Adelaide United’s winless league run has been emphatically stunted after trouncing the Wellington Phoenix 4-0 at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night, starting off 2022 in style.
Despite coming into the game without a league win, Adelaide started in an enterprising fashion in front of their home faithful, receiving just reward for their early dominance after Craig Goodwin’s goalbound effort hit an unsuspecting George Blackwood before hitting the back of the net, rather fortuitously elevating the hosts into the ascendancy.
After being unable to cement their dominance despite a plethora of early chances, Adelaide United had problems at the others, an injury to James Delianov presenting a golden opportunity for the Reds’ NPL ‘keeper Steven Hall to deputise in between the posts for the first time at senior level.
Early in the second half, referee Daniel Elder awarded a penalty via consultation with VAR after Phoenix captain Tim Payne was adjudged to have fouled George Blackwood in the area before later pointing to the spot, before Craig Goodwin cooly converted the spot-kick by sending Paulsen the wrong way, doubling the home side’s lead in the process.
James McGarry’s clumsy challenge inside the area on debutant Bernardo added further insult to injury, as Craig Goodwin brought up his brace by converting once more from 12 yards, putting the result far beyond doubt.
After falling 4-0 to the Newcastle Jets only weeks ago, lightning would strike twice for the New Zealand outfit, rounded out by an impeccable volley from Javi Lopez, who scored his first league goal since 2012 after meeting an inch-perfect cross from Ryan Kitto as the Reds secured their first win of the new campaign.
COVID RAVAGES THE A-LEAGUES
Five games across the A-League Men this weekend have fallen fowl to the COVID-19 pandemic that is rearing its ugly head across the league. Even despite their game being the only game to proceed this weekend, Adelaide United were not exempt from virus worries themselves.
Both Guinean-born starlet Mohamed Toure and deputy goalkeeper Joe Gauci were rendered unavailable for tonight’s clash after testing positive, as the relentless and ubiquitous nature of the illness proved itself to be so once more.
While football somehow still found a way to take place this round with a couple of games in the A-League Women and a solitary game in the men’s competition, the immediate and short-term future of football Down Under remains under threat, as the threat of a temporary suspension to the leagues loom large.
GOALKEEPING CRISIS FOR THE REDS
Even before a ball was kicked, the club from the City of Churches had already seen their goalkeeping charges decimated when usual reserve Joe Gauci tested positive for COVID-19.
Salt was rubbed into the wounds when James Delianov suffered a dislocated shoulder after an inadvertent boot from New Zealand Olympian Ben Waine, giving young fourth-choice 16-year-old goalkeeper Steven Hall a chance to impress on his maiden first-team bout.
A less than ideal night for the Adelaide goalkeeping department concluded despite Hall generally impressing in the hour or so that he deputised in goal, as United may well now look to scour the footballing landscape to find an injury replacement in an attempt to soften the annihilation to their shot-stopping stocks.
WOEFUL WELLINGTON PUNISHED
Despite Wellington’s bad run of league form themselves, United thoroughly obliterated their Phoenix contemporaries to gain their first A-League Men success since a 2-1 win over the Brisbane Roar in last year’s Elimination Final just under eight months ago.
The Nix’s abject defensive showing was prevalent from the outset, and their inability to rectify their subpar showing behind the ball at any point will worry Ufuk Talay, as his Wellington charges remain without a clean sheet in the league this season, a run they must end if they harbour any positive aspirations in the A-League Men this campaign.
A-League Men, Round 7: Coopers Stadium
Adelaide United 4 (George Blackwood 7m, Craig Goodwin 54m (p), 69m (p), Javi Lopez 80)
Wellington Phoenix 0
Image Source: Adelaide United