Adelaide United Youth’s push to move further away from the relegation zone experienced a setback following a 4-2 loss to Adelaide Blue Eagles at Marden Sports Complex on Tuesday night.
The Young Reds struggled to dictate the match on their terms, lacking in intensity and physicality that is often synonymous with their style.
They fell behind inside six minutes when Hamish McCabe dispossessed his opponent, clinically finishing past James Delianov.
Mohamed Toure responded four minutes later with a composed one-on-one effort before Blue Eagles regained the lead through Frederick Ankumah-Sey’s tap-in off a low cross.
The hosts then made it 3-1 after the interval when Christian Sotira’s opportunistic, curling strike looped into the top corner from just outside the area.
Some impressive wing-play from Yaya Dukuly saw his crossed inadvertently turned in by Chol Wel to make for a tense ending, but the bottom-placed side put the game to bed thanks to Agar Mawan’s angled finish on 84 minutes.
Airton Andrioli lamented his side’s lack of desperation, believing that was ultimately the difference between the two teams.
“I guess last night was more of a type of game where one team was more desperate than the other,” Andrioli said.
“It looked like Blue Eagles were absolutely desperate for the result and they actually deserved the win.
“They played a good game, they were winning first and second balls and were a little more desperate.
“I think our boys, I’m not sure if mentally or whatever the reason was, but it looked like we weren’t as desperate as they were.
“And you know in football when you play against a team like them and the situation they’re in and they’ve got nothing to lose, they’ll come out and play with no fear.
“We gifted them three goals, the first two and then third one in the second-half and that helps them which is desperate not to get relegated.
“So credit to them, they played well and were the better team last night. I don’t say that very often, but I think last night we didn’t have the desperation to win the game that we normally do.”
Four outfield players from the senior squad dropped down to play and Andrioli felt it was reasonable to suggest it impacted the performance, largely due to the differing fitness levels given they are currently in preseason and not playing regular games.
Louis D’Arrigo, Al Hassan Toure, Mohamed Toure and Yaya Dukuly all featured last night to increase their fitness loads ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.
He also suggested while their inclusions are extremely beneficial on paper and does make them stronger, it can however disrupt the overall rhythm of the team as it takes time to adapt to new teammates.
“In football you don’t drop players together and expect them to play (well immediately),” he said.
“I think there’s a process in place which we try to implement and it’s not just a fact that those players are coming down, it’s also the fact that they’re in a different part of their fitness levels.
“They’re doing pre-season, they’re not match fit those boys. So they’re actually coming down to complement that and that was the idea behind it.
“But it can be positive, but then you rely more on the individuals rather than the collective and football is a collective game. You need to know how to exploit each other’s strengths and weaknesses, but it has to be done together.
“(Otherwise) it can be disruptive. It looks very good on paper (having A-League players drop down), but not necessarily for the reasons I just stated.
“Those boys aren’t playing games regularly, so from that point of view we were disappointed mainly because we lacked that bit of desperation to go there and take the game to the opposition.”
The Young Reds lie four points above the relegation zone, but Andrioli said his side cannot think about that and simply concentrate on their next game against MetroStars on Saturday.
“We’re just going to try to refocus and regroup,” he insisted, as United have three league games remaining.
“We had a game on Saturday and a game yesterday, obviously a short turnaround.
“We just going to try and prepare the players for the next game and hopefully we can get possibly one or two results.
“I feel like one more game (win), we’ll be in a good spot not to have to worry about that (relegation).
“It’s just a matter of regrouping now and going back to what we were doing before because the game against Adelaide Olympic (last Saturday), was an outstanding performance.
“We played really well like we normally do, so just want to go back to that and hopefully things will turn around and we get a result on the weekend.”