Hyundai A-League Season 6

Captain’s strike fires Adelaide past Wellington
By Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of

A-League 2010/2011 - Elimination Semi Final
Friday 18 February, 2011
at Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide

Adelaide United FC 1
(Travid Dodd 70')
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

(Linked from FFA site)

A captain’s strike from Adelaide United’s Travis Dodd twenty minutes from the end of the first Hyundai A-League Play-Offs fixture on February 18 allowed his team to edge out Wellington Phoenix 1-0 and advance to a semi-final at the same Hindmarsh Stadium venue in a week’s time.

In a close, error-strewn, rain-soaked encounter watched by 10,285 fans, it was the visitors who enjoyed the better of the early exchanges, with Manny Muscat and Tim Brown both testing Eugene Galekovic with twenty-five yard efforts during a sixty-second spell just after the tenth minute.

The ‘keeper proved equal to their low-struck efforts, making light of the added challenge posed by the slippery conditions, with play through the middle of the park in particular proving to be rather challenging, the slush slowing up the ball and rendering flowing football far more difficult to accomplish than usual.

Only a vital tackle from Cassio thwarted Troy Hearfield in the eighteenth minute, as Brown and Dylan MacAllister opened up Adelaide’s rearguard. Wellington continued to pile on the pressure at this point, via a succession of corners.

Marco Rojas’ 21st minute delivery deep beyond the far post picked out Andrew Durante, whose header inside allowed Nick Ward to let fly with an acrobatic effort. Galekovic tipped this to safety, but was relieved to see a cross from the same player ricochet to safety off Dario Bodrusic, as Adelaide’s ‘keeper was completely wrong-footed by the ball’s sudden change of direction, and would have been in trouble had it been goal-bound.

The home team were unsighted as an attacking force throughout the first half-hour, so impressive were the efforts of the outstanding Ben Sigmund and his colleagues. But the Wellingtonians soon found themselves on the back foot following a slip by Ward.

The midfielder’s loss of footing in the slush gave Marcos Flores an opening which he came close to taking, deftly side-stepping a couple of challenges before lifting an eighteen-yarder over the bar in the 32nd minute.

Sixty seconds later, Adelaide were in again, this time via a Dodd free-kick. Van Dijk rose high on the far post to meet his captain’s pinpoint delivery, but was unable to direct his close-range header on target.

Danny Vukovic was called upon to make his first save of the match a minute before half-time, ironically after Wellington’s best move of the half - an enchanting interchange of passing which was just two passes away from opening the scoring - had foundered on the impressively performed Nigel Boogaard.

His headed clearance picked out Van Dijk, whose sumptuous flicked header invited Flores to spray a first-time pass into the stride of Cassio, as the fullback burst forward on the counter-attack. He got to the edge of the penalty area before letting fly, only to see Vukovic foil his effort at the near post.

Wellington looked to respond in kind before the interval, and went to the dressing rooms at the break probably feeling they were worth a one-goal lead. Instead, the scoreless scoreline depicted the game’s generally tight nature, which continued unabated into the second half.

Adelaide were first to fire a shot in anger this time, with Vukovic right behind Andy Slory’s twenty-five-yarder just three minutes into the second spell. Five minutes later, Van Dijk looked to be offside when he received a pass from Dodd, but he still didn’t get the chance to race in on goal - Durante stepped in to check his progress, albeit with a hint of handball in the process.

Rojas had generally been well contained by Adelaide throughout proceedings, but in the 58th minute he was afforded enough time and space in which to invite Sigmund to join the attack, following a corner. The defender swivelled and delivered a delightful cross which had MacAllister as his target, only for Galekovic to intervene and swat the ball to safety, sparking a counter-attack.

Downfield Adelaide thundered, Dodd and Van Dijk combining superbly, only for the move to break down when the league’s leading scorer played his pass in behind the in-full-flight figure of Flores, an example of the inaccurate passing which all too frequently punctuated what could, potentially, have been a high-quality contest - and would have been had the passing of both teams been consistently up to scratch.

Granted, the slippery conditions were a contributing factor to these shortcomings, and the longer the game went on, the more it seemed likely that a mistake arising from the conditions, rather than a moment of brilliance, would be enough to settle the deadlock and avoid extra time and, if need be, penalties.

Adelaide were in the ascendancy now, and after Vukovic had kept out a Matthew Leckie effort after the substitute had slalomed through three challenges, Wellington’s ‘keeper was grateful to see Rojas perfectly placed to clear off the line from Dodd, after he had met Cassio’s 69th minute corner to the far post with a solid header.

A minute later, Dodd was dancing with delight in front of the Adelaide faithful, having given his team the lead. The architect of the goal was Flores, who tackled the surging figure of Sigmund on half-way and, in the same movement, brilliantly back-heeled the ball to Dodd.

Adelaide’s captain looked up to see Van Dijk accelerating forward inside him, and immediately steered the ball into his path before racing forward in anticipation of a return pass. The number nine duly obliged, and away raced Dodd, clear of the defence and with just Vukovic to beat, a feat he accomplished in fine fashion.

As Wellington reeled from this blow, Adelaide went for the killer second goal, with Leckie playing in Flores. His attempt to curl the ball home kept going straight, however, unlike Rojas’ teasing 76th minute free-kick, which bounced inside the home team’s penalty area and reared up for Durante to direct a header against the crossbar.

Adelaide scrambled the ball clear, and were in again seconds later after a misjudgement by Manny Muscat allowed Van Dijk to scamper clear down the left. He was thwarted by the slush on this occasion, while he was just inches away from meeting Lucas Pantelis’ cross two minutes later, as the substitute’s speed complimented the ball-winning work of Francisco Usucar ten minutes from time.

There was only one team in the match in the final ten minutes. Wellington threw just about everything at Adelaide in a desperate bid to keep their season alive, with even Vukovic joining the attack in the last couple of minutes as the visitors sought the equaliser which would take the game to extra time.

The closest they came to drawing level in this fight to the finish was an effort four minutes from time, in which substitute Paul Ifill - he was clearly short of a gallop - found himself playing the part of the meat in an Adelaide sandwich as Boogaard and Bodrusic thwarted his progress as he looked to convert a neat move which featured Ward, Rojas and Tony Lochhead.

Try as they might, it wasn’t meant to be for Wellington, whose away day blues are now over for another season - their record on the road was one of the biggest disappointments of their campaign, with this match marking the final appearances in black and gold of Vukovic and Hearfield, who for the 2011-12 campaign, will be gracing the colours of Perth Glory and Central Coast Mariners respectively.

Adelaide, meanwhile, march on, and now await the winner of Sunday’s clash between Gold Coast United and Melbourne Victory at Hindmarsh Stadium on the final Sunday in February as their reward for this hard-earned 1-0 win.

A-League 2010/2011 - Elimination Semi Final
Friday 18 February, 2011
at Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide

Adelaide United FC 1
(Travid Dodd 70')
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

    Crowd: 10,285 (rain all day and evening)


    Adelaide United FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 3. Nigel BOOGAARD, 6. CASSIO, 8. Adam HUGHES, 9. Sergio van DIJK, 10. Marcos FLORES (7. Lucas PANTELIS +75’), 11. Andy SLORY (19. Mathew LECKIE +61’), 13.Travis DODD (c), 14. Cameron WATSON, 16. Dario BODRUSIC, 21. Francisco USUCAR (2. Robert CORNTHWAITE +84’)

    Substitutes not used: 17. Iain Ramsay, 30. Mark Birighitti (rgk)

    Coach: Rini Coolen

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards: Nil

    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 13. Troy HEARFIELD (9. Chris GREENACRE +73’), 15. Jade NORTH, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 21. Marco ROJAS (11. DANIEL 88’), 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 23. Dylan MACALLISTER (8. Paul IFILL 61’)

    Substitutes not used: 17.Vince LIA, 20. Reece CROWTHER (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Manny Muscat 4’, Nick Ward 29'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Jarred Gillett 7/10
    Assistant referees: Paul Cetrangolo, Ashley Beecham; Fourth official: Chris Beath

    Pitch rating: 4/10 (sodden)

    Game rating: 5/10

    BOTN Player Points :

    3. Nigel Boogaard (AU)
    2. Ben Sigmund (WP)
    1. Nick Ward (WP)

    Match Report by Jeremy Ruane

Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. Any photos used here, unless attributed, are as supplied or made available by FFA and used by permission.

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