Adelaide United started like they thought it was just a formality, but had to fight every inch of the way to beat Central Coast Mariners 2-1 at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Andrew Hoole's beautifully curled shot in the 38th minute shocked the home side and dispelled any thoughts that the Mariners were a spent force or just here to make up the numbers.
Many United players were guilty of terrible distribution of the ball, notably Marco Kurz gave Paul Izzo a spray as he wasn’t happy with three or four sloppy clearances. The Mariners came to play football, showing good intent to press and move the ball quickly in the final third, using the wings well.
Adelaide displayed more intent in their play in the second-half, moving the ball quicker and were rewarded with an equaliser in the 68th minute from Isaias Sanchez, with an easy tap in six yards out.
Ben Kennedy had an inspiring game between the sticks, keeping the Mariners in the match but his defence let him down as Scott Galloway's driving run into the twelve yard box gave George Blackwood his first goal of the season, a header from six yards out.
Adelaide United deserved the 2-1 win as the Mariners faded late in the second half, allowing the Reds to dominate.
Paul Izzo. – 6
Sloppy attempt at clearing the ball three times early, then couldn’t do anything about Andrew Hoole's strike. Admittedly, pulled off a strong save late in the second-half. Overall, not his best game.
Scott Galloway – 8
Great clearance off the line with his head. Good pressing in the final third. Solid defending, having a good battle with Millar. Powerful driving run into the Mariners' penalty area late on to earn United the winning goal from Blackwood's header.
Fantastic performance, showed great energy to the end.
Michael Jakobsen – 7
Welcomed back after suspension, taking one in the head from Andrew Hoole's shot. Recovered to perform well in defence.
Jordan Elsey – 7.5
Had a clear chance to bury the ball with a header in the first 10 minutes. Solid defending getting in the right places at the right time, displayed good concentration throughout the 90 minutes.
Ryan Strain – 7
Wayward passing in dangerous areas, trying to relieve the pressure from the Mariners early on. Penetrating runs into the final third and carried himself deep into the penalty area, causing VAR to get involved due to a hand-ball the Reds claimed. Decent match overall.
Nathan Konstandopoulos – 6
Good intent to move the ball forward but guilty of giving the ball away a couple of times. Didn’t make any real impact.
Vince Lia – 6
Guilty of giving the ball away twice. Didn’t really shine. Subbed.