Adelaide United snapped a four-game winless run with a vital 1-0 victory over Macarthur FC at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.
Hiroshi Ibusuki’s goal right before the interval proved decisive as United got its campaign back on track to provisionally jump into fourth place in the standings.
WHAT WENT RIGHT. WHAT WENT WRONG.
What went right: Reds break goal-drought
On the stroke half-time, Adelaide finally broke its goal-scoring drought of what almost would have been the equivalent of four matches. Never before had the hosts gone four games without a goal, and fortunately that unwanted recorded was not realised. Craig Goodwin’s stunning free-kick against the Western Sydney Wanderers on March 16 was the last time United found the back-of-the-net.
However, Ibusuki cracked the deadlock with a close-range header off Goodwin’s pinpoint right-footed cross following a sensational team move. Lachlan Brook controlled a diagonal pass from Alexandar Popović and he dribbled forward drawing defenders to him before feeding a pass to Goodwin, who checked onto his right and clipped a delightful ball to the back-post for the Japanese talisman.
What went right: Hiroshi Ibusuki simply brilliant
Hiroshi Ibusuki was immense again for Adelaide and his signing has been an astute one. His goal was his fifth for the Reds since joining in January, but simply judging his season by the number of goals scored would be a bit of an injustice. Indeed, scoring with consistency for a striker is imperative, but the 31-year-old’s all-round game is equally impressive. His hold-up play and ability to bring others into the contest is first-class and demonstrated some great combinations with the likes of Craig Goodwin and Josh Cavallo down the left flank. He even dropped deep to collect the ball as the game wore on, sparking attacking manoeuvres. We won’t say it was Harry Kane-like, but we won’t not say it was Harry Kane-like.
What went wrong: Wasteful in attack
The Reds profligacy has plagued Adelaide all campaign. While they did collect the three points, they should have killed the game off much earlier and not have to scrap in the final minutes, and desperately defend their area. As the game became stretched United’s young guns off the bench had great opportunities to put the match to bed but squandered their attempts. Certainly an aspect that needs to be improved on, but for now the most important thing was just picking up three points. And as the old adage goes, you’d rather at least be creating opportunities than not.
What went right: Popovic’s assured display, clean sheet achieved
In just his third appearance and second start of his professional career, Alexandar Popović delivered another promising performance. The 19-year-old centre-back was composed under pressure, carried the ball forward and looked to play passes into the midfield that would subsequently help open the game up, playing alongside Isaías with Lachlan Barr back on the bench but nearing a return to start. He even came close to scoring a bullet header had it not been for a wonderful Filip Kurto save.
Carl Veart praised his young defender in the post-match press conference, lauding Popović’s defensive attributes first and foremost and said his distribution was an added bonus, while acknowledging a couple of small mistakes in the game. However, overall it was a strong display, helping the team keep their fourth clean sheet of the season, and another local South Australian getting a deserved chance at this level.
What went right: First win in five
The significance of a triumph could not have been more overstated following the Reds’ frustrating run of results. Carl Veart admitted his team’s record at Coopers Stadium this campaign has not been the best, so collecting a fourth win on home soil was fundamental in order to remain in finals contention. They managed to dig in and compete physically, while also creating several chances. A trip to Sydney FC awaits the side on Tuesday after the hard-fought clash, before three home matches conclude the regular season.
Friday, 8 April
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 – Matchweek 22
Adelaide United 1 (Ibusuki 45+1′)
Macarthur FC 0
Venue: Coopers Stadium