*Except for Ryan Strain, who did in fact strain himself.
It feels like a lifetime since Adelaide last played, with the 16-day downtime making me wonder how on earth I am going to survive the fast-approaching, world’s longest off-season.
The past few weeks has seen a lot of drama in the United camp, as Adelaide announced that Kurz would not see a contract renewal for next season. It has also been approximately 16 days since Ilsø last posted a word-porn story on the Gram after preliminary tests returned positive readings for some Australia day Coke grams.
Although in the past few years a fixture against CCM felt like more of a sure thing than Hoole, AUFC supporters didn’t come in with that same confidence. Given the off-field commotion leading to AUFC being more talked about than customers at Vietnamese nail salons, and being winless in their previous five, it was difficult to know how Adelaide would front up for the final round 23 fixture- would we find ourselves behind the 8-ball? Would we have gathered some speed in those fresh legs? And most importantly, would we baggy some goals?
Adelaide were boosted by the return of Ben Halloran, re-emerging from his longest injury lay-off as a professional player. Marguš and Blackwood also returned to the game-day squad post Olyroos duty, as well as AP despite earlier announcing that he was defecting to the other United next season.
In contrast, Central Coast entered the fixture with hopes of a season turnaround following a win in Stajic’s first match at the helm. The Mariners also sported a dangerous bench, with the likes of Simon, Hoole, and McGlinchey sitting pretty.
The Mariners came out strong in the opener, with their first major chance in the 11th by Jordan Murray following a poor header clearance by Marrone in the centre of the box. Both Strain and Karacan went down in the aftermath, with Strain appearing to come out of it in poor nick but choosing to play on…for an additional 60 seconds before he knew his day was up with a left hamstring injury to give Halloran an early entrance.
Adelaide were handed a strong chance in the 17th, as Kennedy made a weak clearance to palm the ball straight into the path of Galloway, however did well on the second effort to deny Scotty.
United’s typical fart-assing around at the back instead of clearing the God damn ball saw us get ourselves into trouble in the 23rd, however O’Neill’s strike following a Murray assist luckily caught the tips of Izzo’s fingers enough to deflect onto the crossbar.
Keeping quiet in the opening half hour, Isaías appeared at the crucial moment in the 35th. Kitto initially crossed the ball into the box, finding the head of Blackwood and then the noggin of Aspro, in what was a weak clearance. Isaías emerged unmarked to strike the ball low on the volley to find the corner of the net to give Adelaide the lead. Although it was a bit of a “one moment, one goal” for Adelaide, we are too often on the receiving end of conceding these types of goals, so we will take it.
United emerged as the stronger starters in the second half, with Goodwin finding a pearler of an opportunity in the 54th to double the lead. With CCM’s defence nowhere to be seen, Craig was one-on-one with Kennedy, who’s arms comfortably found the resulting shot. This was the type of goal that you just know Craig needs to boost the confidence a little; here’s hoping he can return to snagging more bangers than Justin Bieber Circa 2015 soon.
In what was a fairly mild game in terms of cards, Karacan managed to receive 50% of them as he saw yellow x2 to be sent for an early shower in the 72nd following a foul on Jakobsen, forcing CCM into that all too familiar feeling this season of playing a man down.
Central Coast still managed a few chances late in the piece as Simon was fouled by Isaías on the edge of the box in the 82nd, however Hoole’s spot kick was denied by the wall.
The Mariners had two last ditch efforts in the final seconds of the game, as Hoole’s set piece found the noodle of Millar, but the resulting shot was just left of the post. Pain had the chance to leave a hero for the night as he sent a barrelling volley towards Izzo in the 95th, only to be denied by the end of Izzo’s digits to send it over the cross bar.
Although this was a win, I felt about as comfortable as a stubbed toe for this entire game until Ams had blown that final whistle. Let’s hope it has given the boys some much needed confidence moving forward for the tail end of the competition as Adelaide next face the Nix at home- not our most comfortable location all season, whilst CCM face league-leaders, Glory.
By Hayley Routley