction. There was no hesitation or timidness from the kid, so there was still a lot to like even though he failed to convert.

While the red card to Isaías wasn’t ideal, there were still opportunities for Adelaide to prevent the goal. Seconds earlier, there was a 50/50 in the centre of the play when D’Arrigo should have taken absolutely everything in the tackle. At that moment, either win the ball or give away a foul, slow the game down, and get everyone behind the ball. Instead, he tried to prod the ball away, lost it, and Brisbane immediately went forward down the left, leading to the penalty. If he had a choice, I think he’d like to have that moment in time again.

Redemption is on the cards this weekend when Adelaide travels to New Zealand for the second time in the opening eight rounds of the season.

In Round 1, United had more than enough opportunities to win three games of football and played against ten men for about an hour.

Wellington are coming off a decent result, drawing 1-1 with high-flying Western Sydney on a disgraceful pitch in Wollongong.

Louis D’Arrigo battles for possession against Wellington Phoenix in Round 1.

Bozhidar Kraev looks like the real danger man for the Phoenix. After a slowish start to the season, he’s scored four goals in his last five games. Playing off the left side, he’s been able to find himself in dangerous positions and make the opposition pay. Adelaide will need to keep an eye on the Bulgarian if they want to come away with something.

The Nix also have one of the most underrated players in the league up front in David Ball. If he were playing in Australia or at a top-four club, which he’s more than capable of, in my opinion, you’d hear far more about him than you do. For me, he’s as dangerous as Kraev, another player the Reds’ defence will need to keep quiet.

Wellington never take a backward step, and Oli Sail’s altercation with Wanderers’ Marcelo on the weekend shows just how keen Wellington are to have an impact this season. I think if you offered Carl Veart a point right now, he’d be very tempted to take it.

On Monday, the Australian Professional League announced the next three A-leagues Grand Finals will be played in Sydney, sending Twitter into a meltdown, and rightly so. I’m sure Adelaide fans remember the excitement and buzz around the whole of South Australia when the Reds secured the Grand Final in 2016. Although the occasion was ultimately made memorable due to winning a historic first championship, it would have been a day to remember regardless of the result.

Seeing over 50,000 fans pack out Adelaide Oval in a sea of Red is a thing of the past or at least for the next few years anyway. I can’t understand how they would make such an unpopular decision. Yes, the game needs funding, but not at the expense of the people who love it most.

The club has made a statement saying: “As a proud club dedicated to the people of South Australia, we believe the decision has not been made in the best interests of our fans”.

Forever the people’s team!

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