Bruce Djite’s first goal of the season was not enough for Adelaide United FC to see of a fast finishing Wellington Phoenix, the match at Eden Park in Auckland ending 1-1.
Bruce Djite-s first goal of the season was not enough for Adelaide United FC to see of a fast finishing Wellington Phoenix, the match at Eden Park in Auckland ending in a 1-1 draw.
When Djite gave the Reds the lead on the stroke of half time, the signs were promising that they could register their second win on New Zealand soil and back to back victories for the first time this season.
However, looking to reward a 20,078 strong crowd that had packed in for the first Hyundai A-League match at the Eden Park, the Phoenix grabbed an 83rd minute equaliser when Reds defender Nigel Boogaard, who had been resolute to that point, unluckily glanced a header from a Paul Ifill cross into his own net.
The final whistle may not have seen the Reds take home all three points but Reds Coach Rini Coolen will know the positivity, effort and commitment from his side saw them take another step in the right direction.
Djite was a pillar of strength playing as a sole target man in the absence of the injured Sergio van Dijk, while the Reds- midfield held their own against a Phoenix side keen to register their first win since mid October.
United-s cause was not helped by Cassio-s early exit after 38 minutes after the Brazilian was forced from the field due to the bruised foot that he suffered against Gold Coast United which threatened to keep him from making the trip to Auckland.
On a perfect day for football United had the first chance of the game when Cameron Watson picked out an unmarked Djite in the box but the striker could not force his header on target after just seven minutes.
There was little for either goalkeeper to do in a first half that saw the Reds with more than their fair share of possession and managing to suffocate the Phoenix from breaking into any sort of rhythm.
Osama Malik came on for Cassio with Coolen choosing to reshuffle Francisco Usucar to left back and put Malik in holding midfield next to Spase Dilevski, a role the youngster more than warmed to.
The Reds were struggling to force Phoenix keeper Tony Warner into any serious action, Iain Ramsay with a great opportunity to catch Wellington off guard in the 40th minute but he blasted his effort well over the bar.
Chris Greenacre then followed Ramsay-s example as he flew a close range attempt over the top before the Reds struck a lethal blow just before half time.
Dario Vidosic curled a sublime flick into the path of Djite, who positioned himself superbly to get inside of his marker, Phoenix captain Andrew Durante to get a vital first touch in front of an encroaching Warner, the two colliding as the ball rolled into the back of the net.
Leading at the break, the Reds could sense three points there for the taking and they remained compact after the break as Wellington chased an equaliser.
Holding sway, a great chance opened up for United to sting on the counter attack when Vidosic had Djite in support, but the former-s intended pass was too heavily weighted for Djite to try and put away his second.
Wellington Coach Ricki Herbert went to his bench for inspiration, bringing on Paul Ifill with half an hour to go, and just as the Reds seemed to maintain their composure, the Phoenix substitute instigated the equaliser as his dangerous cross coupled by the deliberate run of Ben Sigmund put Boogaard under pressure and the Reds defender could only watch as his attempted clearing header flew past Galekovic.
Suddenly it was the home side sniffing at all three points, however the Reds held on, captain Jon McKain typifying United-s resolve as he suffered a gash above his right eye in a nasty head clash with Durante in the dying stages to ensure United took home a point.
Notably, Ricardo Da Silva was given his first taste of the Hyundai A-League when he was introduced for Vidosic in the 88th minute, the result meaning the Reds are undefeated now in their past three games.
Adelaide United-s squad flies home tomorrow ahead of two consecutive Friday night home matches beginning with a visit from the Newcastle Jets on November 25. Tickets are available through Ticketek.
Match Details Wellington Phoenix 1 (Boogaard 83- (og)) Adelaide United FC 1 (Djite 44-) Referee: Peter Green Crowd: 20,078 @ Eden Park
Wellington Phoenix: 20.Tony Warner (gk), 2.Manny Muscat, 3.Tony Lochhead, 6.Tim Brown, 7.Leo Bertos, 9.Chris Greenacre, 12.Nicky Ward (11.Daniel 73-), 17.Vince Lia (4.Brent Griffiths 88-), 18.Ben Sigmund, 22.Andrew Durante (c), 24.Alex Smith (8.Paul Ifill 59-)
Substitutes not used: 1.Mark Paston (gk) Yellow Cards: Greenacre 23-, Brown 38-, Lia 76- Red Cards: Nil
Adelaide United line-up: 1.Eugene Galekovic (gk), 3.Nigel Boogaard, 4.Jon McKain (c), 6.Cassio (2.Osama Malik 38-), 7.Zenon Caravella, 10.Dario Vidosic (13.Ricardo Dasilva 88-), 11.Bruce Djite, 14.Cameron Watson, 16.Spase Dilevski, 17.Iain Ramsay (18.Fabian Barbiero 81-), 21.Francisco Usucar
Substitutes not used: 39.Nick Munro (gk) Yellow Cards: Dilevski 32-, Usucar 67-, Caravella 78-, Da Silva 90+2- Red Cards: Nil