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What went right, what went wrong vs Wellington Phoenix

Javi Lopez

A pulsating contest at Netstrata Jubilee between Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix ended 1-1 thanks to Bernardo’s stoppage-time equaliser.

Gael Sandoval struck first for the hosts on 20 minutes and in the second-half, Wellington squandered several promising counter-attacks to increase their lead.

Their profligacy came back to haunt them when 17-year-old Bernardo, son of Reds legend Cássio, popped up at the back post to squeeze his header from Josh Cavallo’s cross past Oliver Sail for his debut goal.  

Adelaide provisionally occupy fourth spot on the table, however teams below them do have games in hand.

WHAT WENT RIGHT. WHAT WENT WRONG.

What went right: Reds’ mount late comeback again

It is starting to become a broken record, but yet again Adelaide finished the game the stronger of the two teams and consequently produced another fightback from a trailing position. Bernardo’s leveller means Adelaide has now recovered points from losing situations in six games this season which translates to 10 points. Of the 18 goals Adelaide has scored this campaign, remarkably 14 have arrived in the second-half. A combination of luck, persistence and stamina are contributing factors, and while the character shown deserves praising, we are certain Carl Veart and his team would much rather prefer a game where they are more in control and not chasing. Conceding first is still a concern with the Reds typically slow starters this season, something that needs to be rectified.

What went wrong: Turnover leads to goal

Wellington’s opener arrived after a penetrating pass from Lachlan Barr – intended for Stefan Mauk – was intercepted by Alex Rufer, which allowed the Phoenix to transition at lightning speed. Reno Piscopo found David Ball and he then played in Gael Sandoval and the Mexican clinically dispatched his finish under the onrushing Joe Gauci.

What went right: Barr overall impressive

While Lachlan Barr may have been at fault for the goal, the 27-year-old was otherwise flawless in just his second Isuzu UTE A-League start. From an aerial perspective he was absolutely immense, winning nine clearances, four duels in the air and one interception. The towering centre-back won countless defensive headers to relieve some of the pressure off the back four. Barr is appearing more and more comfortable at this level after making the jump up from Adelaide City in the NPL SA. An impressive outing.

What went wrong: Caught out in transition too many times

If it was not for Michael Jakobsen, Javi Lopez, and Joe Gauci, Adelaide would have lost this match. The two defenders illustrated their experience to make a couple of vital interceptions when the Reds defensively were left stranded. Jakobsen and López were both outnumbered from Wellington counter-attacks yet their positioning, and ability to read the impending danger enabled them to delay the Phoenix players enough and commit timely tackles. Structurally at times, Adelaide’s rest defence was seemingly non-existent, somewhat understandable with numbers being thrown forward in the hope of salvaging a result. However, it left the Reds vulnerable. A two v one or three v one situation is not something a defender wants to be consistently exposed to.

What went right: Bernardo scores debut goal

Introduced at half-time, Bernardo left it late to make his impact and thus wrote his name all over the fixture with a first goal in professional football on his 11th league appearance. The 17-year-old became the third youngest player in Reds history to score for the Club behind Mohamed Toure and Nestory Irankunda. The two substitutes combined when Josh Cavallo’s deep, floated cross was met by a forceful header from Bernardo that proved too powerful for goalkeeper Oliver Sail to keep out. A special moment for the winger who has enjoyed a really promising campaign.

What went right: Gauci decisive

Joe Gauci deserves a special mention for constantly keeping Adelaide in with a chance. The 21-year-old goalkeeper endured a busy afternoon, making seven saves and three punches. His stop to deny Clayton Lewis in the second-half was impressive, as was his brilliant swat to prevent Reno Piscopo’s chipped attempt from adding to the lead just before half-time when the Phoenix midfielder was through on goal. A performance like that will only build confidence.

What went right: Clough occupied good areas on debut

New English signing Zach Clough’s brief cameo certainly demonstrated glimpses of what Reds fans can expect in the coming matches. In the short time on the park in his first taste of Australian football, the attacking midfielder took up good spaces between the lines – demonstrated by his half-turn from outside the box and eventual shot. His silky touches on the ball is encouraging as he is clearly technically very sound in possession. With more minutes, the 26-year-old will hopefully be an influential player.

Match details:
Saturday, 12 February
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 – Matchweek 14
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Sandoval 20’)
Adelaide United 1 (Bernardo 90+2’)
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Attendance: 797