Adelaide steal Durante’s thunder

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 13 – 2017/2018 – Round 18
7:45pm, Saturday 27 January, 2018 – Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 0
lost to
Adelaide United FC 1 (George Blackwood 32′)

Adelaide United brought Wellington Phoenix’s recent form revival to an abrupt end at Westpac Stadium on January 27, the visitors prevailing 1-0 in an uninspiring Hyundai A-League encounter played in front of 6,746 fans.

Aside from incidents inside the first two minutes, when Andrija Kaludjerovic forced a corner straight from the kick-off, then had the ball flicked away from him by Ersan Gulum just as he was poised to turn home Andrew Durante’s flick-on of Matthew Ridenton’s corner, the opening twenty minutes of the match were fairly sterile, and that’s being polite.

Wellington were hoping to mark the match in style for Durante, who was making a record-equalling 278th A-League appearance. They went close to breaking the deadlock in the twentieth minute, when another Ridenton corner was punched out by Paul Izzo to Adam Parkhouse – a late change to the starting line-up after Roy Krishna withdrew with a hamstring issue.

His replacement’s angled cross picked out Thomas Doyle, whose header inside ricocheted off Jordan Elsey and flew narrowly past the right-hand post of the stranded figure of Izzo, who brilliantly tipped away a twenty-five yarder from Parkhouse six minutes before half-time.

By that time, Adelaide had taken the lead. After fullback Ryan Strain had got to the by-line on the right and caused consternation in Wellington’s defence as he looked to set up the lively Jordan O’Doherty, the visitors made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute.

George Blackwood worked a headed one-two with O’Doherty on half-way and surged between Durante and makeshift central defender Goran Paracki. Bearing down on goal, he gleefully nutmegged advancing goalkeeper Lewis Italiano from the edge of the penalty area to open the scoring.

Parkhouse’s effort apart, Wellington offered little in response before the interval, by which time the visitors could well have doubled their advantage via one of a couple of Daniel Adlung free-kicks.

Italiano plucked the first of them off the head of the rock-solid Gulum four minutes before the interval, then parried the German’s thirty yard effort to safety as a generally dour half drew to a close.

The visitors engineered the first chances of the second spell, with Ben Garuccio and Blackwood combining to send O’Doherty darting to the by-line in the 52nd minute. He pulled the ball for the game’s lone goalscorer to attempt to double his tally, but from six yards, Blackwood succeeded in slicing his shot so badly that it went out for a throw-in!

Three minutes later, a vital tackle by Durante thwarted Ryan Kitto as he looked to exploit an acrobatic clearance from Strain, a player whose surname has doubtless prompted lots of ribbing on those occasions when he has been injured!

Wellington produced their best attacking spell of the match around the hour mark. Matija Ljujic, soon to deputise for the injured Kaludjerovic as a makeshift striker, sent a thirty yard free-kick sizzling past the post as the hour mark rolled round, while a Ridenton cross-shot clipped the crossbar soon after, substitute Sarpreet Singh having combined with Nathan Burns to create the opening on the left.

Adelaide survived a string of Wellington corners soon afterwards, to which United responded a brief flurry of opportunities, led by Garuccio’s thirty yard free-kick in the 67th minute.

That went narrowly past the post, while his corner three minutes later picked out the head of Gulum, whose thumping header flashed past the upright around which Italiano had parried the ball after Nikola Mileusnic had charged down the right into the penalty area and let fly.

Ten minutes from time, Italiano blocked another effort to safety, this time from Blackwood, whose solo raid saw him take on two opponents before unleashing a twenty-yarder.

Wellington then went desperately close to equalising, Izzo tipping Michael McGlinchey’s twenty-five yarder to safety five minutes from time, soon after which substitute Alex Rufer hit the bar after Burns, McGlinchey and the well-performed Doyle had combined on the left.

Substitute Mark Ochieng’s attempt to confirm Adelaide’s victory in stoppage time was thwarted by Italiano, but the visitors had already done enough to secure a win a match which concluded in bizarre fashion, the already substituted Kaludjerovic being booked for dissent by referee Shaun Evans, while on the bench.

Match details

Crowd: 6,746

Wellington Phoenix FC: Italiano (gk); Galloway (booked, 42) (Rufer, 81), Durante (booked, 72), Paracki, Doyle; McGlinchey, Ridenton, Ljujic; Parkhouse (Rogerson, 90), Kaludjerovic (booked, 90) (Singh, 58), Burns

Adelaide United FC: Izzo (gk); Strain, Elsey (booked, 15), Gulum, Garuccio (booked, 48); Konstandopoulos, Adlung, O’Doherty (booked, 78) (Regan, 90); Kitto, Blackwood (Stametelopoulos, 90), Mileusnic (Ochieng, 74)

Points and ratings

Match 3/10
Pitch 8/10

Referee: Shaun Evans 5/10

Player points
3. Gulum
2. Adlung
1. Doyle