Adelaide left wondering as Victory win 3-0.
Kosta Barbarouses, Mitch Nichols and Archie Thompson's goals sealed a famous win over an original rival for the 10-man Victory, let's run the comb over it.
It takes one split second
Adelaide, at different times over the encounter, looked to press up due to having the extra man. With the efforts of the midfielders and wingers, Victory made the Reds pay for it. Victory made them hurt from the smallest of turnovers and mistakes, the goal from Mitch Nichols a prime example. The mistakes were amplified because the speed of the Victory transitions made it so. Victory played two quick balls which both resulted in goals, it only takes that one second.
Stand up when counted
Adelaide can’t help but thinking ‘what if’, but Victory didn’t die wondering. Discipline and focus fell out the window at the farcical end of a first half, but Victory regrouped. Nathan Coe’s save of an (albeit poor) Sergio Cirio penalty set the narrative of the game, while one fell into a panic, the other held its nerve and raced up the other end for a goal. Coe, Nichols, Archie Thompson and Kosta Barbarouses can all take credit for the decisive goal, proving themselves players that stood up when their team needed and that is what separates Victory from the mid-table clubs.
Was always going to have a role to play, but Nichols became all the more important when James Troisi was forced off after Adrian Leijer’s foolish foul saw him booked for the second time in the first half. Nichols still had to play that more defensively while also linking up with Thompson and Barbarouses. He was Mr. Everywhere as he put in an enormous effort and ran himself into the ground, fans are clearly taking to him after efforts like this, giving him a standing ovation when he was subbed off.
Reshapes and scuffles
When red cards happen to defenders usually an attacker is replaced by a defender off the bench, term it collateral damage if you will. This happened on Friday as James Troisi paid for Leijer’s sending off with an early night of his own, making way for Nick Ansell. This left Victory in a modified 4-2-1-2 and defending in a 4-3-2 when they didn’t have the ball.
Troisi was out of order as he openly remonstrated with his coach on the sideline, Muscat was well within his rights to tell Troisi where he would be watching the rest of the match from. Criticism of Muscat’s sideline manner from some was bizzare, had Ange Postecoglou done what Muscat did, he would have been lauded.
Broxham at right-back
Leigh Broxham’s renaissance at Victory has seen him become a utility player and ever so vital. He has played at centre-back, full-back and midfield whenever the situation has called over the past 19 months. Broxham trained at full-back during the final training session before the match and replaced Jason Geria in the XI, he proved reliable as ever and was part of a unit that kept a clean sheet.
The visitors fell behind after being cut up and leaving Barbarouses to score unmarked, indicative of where they have been this season with a very slow start. The question needs to be asked if this was because there wasn’t an ideal balance in midfield. Passes between the central defenders Nigel Boogard and Osama Malik were common, had Adelaide going slow and left Victory comfortable when defending.
It changed when an early injury to Cassio saw Michael Zullo leave his advanced position on the wing and back to defence, as Steven Lustica came into midfield and Cirio back on to a wing.
Warmed up over the first half
The introduction of Lustica appeared to make Adelaide work better, especially when going forward as they began to find space and play in between the Victory’s lines. They finished the opening 45 minutes the better of the two sides, but as so often has been the case so far this season, failed to make it count where it hurt the most. Playing through your opponent rather than in front of them leaves you in a better position to score goals, and it was positive to see from Josep Gombau’s men.
Poor second half
But it was all ruined in the second half with a poor display. The extra man put the onus on Adelaide to dictate, attack and win, while dominating the possession count (66% of the ball) they froze. Victory understood Adelaide would have the majority of the ball, but they weren’t fussed by it and stood resolute. Adelaide, on the other hand, went back into their shell and let their hosts romp away to a 3-0 win.
Jeronimo Neumann made the most of slight contact from Pablo Contereras, who continued the night’s trend of foolish Victory centre-backs. Neumann is a slippery striker, very hard to get ahold of and proved it again. The rest is now history as this moment changed the game, but not the way Gombau would have hoped.
Where are they at?
The loss is United’s third in a row, and the voices of dissatisfaction have become louder. But patience is needed as the club has chosen a path and has to stay on it. Gombau has the mandate and task of revolutionizing this club’s on-field style, not just evolving it. He has chosen to bring immediate change, but has very limited scope to achieve that change. Gombau has arrived to find many in the squad have an existing contract and can’t make changes carte blanche, so he has had to make do with this squad that doesn’t wholly suit what he wants to do.