Well I’m glad that 2021 won’t give me the opportunity to wonder what I was doing exactly a year prior on the night of February 29th. It definitely did not involve watching Melbourne Victory score an injury-time winner for a 2-1 win against Adelaide United in Round 21 of “it’s soccer, not A-League” (Ticketmaster, 2020)*
*To their somewhat minimal credit, perhaps they were making a point that A-League should not be playing at AFL grounds…yeah, I’m clutching at straws.
Adelaide came into the Original Rivalry clash with yet another huge out with Halloran picking up a hamstring injury in training. For me, this provides yet another reason why we should move our training ground- why are we trying to match the Workcover rates of the surrounding suburbs? Mauk and Strain were both still no-goes, but Troisi was back and starting against his former side to bolster the midfield. Victory had Broxham back in the starting line-up, and with Rojas and Marrone both taking to the field, it was clear that the Original headband+long locks rivalry was on.
Adelaide capitalised early (and let’s be honest, it’s generally something we can never maintain). In the 7th minute, Opseth found the back of the net for his 2nd A-League goal from a McGree assist, following a disastrous turnover from Gallifuoco that was so poor, he was surely sent by the Central Coast Mariners to improve their chances of getting off the bottom.
Victory appeared rattled for the proceeding 10 minutes post goal, with scatty plays and non-stop whinging from Toivonen, leading to a yellow from Beath in the 14th for dissent. However, by the 20th, Adelaide’s defence appeared to pledge that for Lent, they would give up. Izzo managed a beautiful close range save in the 22nd to deny Nabbout’s leaping shot. His services were required again in the 36th to deny Rojas with a stretching stop, and some impeccable keeping was on display in the 40th. Nabbout was again 1:1 with Izzo, only for Izzo to force him wide enough to have to take another touch, giving Izzo the chance to get back on his line to make the save.
Adelaide nearly caught Victory on the counter in the 42nd, but Mileusnic’s cross fell just short of McGree who would’ve been 1:1 with Thomas. Adelaide nearly got caught on the counter themselves in the following minute as Toivonen had the chance to equal things up before half-time, but his point-blank header went wide.
Adelaide took the lead into the break undeniably thanks to Izzo. Verbeek replaced Marrone with Boland for the second half, pushing D’Arrigo to right back, whilst Traorè came off for Lauton following an earlier knock.
United pushed hard in the second, putting the wood in Blackwood, as George hit the crossbar at pace in the 56th. Adelaide were ultimately punished for not converting their chances only a minute later as Rojas found the equaliser off the side foot, walking through a defence standing as still as South Road Superworks traffic.
In between the shoot farken commotion, Nabbout went down following an aerial clash with Maria, to emerge with an absolute shiner to his left eye, but decided to play on.
Blackwood again got wood in the 69th. Unable to break the deadlock, li’l Toure came on in the 78th and everything nearly went to the usual script. Mohamed was able to break through in the 90th, only for his shot to be deflected by Thomas’ leg.
As it’s impossible for Adelaide to take a draw this season, an injury-time winner was on the cards. Nabbout was given the chance to switch to this right to find the top corner. Izzo did not stand a chance against the man with one eye scoring a blinder in what would normally easily take out worldie of the day (but damn Topor-Stanley’s earlier goal was *chef’s kiss*)
Victory’s win saw a continuation of the current Round 21 trend of bottom of the table teams beating those in the top 6. And for you Eurosnobs, this trend also continued in the Premier League overnight proving that our Leagues are most definitely equal (lolol Liverpool, amirite). For Adelaide though, this was a damaging loss in terms of table positioning- giving up the chance to go 2nd, and potentially dropping as low as 6th with Brisbane still to play. But hey, at least we could become the first team in A-League history to go through an entire season draw-less; what great content for our Visa player, Chen’s documentary shown back in China…
By Hayley Routley