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Mar 12, 2022   |  3:40PM AET

Reds ready for maiden finals match

Reds ready for maiden finals match

It is the moment Adelaide United has been waiting for in its 14-year history and on Sunday afternoon the Reds will play their maiden finals game.

Adelaide United host fierce rival Melbourne Victory in a huge semi-final clash at Coopers Stadium in the biggest clash since the team’s inception.

Win and Adrian Stenta’s side live to fight another day and face the loser of Sydney FC and Melbourne City. Lose and its record-breaking season abruptly ends.

Sunday’s match will be the third meeting between the two teams this campaign with both sides securing a win each.

Melbourne Victory dispatched United 5-1 on the opening round before the South Australians responded with an impressive 3-0 triumph just a fortnight ago.

The Reds’ three-match winning streak concluded on the final round of the regular season after a 1-0 loss to the Sky Blues and it is hoped that result will not impact their momentum.

Surprisingly, Victory are winless in its previous five games, but despite its recent shortcomings remain a dangerous outfit.

It shapes up to be a fascinating encounter involving the third and fourth placed squads. 

Team news

Emily Condon is available available for selection and it will be up to Head Coach Adrian Stenta how much of a role she will play. Paige Hayward has returned to training and could be back in the squad should the Reds qualify for the Preliminary Final.

What the expert says

Teo Pellizzeri: There’s a clear favourite and clear underdog for this fixture given Victory’s form line, injury and suspension issues coming into this match. The only equaliser could be potential nerves or inexperience for Adelaide plus the pressure of expectation, something that has been a rarity for the vast majority of the club’s 14 years in W-League / ALW.

Georgia Yeoman-Dale: United come in to this one in top form, a 1-0 loss to Sydney in the last round of the season doesn’t speak to the way the team is playing at the moment. Victory on the other hand are probably a bit lucky to sneak into the finals this year with form slipping at the later end of the season.

One to watch

Teo Pellizzeri: We haven’t seen Emily Condon since February 13 and her absence has been felt in the Adelaide midfield. Given Condon has been subbed off in eight of her 11 appearances this season it’s unrealistic to expect a 90+ minute performance coming back from a hamstring injury. It means every minute we do see from her in this game will be vital.

Georgia Yeoman-Dale: You can’t go past Fiona Worts, top goal scorer in prolific form.

Key battle

Teo Pellizzeri: With Kyra Cooney-Cross suspended for Melbourne Victory it means the away team will have to trade a bit of flair and creativity for pragmatism. But that might actually help Victory’s transition defence through midfield and create roadblocks for – depending on who starts – Condon, Holmes, Sasaki and Omiya. Adelaide born and raised Alex Chidiac will have to put Victory on her back if she is to carry the team to a win.

Georgia Yeoman-Dale: Chidiac versus Worts, both the creative play makers for their sides. If they’re off the team is off.

One change you’d like to see

Teo Pellizzeri: The burning question for Victory is if Melina Ayres can start after barely 20 minutes off the bench in her first appearance of the season last week. The goal sneak has been battling a persistent hamstring injury all season but now looms as a surprise wildcard just in time to ask new and different questions of the Adelaide defence. Amazingly Ayres has not scored in six career appearances against Adelaide so the script does seem written for her to have some sort of say on proceedings here.

Georgia Yeoman-Dale: It will be good to see Sasaki back for United, I think she was really missed last week.

Head-to-head

Played: 22
Wins: 5
Draws: 2
Losses: 15

Last three meetings

3-0 win (H)
5-1 loss (A)
0-1 loss (H)

Prediction

Teo Pellizzeri: We haven’t seen a penalty shoot-out in this league since 2016, but games making it to extra time has been something of a regular occurrence at the semi-final stage. However, I don’t think stage fright will get the better of Adelaide and they should be able to maximise the various advantages of home ground, form and player availability. Have the right plan to contain Alex Chidiac and I suspect it will be one final, one win for the home team.

Georgia Yeoman-Dale: Adelaide United will be too good for Victory. At home, first time in finals and Worts and Dawber in top form.

Match details:
Sunday, 13 March vs Melbourne Victory
Liberty A-League 2021/22 – Semi-final 2
Kick-off 3.35pm ACDT
Gates open: 3pm
Venue: Coopers Stadium
Broadcast: 10 Bold
Stream: Paramount+