Stenta ‘proud’ of Reds fight back

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Adelaide United Liberty A-League coach Adrian Stenta was proud of the way his side fought to the end against Canberra United in Sunday’s season opening four-all draw.

After taking an early lead, Stenta’s side trailed until a 94th minute equaliser by substitute Emilia Murray earned a share of the points.

While he was pleased to get something out of what he described as a “chaotic” game, Stenta knows there is plenty to work on ahead of Friday evening’s game against newcomer Central Coast.

Missing several experienced players including experienced defenders Isabel Hodgson and Maruschka Waldus, the Reds pushed Canberra all the way at Coopers Stadium.

Given the side’s difficulty to score goals at times last season, and after promising an attacking brand of football this year, Stenta was happy to see his side hitting the back of the net four times, and excited about the depth at his disposal for the 2023/24 campaign.

Adrian Stenta on how the game played out:

“From an attacking sense, we had a lot of trouble scoring goals last year, so to score four goals is a real positive. But obviously, we don’t want to be a side that’s conceding that many goals.

“Considering we’ve got a few players out and a lot of new players to integrate in a short space of time. I’m really happy with the intent that our players showed, and that they fought all the way to the end.

“They’ve been honestly fantastic since they stepped foot into the club. Whether returning players, existing players, or whether the new players who have integrated into our team, I’m really happy for them. It’s continued a theme from the preseason, where we’ve been scoring more goals and controlling games as well.”

Adrian Stenta on being proud of the way the side defended, despite conceding four goals:

I don’t think we got opened up necessarily. We made some poor mistakes defensively. I think for me, it’s more being mentally switched on and just trying to cut those mistakes out. And we had a really young centre back pairing – Zoe Tolland, a scholarship player who I thought was really good, and Ella Tonkin who seems like she’s more experienced than she is because of the way she plays, but she missed most of last season with a broken foot. I was really happy with how the individual defenders went, we just want to be better at defending collectively as a team.”

Adrian Stenta on having more attacking options this season:

“That’s purposely how I went about putting the team together, I wanted to have a number of options that we can utilise and play with, and especially in the attacking half. So, everyone’s got a role in the squad and I’ve got confidence that whoever we put in, can provide us with what we need moving forward.

“We’ve been working a lot on our offensive cohesion in our preseason. And to be fair, those players are probably the players that have been most available for training as well. If you look at our injuries they have mainly been in defensive midfield and defence, so most of our attacking players have been there. They’ve formed a really good relationship on the field but important off the field as well during the off-season. We’ve got a lot to improve on, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like it was a positive step forward.”

Adrian Stenta on goalkeeper Annalee Grove’s involvement in two of the goals the side conceded:

“In the first half, we had three chances inside the six-yard box to put the ball in but we didn’t, that’s a mistake as well. But if you’re a goalkeeper, everyone talks about it. No doubt if you asked whether she would like those moments back again, I’m sure she’d probably say yes, but we’ve got full faith in her. And we want her to continue to play with an aggressive mindset. She’s been a fantastic leader for us for a long period of time.”

Adrian Stenta on the 2,834 people who came to watch the game at Coopers Stadium on Sunday:

“I’m thankful that so many people turned up to watch. The atmosphere was great. We’d like even more people to come to our next game on Friday afternoon because we are going to be an exciting side to watch.

While it was probably not quite what I had in mind when I was sitting there thinking about how the game might pan out, I still think there’s plenty of positives to take away from the game.”

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