Reds survive late Roar onslaught to edge seven-goal thriller

Adelaide United survived a tirade of late pressure to fend off the fast-finishing Brisbane Roar in a 4-3 thriller at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

Adelaide trailed 1-0 after Henry Hore’s third-minute opener but two goals to Hiroshi Ibusuki and solitary strikes from Stefan Mauk and Harry Van der Saag put the Reds out of sight – or so they thought.

Second-half substitute Thomas Waddingham scored his seventh of the season to bring Brisbane back in the game and Hore secured his brace soon after to set up a manic finish to the contest; Waddingham hit the crossbar with an open header in the final minutes of regular time as Brisbane’s chance to take a point went begging.

The three points confirmed Adelaide will finish the season in eighth place, having earned automatic qualification to the Australia Cup Round of 32 at Brisbane Roar’s expense, who must now attempt to qualify for the tournament via a pre-season playoff.

Brisbane hit the front within three minutes when Henry Hore finished off a rapid team move that transitioned from defence to attack in a flash.

Florin Berenguer collected the ball on the turn and fed Hore down the left wing, who cut onto his right foot and buried a low shot past keeper James Delianov, who should have done better to make the save.

Nikola Mileusnic attempted to double Brisbane’s lead shortly before the half-hour mark with a strike from a similar angle to Hore’s, but from outside the box; Delianov succeeded in blocking the swerving shot.

Brisbane held their slender lead all the way through to the 39th minute when Adelaide got back on level terms through Ibusuki’s close-range finish on the slide.

Zach Clough’s delivery was pinpoint and the Japanese striker timed his run to perfection to score his 14th goal of the season.

Ibusuki didn’t waste time doubling his tally after the break. In fact, the in-form spearhead took less than two minutes to put Adelaide into a second-half lead, heading Ryan Kitto’s pinpoint delivery past Macklin Freke into the bottom-right corner.

Antonee Burke-Gilroy had his hands full in a direct one-on-one with Nestory Irankunda on the left side of Brisbane’s defence but the Roar youngster almost made his impact felt in the attacking third when he went shoulder to shoulder with Irankunda, cut onto his right foot and curled a strike from distance just over the crossbar.

Minutes later, Burke-Gilroy was exposed defensively in a battle with Reds substitute Panashe Madanha who blitzed past his marker to find Stefan Mauk with a cut-back cross for a simple tap-in.

Madanha had only just come off the bench when he assisted Mauk for Adelaide’s third of the night – and it wasn’t long before the 19-year-old was at it again, teeing up Van der Saag to make it 4-1.

Madanha was afforded far too much time to take possession at the back post, turn and pick out Van der Saag to score.

The goals were flowing freely in the second half but after carving out a comfortable three-goal lead, Adelaide reverted to old ways as a crafty volley from substitute Waddingham inspired a Brisbane revival.

Five minutes after Waddingham made it 4-2 with a classy volley on the turn, Hore was left all alone as he ghosted in at the back post to secure his brace with ease as Brisbane closed the gap to just one goal with just under 10 minutes to play.

Waddingham was causeing Adelaide’s defence all sorts of trouble and in the 86th minute, the 19-year-old had a glorious chance to bring Brisbane back on level terms.

Jay O’Shea played an inviting ball toward the six-yard box and Waddingham was all alone as he sent a thunderous header off the crossbar.