R1 Wrap: Adelaide United v Adelaide Blue Eagles

Adelaide United caused a major upset at Elite Systems Football Centre in their opening game of the PlayStation 4 National Premier League South Australia 2016 season, recording a 2-0 maiden win against last season’s Grand Finalist Adelaide Blue Eagles.

In warm conditions, Blue Eagles got off to a quick start creating the first goal scoring opportunity when Alemayo Kebede side heeled a pass to Jean-Glaude Boyokino whose shot on goal was blocked by a desperate Adelaide United defender in the opening minute of the game.

Blue Eagles continued to create chances early, but were thwarted by some good goal keeping by John Hall and resolute defending by the Adelaide United defence.

Boyokino, Kebede and Mathew Dawber were combining well, continually putting the United defenders under pressure as they ran at the defence creating havoc in the penalty box.

But the attacking runs began to dry up half way through the first half for Blue Eagles, as Jordan O’Doherty and Dylan Smith began to work themselves into the game. They took control of the midfield and with this Adelaide United took control of the game.

United had their first real chance in the 18’ when Smith sent Blake Carpenter for a run on the right side of the park, his cross found Riley McGree whose shot was deflected for a corner.

Benjamin Warland was the General in the defence directing all the attacking drives, and was being well supported buy, Clifford Maina, Roun Tongyk, Jordan Pudler and Tommy Stokes.

O’Doherty was creating mayhem in the midfield, and in the 34’ he was rewarded for his efforts when he received a pass from Maina. He waltzed into the penalty box and shot a low ball passed the out stretched arm of Blue Eagles’ goalkeeper Pedram Sourjani.

The combination of Pudler, Smith, McGree and O’Doherty was causing Blue Eagles’ coach Gianluca Lagati all sorts of headaches as his midfield began to fall apart. And the headache nearly became a migraine just before the halftime break, when an O’Doherty free kick in the 41’ just shaved the woodwork.

The United players went into the break full of confidence, but one could be forgiven for thinking whether the young Adelaide United outfit could hold on for another 45’ against a Blue Eagles team renowned for their fighting spirit.

Things nearly went from bad to worse for Blue Eagles in the opening minutes of the second half, when in the 47’ United winger Carpenter was bought down in the penalty box, and referee David Alberton had no hesitation in pointing to the spot . Pudler stepped up to take the kick but his shot was denied by a good Sourjani save diving low to his right.

Blue Eagles mounted a challenge with goal scoring opportunities in the early stages of the second half, with Alemayo heavily involved in the goal scoring attempts, but his efforts were left with no rewards as his shots missed the target. Boyokino worked hard but had little support.

United continued to hold their shape all over the park and absorb the pressure that the Blue Eagles were throwing at them as the second half evolved.

Mark Jones the United coach wasn’t afraid to go to his bench to introduce fresh legs to wrestle back some momentum in the 60 minute mark when he bought on Jordan Elliott and Alec Maiolo for the hard running duo Carpenter and McGree, who both had very good games.

Blue Eagles nearly got on level terms in the 64’ when an errant header by Maiolo from a Kebede cross after a corner kick, sailed towards his own goal, but John Hall was there to deflect the ball away.

United continued their hard running through the midfield creating their own chances, as the final stages of the game became an arm wrestle.

The reality of a United victory came in the 83’ when Elloitt ran into the box and a tired tackle by Kochi bought the youngster down giving United another penalty shot on goal. This time it was left to O’Doherty to slot home his second goal and game cruncher.

A beaming O’Doherty was full of praise for his teammates after the game, believing this is something special in the making.

“Every player played their role today, even the boys that came off the bench. We knew coming into the game that we had to run hard and spread them and we did that well,” O’Doherty said.

“It was an arm wrestle early but we all put in a total team performance to get this win. This will give our group a lot of confidence moving forward.”

A dejected Andrej Rastovac was critical of his team’s performance and their mind set. He believed his team did not pay enough respect to their opponents.

“They ran harder, worked harder on the ball, and took their chances,” Rastovac said.

“We thought our ball skills alone would get us over the line, but they wanted the win more. They played good football and we didn’t show them enough respect today.

“We had our chances to get back into the game, but didn’t take them when they came and in the end we paid a heavy price.”

Written By - Joe Pangallo 5RTI Sports 531am


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