Adelaide United: cleaning up Australia one Victorian team at a time as a set-piece feast saw them become 3-1 victors over Melbourne City in round 17.
Adelaide had experienced 4 seasons in the few days leading up to the clash: a bit of summer with 42+ degree temperatures, some winter downpours, some spring storms, and season 15/16 vibes with the January signing of Stefan Mauk, who got mutual with Brisbane. Well, we all know what happened last time Mauk joined Adelaide in January…
Post Mauk-announcement, the team news looked shaky with Troisi out (muscle injury), McGree a 50/50 to play following foot concerns, Lia crossing the Nullarbor to Perth, and Mr Fruchoc (Big Bash) falling victim to Adelaide only having one lovable round chocolate man suit, but two sporting events on in the one evening. Then there was the news of Toure’s stress fracture to his metatarsal following Olyroos duty, with the club releasing a statement that his time on the sidelines is currently indefinite. Now, I must admit, this scares me. For Adelaide to use the words ‘indefinitely’ is unprecedented. This is the same club that continually popped (4 weeks) next to Diawara’s name in the ‘Outs’ section, only for us to see the guy emerge about 12 months later. Such mid-week news had me wishing Mauk was available to play for his former team this week, rather than his former team next week. Or could one of our Visa imports not be running the lines in a lower tier game…or could our last year’s import not have also been doing lines…
Alas, we are a team who work with what we’ve got and it didn’t take long following the opening whistle for none of the above to matter. Big Ben Halloran donged in a shot to the bottom right corner following some box ping pong post corner in the 12th minute to open the scoring.
The lead lasted about as long as Adelaide Airport’s curfew, with Noone holding City together like the only person in the household who changes the toilet roll (yeah you’re right, no one does that either) to equalise in the 16th off a Maclaren assist (the only time we heard from the bloke all evening).
The equaliser didn’t seem to particularly spur on either side for the next 20 or so minutes, with the action dying down. The breakthrough came in the 41st as Adelaide’s performance became bigger than Ben Hhhh-lloran. City once again became goners during corners, as Ben’s header bounced into the bottom left corner of the goal to bring up Benny’s brace.
Having not previously scored from a corner all season, United were not done turning set pieces into a piece of piss just yet. George Blackwood’s head found Konstandopoulos’ corner cross in the 45th+2 to extend Adelaide’s lead before the break and I was ready to kiss the heads of every United player Hans Moleman style at this point.
No gusto seemed to have been lost on Adelaide’s behalf in the second. Halloran went for his hattrick in the 61st, but his shot went left of the post. McGree had his chance to get his name on the board against his former side in the 65th after an Opseth assist, but he too couldn’t quite get his shot on target.
Sensing this was going nowhere fast for City, Delbridge sought an early exit in the 76th by taking down Adelaide’s big Nik energy. Delbridge initially saw yellow from King, until VAR recommended a sideline review, to see the card upgraded to red. The early shower saw Delbridge join the esteemed club of Boogaard and Berisha, who are the only other A-Leaguers this century to see a hat trick of reds in the one season, knuckling this gong down only 13 season appearances deep.
Adelaide took the 3 points to bed following 3 goals in their 3rd straight win to maintain 5th, with only another 3 points separating them from 2nd position as they next face Brisbane away. Whilst Mombaerts and his former M.Hearts will be a Delbridge short as they enter the MeLbOuRnE dErBy next week.
By Hayley Routley