Adrian Stenta was delighted with the resilience Adelaide United exhibited in its 2-1 comeback win over Canberra United on Sunday.
The visitors opened the scoring through Michelle Heyman, despite suggestions of offside at Marden Sports Complex.
Nanako Sasaki restored parity with a stunning, ferociously hit strike on 23 minutes, before turning provider with a sumptuous scooped pass over the Canberra defence which Emily Condon controlled and slotted her finish beyond the goalkeeper in stoppage time.
“It probably still wasn’t a complete performance,” Stenta said in a post-match interview, as the Reds bounced back with the three points following the opening round loss.
“But I’m just really pleased the girls found a way to win, especially bouncing back what really was a tough result the week before.
“So I thought it was a very resilient performance and hopefully it should hold us in good stead moving forward.”
The Head Coach, now into his second season in charge, admitted he was relatively pleased with how they controlled the game, particularly in the stifling conditions.
“I think it’s important in games like this where it’s tight and close, but also when the weather is challenging to try and keep the ball as much as you possibly can,” he said.
“I thought we were able to do that after perhaps being a little bit erratic with some of our possession early in the game.
“But there’s no easy games in this league as I always say.”
Japanese midfielder Sasaki was extremely impressive in just her second Liberty A-League appearance.
Stenta praised her ability as well as her defensive work-rate.
“I think Nano (Nanako Sasaki) is a quality player,” he continued.
“We’ve always known that she’s a quality player. Really tidy on the ball, and just wanted to see her work really hard in the offseason on her defensive action and effort in the local league.
“I think she’s done that playing for Adelaide Comets and so it’s really good to see her step up and put in a really solid performance, so I’m really happy with Nano.”
Stenta also lauded the manner in which they scored the winner after what was a tough and tense contest.
“Fantastic creativity, great touch under pressure by Em (Emily Condon) and we know that she’s really deadly in the box and can finish,” he said.
“It’s big moments that win games so we were able to stand up in those big moments.
He added that he was thrilled with his side’s defending in set-piece situations and singled out Annalee Grove for a wonderful outing in goal.
“I also thought having conceded a couple of goals from set-pieces last week, I thought our defence in set-piece situations really improved,” he concluded.
“We worked a bit on that this week and I thought Annie Grove had a really good game, coming out strong, claiming balls, punching.
“So it was really pleasing to see her bounce back after a couple of really challenging weeks to start the year for her and her family.”
Next match details:
Saturday, 18 December vs Melbourne City
Liberty A-League 2021/22 – Round 3
Kick-off 4.35pm ACDT
Venue: AAMI Park