Dubious officiating aids Adelaide’s winning cause

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Hyundai A-League – Season 10 – 2014/2015 – Round 6

5pm, Saturday 15 November, 2015 – Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide

Adelaide United FC 2 (Nigel Boogaard 36′, Cirio 90’+4)
Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Bonevacia 15′)

A last-gasp goal, from a free-kick which should have been awarded to Wellington Phoenix, secured a dramatic 2-1 for Adelaide United over their trans-Tasman visitors at Coopers Stadium on 15 November, delighting the 9,726-strong crowd, save for the small pocket of Wellington fans who saw their team robbed of a hard-earned point.

While both Adelaide goals resulted from poor Wellington defending, the influence of referee Strebre Delovski on the outcome of this match cannot be ignored. He had an absolute shocker, producing the classic “hometown ref” display which ensured United were the prime beneficiaries of any contentious 50-50 incidents throughout the game.

The most crucial of these, of course, was the game’s most decisive moment, but he got plenty wrong prior to that in a match which both teams got on with in spite of the officiating – the ultimate condemnation of a referee’s performance.

Adelaide got things under way in stunning fashion, and could well have opened the scoring inside the opening minute. A delightful move down the left featuring Craig Goodwin, Jimmy Jeggo, Marcelo Carrusca and Sergio Cirio culminated in the last-mentioned delivering a cross to the near post for Pablo Sanchez to capitalise upon.

Andrew Durante, who became the fourth player in A-League history to make 200 appearances in the competition in this match, stepped in to avert the danger this time round, while both Carrusca and Awer Mabil gave Glen Moss cause for concern inside the next five minutes, as the FFA Cup finalists sought an early goal.

They very nearly conceded one, however, in the third minute. Following a cleared free-kick, the artful Albert Riera’s clever ball over the defence found Ben Sigmund lurking in the shadows, completely unmarked.

His volley was parried by Eugene Galekovic, who only just managed to recover the bouncing ball before Roy Krishna could pounce. Adelaide’s ‘keeper’s handling was far better in the seventh minute, as he capably dealt with a teasing Nathan Burns cross-shot.

When Burns next featured, in the tenth minute, the former Adelaide star was the recipient of a Vince Lia pass which invited him to whip in a cross for Krishna to convert from close range.

The Fijian was denied from doing so, however, by Tarek Elrich’s superbly timed challenge. This resulted in a corner, which Alex Rodriguez clipped towards the near post. Darting in to meet it was Durante, whose headed flashed inches over the bar as Wellington threatened an early goal to set the cat amongst the pigeons.

It duly arrived in remarkable circumstances on the quarter-hour. Elrich ignited an Adelaide attack with a gorgeously weighted ball over the top for Mabil to exploit through the inside-right channel. He pulled it back into the stride of Sanchez, whose drive was somehow kept out by the wrong-footed figure of Moss.

Durante instantly cleared the loose ball to Krishna, near half-way, and the Fijian flyer instantly set sail towards Adelaide’s goal. Upon reaching the penalty area, with defenders fast closing, he angled a pass inside to Roly Bonavecia, who battered an absolute bullet of a shot into the roof of United’s net from the vicinity of the penalty spot.

1-0 Wellington – definitely not something which was in Adelaide’s script. So they set about rectifying the matter. Carrusca curled one narrowly past the far post after cutting in off the right in the 24th minute, while Mabil hit the same upright five minutes later, after Cirio had engineered the space in which to cross from the left.

The rebound from this effort went straight to the prone figure of Moss – Mabil had beaten him to Cirio’s cross – while Wellington’s ‘keeper tipped a long-range effort from Jeggo round the post soon after, as Adelaide piled on the pressure.

It eventually paid off for the home team nine minutes before half-time. Aided by Carrusca’s deft flick, Mabil made in-roads down the right to earn a corner, which Goodwin delivered into the heart of Wellington’s goalmouth.

Surging through the gathered throngs to meet it was Nigel Boogaard, and his unchallenged header crashed into the back of the net from six yards to earn the home team a deserved share of the spoils at half-time.

There was only one team in it in the second spell. Adelaide bossed possession, but only after surviving a scare straight from the resumption of play. Krishna careered through the inside-left channel, and Galekovic came hurtling out of goal to thwart him, the ‘keeper managing to keep his wits about him to avoid handling the ball as he slid out of the penalty area on the rain-slicked surface.

Cue Adelaide dominance. Carrusca flighted in a delightful 55th minute free-kick to the far post, where Osama Malik was lurking unmarked to meet it with a header. It took a deflection, prompting a parried save by Moss which rebounded off the shin of the retreating figure of Lia, off whom the ball cannoned inches past the post.

Another Carrusca free-kick two minutes later caused further pandemonium in Wellington’s penalty area, as Malik was again left unmarked. This time, the defender directed his header past the post – the visitors were living dangerously.

But generally they were able to contain Adelaide’s advances – for all the possession the home team enjoyed, there was little in the way of an end product to truly threaten Moss’ goal.

Wellington’s ‘keeper was quick to race off his line and gather possession when Malik attempted to play in substitute Fabio Ferreira in the 69th minute, after which the visitors were afforded a rare sighting of United’s goal – one of the few occasions they did so without the offside flag rightly being raised.

This instance came about from an Isaias error, Wellington substitute Alex Rufer catching Adelaide’s midfield anchor in possession and instantly playing the ball through for fellow replacement Kenny Cunningham to fire the visitors back in front.

Just as he was about to do so, however, the Costa Rican was denied by a superbly timed tackle from Boogaard – it was as close as Wellington was to get to pinching the points and ending Adelaide’s fifteen-match unbeaten run on home turf.

Instead, it was all hands on deck for the visitors as the home team mounted an all-out onslaught in an effort to win the match. Referee Delovski assisted Adelaide as best he could by awarding them a number of free-kicks in the closing stages of play, not all of which looked to merit the awarding of a set-piece opportunity.

Jeggo saw his twenty yard effort deflected over the bar, while Cirio missed a sitter from four yards out in the 89th minute, flicking the ball past the post after Goodwin’s corner had been flicked on by Dylan McGowan.

The same three players featured in the move which clinched all three points for Adelaide, with time all but up on the clock. A foul on Krishna was missed (or should that be ignored?) by referee Delovski, but there was frustration aplenty from Wellington players when the whistle blew seconds later to give Adelaide a free-kick deep in stoppage time.

Goodwin delivered the ball onto the head of McGowan, whose header down invited Cirio to hook the ball home, a feat he duly accomplished to the undisguised delight of all present at Coopers Stadium, save for a Wellington side which will rightly feel they deserved a share of the spoils from a game in which Adelaide couldn’t have complained had it finished all-square.
Match details
Adelaide United FC:    Galekovic; Elrich, Malik (booked, 77), Boogaard, Goodwin; Carrusca (Kamau, 71), Isaias, Jeggo (booked, 41); Mabil (Ferreira, 61), Sanchez (McGowan, 79), Cirio

Wellington Phoenix FC:      Moss; Muscat, Sigmund, Durante, Brindell-South; Lia (booked, 45), Riera, Rodriguez (Cunningham, 60); Bonevacia (booked, 54) (Rufer 78), Burns (booked, 33) (Ridenton, 72), Krishna
Match  6/10
Pitch  7/10
Referee:    Srebre Delovski  1/10  – for having the temerity to turn up!
3. Nigel  Boogaard (AU)
2  Andrew Durante (WP)
1  Craig Goodwin (AU)