VAR Insists A Hand In The Box Is Just Foreplay

In a rivalry as classic as pineapple on pizza and tomato sauce belonging in the cupboard, the round 7 Saturday night fixture saw 2nd place Victory take on 3rd, with Adelaide moving up a position in the hour before the game thanks to Wellington’s obliteration of Sydney (I just wanted to find a way to get that in there, yes I know Adelaide lost too).

Adelaide had more outs than me when I’m slightly inconvenienced at work. In the era of social media, the team’s sneak peak starting 11 is about as behind as a ten-team comp. With Ilsø’s Instagram clearly depicting his living room on game day, it was obvious that the Viking had fallen victim to Adelaide’s string of 40-degree days this week; a little outside of the comfort zone of average Danish summer temps of 17. Either that or he saw Adelaide’s stats against Melbourne Victory away and used the ol’ abdominal pain/gastro excuse; you know the one where you won’t get questioned at work because no one wants to hear about it?

Kitto was also a huge out for Adelaide, having taken a knock to the knee on Thursday, presumably with a crow bar whilst walking back to his car after training in Elizabeth. Luckily we saw the return of Jakobsen back to his starting position for the suspended Taylor Regan; being already in the midst of a 2.5-year striker crisis, we didn’t need to add defence to that as well. The forced reshuffle saw both AP and Halloran take on a dual striker role, with Adelaide’s bench having about as many years of life combined as Ante Covic sitting on Wellington’s bench alone.

In a nice example of fan engagement, injured Boland joined fans in the away bay- see, who said we don’t have enough travel funds in the A-League for an extended bench? Meanwhile, injured Baba….ahhh we don’t even care anymore.

Pre-game also saw the return of Victory’s favourite son Berisha in the stands, perhaps trying to suss out how the ex is doing without him? Imaginably Berisha didn’t think Victory would have moved on quite so well after his departure. But maybe Bes, try that ex that never quite got over you, I’m sure Brisbane would have you back. Meanwhile Victory’s new shining light, Honda called for more from his team after their annihilation of the Wanderers last round, and has reportedly been more extra at training than Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcements.

Victory welcomed the return of Niedermeier to bolster their defence following a recent concussion, returning for about 4 minutes. Niedermeier came together with AP, with both players stumbling out of the challenge a little worse for wear. Replays showed Neidermeier’s ankle bending at an angle more unnatural than not being charged extra for guacamole.

Muscat, being the ever so kind, understanding, and gentle soul that we know he is, ordered Niedermeier back on the field despite Georg clearly indicating his day was done. It’s all good Niedermeier (narrator: it was not good), with Georg struggling on for another 3 minutes until Troisi, as last man standing following Ansell’s injury last week, could take his position.

The first 45 saw Adelaide’s right back being their best chance at scoring. Marrone had a cracking shot at goal following an Isaías corner cross in the 15th with Marrone’s header hitting the inside of the crossbar at pace, only to bounce in front of Thomas for the save. Marrone’s next attempt on goal came only 4 minutes later, but that too was denied with Toivonen then catching Adelaide on the break to attempt a bottom right corner shot that was well covered by Izzo.

Cue controversy immediately after with Galloway appearing to handball in the box, with no decision taken by on-field ref Evans. VAR took at second look, but also deemed the contact unintentional and therefore nil penalty awarded. For me, this was a 50:50 call, where I wouldn’t have been upset if it were awarded either way.

Yes there is contact, however this is a grey area where again we don’t always need to consider the letter of the law, but rather the spirit of football. Galloway did not move his arm, but rather this first touch was so shocking that it bounced up from his knee/thigh first, there was no intent, he wasn’t blocking a goal scoring opportunity, and there was next to no victory players around him. However, those who thought they’d never seen a more obvious penalty in their life and were awaiting Bozza’s half-time rant, were sorely disappointed when he sided with the VAR call.

The teams re-entered the field for the second half with scores still locked at 0-0 apiece. AP attempted to capitalise early at the 52nd with a run from Isaías following a fast break, only for his attempt to dribble to the right of the post. AP again had another chance 9 minutes later to bolster his goal tally, with the ball again pulling to the right.

By this point, Adelaide had 3 times as many shots on goal as Victory, but had been wasteful in their finishing, which opened the door for a patient Victory. In the 62nd we saw an Antonis cross to the head of Toivonen initially saved by Izzo, however the ball was not cleared from danger and Barbarouses was there to clean up at close range to put the Vuck in the lead.

Adelaide continued to get close, but not close enough through attempts from Goodwin and Halloran in the proceeding ten minutes. At the 81st Victory doubled their lead through the Swede, who capitalised on a stunning back heel from Antonis to find the bottom left corner.

The clash wouldn’t be an Adelaide/Victory game without a bit of biff with Lia and Barbarouses coming together for a tiny melee in the 84th, with both parties seeing yellow and Lia being subbed off straight after.

Positives for Adelaide following the 2-0 defeat: we didn’t totally embarrass ourselves, with the difference between the two sides was capitalising in the final third, Armiento made his A-league debut, and we didn’t end the night with only 9 men on the field. We are also holding on to hope that there is even a shred of truth in Baba morphing into Bobô to potentially come to the city of churches.

And I barely mentioned Honda because Speedy and Harps did enough of that last night.

By Hayley Leedham

VAR Insists A Hand In The Box Is Just Foreplay

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