Adelaide United has stayed in the race for the Premiers’ Plate with a 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets on Sunday, but injuries to influential playmaker Marcelo Carrusca and Nigel Boogaard could be a concern.
Carrusca was forced off before half-time with a quad injury but not before giving the Reds the lead which they took to the break.
The Jets pushed hard for an equalizer but wasted a host of good chances, meaning they remain on the bottom of the Hyundai A-League ladder.
Adelaide then finished the contest with 10-men after Boogaard was stretchered off in a neck brace after falling awkwardly on his head, after they had already made all three substitutions.
“It’s very tight at the top, I think there’s about three points between the top five so it was crucial that we got the win today. This has always been a bit of a hard place for us to come… at this time of the season it’s about the points really.” – Adelaide United winger Craig Goodwin
“It’s disappointing, I thought we played well. We put a lot of pressure on them and I think they didn’t play their normal game, they struggled to play out a bit with our pressing. It’s disappointing not to get a result.” – Newcastle Jets defender Daniel Mullen
0-1 Carrusca (28’) – A delightful chipped ball over the top of the Jets defence by Isaias had Sergio Cirio bearing down on goal but he shot straight at Ben Kennedy. The ball rebounded off the ‘keeper into the path of Carrusca who kept his shot low, going off despite a slight touch off the boot of Daniel Mullen.
Just after the midway point of the first half the Jets really should have taken the lead. Edson Montano got in behind Adelaide’s back four and squared the ball to the far post. The ball was slightly behind Enver Alivodic but the Serbian showed great awareness to play it back to an on-rushing Mitch Cooper about 10 yards from goal. Cooper’s strike was destined for the back of the net but somehow Dylan McGowan got back on the line to clear it away with his left foot at full stretch. It was a vital block as just five minutes later the Reds were in front and they weren’t to be pegged back.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
The win snapped a three-game losing streak away from home for Adelaide United and it was their first clean sheet since their 7-0 drubbing of the Jets way back in January. It was just Newcastle second home loss to the Reds from the last seven matches, while Carrusca’s goal makes him Adelaide’s leading scorer this season with seven.
The two goal-keepers were superb, doing their best to try and out-do each other with a string of fine saves. Eugene Galekovic might have been left out of the recent Socceroos squad but his form hasn’t dropped and he made a number of vital saves to deny the likes of Mitch Cooper, Edson Montano and Enver Alivodic on numerous occasions. And Ben Kennedy also had his moments, producing a brilliant stop right on the stroke of half-time to deny Bruce Djite and another after the break from Sergio Cirio which was top drawer.
Worrying signs for the Reds as playmaker Carrusca limped off just before the break with a quad injury on his right leg injury. Given Carrusca’s importance to Adelaide, they will hope it’s nothing serious with the finals just a month away. Boogaard also didn’t finish the match, stretchered off in a neck brace after landing awkwardly on his head and shoulders while challenging for a ball with Ben Kennedy.
Early in the second half the Jets really should have been level but for a horrible miss by Montano. Jacob Pepper played in a dangerous cross from the right which fizzed across the goal past a slew of players to the Ecuadorian at the back post. Montano got his left boot to it but not enough contact, the ball hitting the post and going wide, much to the disbelief of coach Phil Stubbins.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Jets coach Phil Stubbins decided to go with a back five in an attempt to close down the spaces in between his defenders for the Reds midfielders to exploit with their pin-point passing. But it meant they were outnumbered and totally over-run in midfield, with the visitors controlling large chunks of possession and still creating chances in behind and around the box. Adelaide were especially threatening down their left as Sergio Cirio and Craig Goodwin gave Nick Cowburn and Jacob Pepper a torrid time.
THE FINAL WORD
Newcastle next chance to try and get off the bottom of the Hyundai A-League comes on Easter Monday as a resurgent Perth Glory visit Hunter Stadium. The Reds will be involved in a blockbuster clash against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.