Adelaide overcome Ten-man Wellington

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016 – Round 12
4:45pm, Saturday 26 December, 2015 (Boxing Day) – Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide

Adelaide United FC 3 (Muscat o.g. 42′, Goodwin 73′, Marrone 75′)
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

Adelaide United continued their recent unbeaten run at ten-man Wellington Phoenix’s expense at Coopers Stadium on Boxing Day, delighting the 11,655 fans present with a 3-0 win which allowed the victors to close to within two points of the vanquished on the Hyundai A-League table.

There was very little to write home about in the opening twenty minutes of the match, with Roly Bonevacia’s twenty-five yarder sizzling narrowly past Eugene Galekovic’s right-hand post the lone goal threat of note from the visitors during this period, the midfielder having worked a one-two with Alex Rodriguez to engineer the opening.

The home team was similarly subdued as an attacking force, their only threat materialising when a Jimmy Jeggo free-kick wasn’t cleared in the thirteenth minute. Craig Goodwin’s attempt to capitalise saw his twenty yard drive comfortably clear Glen Moss’ crossbar.

Wellington earned a corner in the 21st minute which saw Roy Krishna’s delivery pick out Manny Muscat at the near post. His cushioned dipping volley was tipped over the bar by Galekovic, who had two other saves to make in the first half to keep out long-range efforts from Jeffrey Sarpong and Bonevacia – a thirty yard free-kick – just after the half-hour mark.

Prior to these efforts, United had gone close on a handful of occasions, initially via Jeggo’s cracking twenty-five yarder which only narrowly missed the upright after Sergio Cirio’s break down the left in the 23rd minute.

Soon after, Bruce Djite’s driving run in off the right wasn’t matched by the strength of his shot, which afforded Moss an easy save, something which could not be said for Jeggo’s 27th minute effort, which the Wellington ‘keeper turned round the post after the midfielder had combined with Djite.

The resulting corner, delivered to the near post by Marcelo Carrusca, was met by Jordan Elsey, but Bonevacia was perfectly placed to block his goalbound effort on the line, not that the midfielder knew a great deal about it.

During the flurry of Adelaide attacks, Wellington had a goal disallowed, Rodriguez being denied by the offside flag as he turned home the rebound after Sarpong had evaded the fullback and forced a parried save from Galekovic.

Three minutes before half-time, the net bulged at the other end of the park, and this time it counted. Following a free-kick, Goodwin made his way to the by-line before firing in a low cross which ricocheted into the net off the unfortunate figure of Muscat.

It was a blow Wellington could ill afford, but they set about rectifying matters from the outset of the second spell with a vengeance. Inside a thirty second spell in the 48th minute, they were twice denied penalties, with Krishna being fouled in the area by Dylan McGowan, while Albert Riera was tripped by Elsey – this was a stonewall penalty if ever there was one!

Referee Chris Beath turned a blind eye to both incidents, and missed a clear foul on Bonevacia just outside the area soon after Wellington had produced the best move of the match – a six-man interchange which culminated in Vince Lia and Bonevacia combining with Troy Danaskos on the left.

The fullback – making his first start for Wellington – evaded a challenge before drilling in a cross into the goalmouth. Galekovic could only parry it into the stride of Krishna, who promptly drove the ball goalwards, only for McGowan to fling himself in desperation at the sphere and divert it to safety.

The game changed in the 56th minute courtesy yet another questionable decision by referee Beath, who deemed Riera’s tackle on Jeggo worthy of a yellow card. As the Spaniard had already been booked in the first half – deservedly on that occasion, the red card followed the yellow one, leaving the visitors to see out the match with ten men.

Riera’s departure changed the game entirely. Wellington were already chasing the game, and now United could pick them off on the counter-attack, a tactic they used to telling effect as the game wore on.

Initially, the visitors held out, Andrew Durante blocking a Djite effort before Carrusca shot straight at Moss after Goodwin had orchestrated a raid which also featured Cirio. But after some Keystone Cops defending – and attacking, with Goodwin unable to set up Carrusca to take advantage of Danaskos’ wild clearance which cannoned off a Wellington team-mate, the home team scored twice in two minutes – game over!

In the 73rd minute, Goodwin cut in off the right and let rip from twenty-five yards, a shot Moss would normally deal with without incident. On this occasion, however, his misjudgement resulted in the ball ricocheting off his gloves into the net – 2-0.

Wellington were still reeling from that blow when Adelaide struck again two minutes later. Substitute Pablo Sanchez led a three-on-three charge before bringing Goodwin into play. His shot beat Moss all ends up at his near post, only to cannon off the upright.

Sanchez, following in, was onto the rebound in a flash, and promptly slammed the ball goalwards. This time, it cannoned off the far upright and bounced into the goalmouth where fullback Michael Marrone made light of the fact he was in personal nose-bleed territory to ram the ball home from four yards – 3-0.

Only a despairing tackle by Durante prevented Carrusca from adding a fourth goal soon afterwards, while Goodwin volleyed wide upon receipt of a Tarek Elrich cross, after the fullback had combined with Sanchez and Cirio to exploit Wellington’s numerical inferiority.

Moss turned away Isaias’ twenty-yarder ten minutes from time, and looked on as Sanchez drilled another shot across the face of goal in the dying minutes, by which time Wellington had gone close to scoring a consolation goal.

Bonevacia drove through from midfield before feeding substitute Blake Powell on the left. His low cross zoomed across the bows of fellow replacement Kwabena Appiah-Kubi, but Krishna, following in beyond the far post, was only able to direct his shot into the side-netting.

There was still time for referee Beath to turn down another Wellington penalty claim, for a clear handball offence committed by Elrich. While the ball struck his outstretched arm from an attempt to head clear, Adelaide gained a clear advantage as a result. But this was not the injury-hit visitors’ night, and they now find a United team with momentum just two points behind them on the table in the play-offs race.

Match details

Crowd:  11,655

Adelaide United FC:    Galekovic (gk); Marrone, McGowan, Elsey, Elrich; Carrusca, Isaias (Mells, 83), Jeggo; Goodwin, Djite (Sanchez, 67), Cirio (Dugandzic, 79)

Wellington Phoenix FC:     Moss (gk); Muscat, Lia, Durante, Danaskos; Rodriguez (Ridenton, 73), Bonevacia, Riera (booked, 12, 56 – sent off); Sarpong (Appiah-Kubi, 67), McGlinchey (Powell, 78), Krishna

Referee:    Chris Beath

Ratings and points

Match  6/10
Pitch  8/10
Referee  3/10

Player points:
3.  Goodwin
2.  McGowan
1.  Durante

By Jeremy Ruane