Youngster Mark Ochieng proved an inspired substitution as his emphatic finish handed Adelaide United a dramatic 2-1 win over Melbourne City in Round 15 of the Hyundai A-League 2016/17 season at Coopers Stadium.
Dylan McGowan’s first-half header extinguished Bruno Fornaroli’s early opener, before Ochieng’s late winner secured a marvellous comeback victory for the Reds.
United Head Coach, Guillermo Amor, made three changes for the clash with Michael Marrone replacing the suspended Tarek Elrich in a direct swap. Meanwhile, Jordan O’Doherty and Ryan Kitto came in for the injured Nikola Mileusnic and Sergi Guardiola, forcing a reshuffle in attack.
The Reds, however, would fall behind inside four minutes, when Bruce Kamau’s accurate cross enabled Fornaroli to nonchalantly guide his strike past a helpless Eugene Galekovic.
Though Adelaide were not deterred, and pushed on in search of a quick equaliser, dominating possession high up the field.
And in the 10th minute, Adelaide restored parity through McGowan’s expertly dispatched header. The centre-half was left unmarked to connect with Isaias’ pin-point delivery from an inviting set piece.
City looked to grab the ascendency, following Adelaide’s leveller, but were thwarted in particular by defensive stalwart Taylor Regan. The 28-year-old was again immense at the back, making vital interceptions and perfectly executed tackles against a potent attack.
United winger, Kitto, appeared close to netting a goal for the hosts after dispossessing Michael Jakobsen, but he was unable to direct his shot on target.
The second stanza, saw Melbourne enjoy long spells of the ball, and managed to create several half chances through Fornaroli and Nicolas Colazo respectively.
On the hour mark, Amor turned to his bench, bringing on Marcelo Carrusca and Sergi Guardiola in a double change, in a bid to swing the momentum in Adelaide’s favour.
Ivan Franjic had a golden opportunity to give City the advantage, but was wasteful in front of goal, while at the other end Michael Marrone – in his first start for the Club this season – tried his luck from distance.
With time running out, it was the Reds who struck the killer blow in the 87th minute, as two of Amor’s substitutes combined brilliantly.
James Holland released Guardiola, who volleyed a first-time pass into the path of Ochieng, before the right-back by trade, clinically curled the ball into the top corner of Dean Bouzanis’s net – rounding off a textbook counter-attacking move.
The Spanish tactician’s decision to bring on Guardiola and Ochieng proved a tactical masterstroke, as the latter’s phenomenal strike sent Coopers Stadium into scenes of jubilation.
Adelaide played out the last five minutes with shrewdness and were rarely troubled as they held on for their second victory of the campaign, and in the process snap a five-game winless streak.
Following the match, Boss Amor, was proud of the team’s resolve and character to fight back and win the game.
“I think it’s important to enjoy the result and the performance of the players,” Amor said.
“Today was good, against (Melbourne) City they played well, in the second-half and we had moments where we suffered and they played well.
“But in the last few actions we scored and normally it (the result) has been different (in past matches).”
The Spaniard also praised fans for their steadfast support and strong attendance at Coopers Stadium, despite the Club’s underwhelming start to the season.
“The fans have been fantastic, we’re very happy with them for their support, given the situation of the team is difficult and we need them,” Amor continued.
“I feel bad because we want better results for the people of Adelaide, but we try, we work and hope that things continue to get better moving forward.”
Thursday, 12 January 2017
Hyundai A-League Round 15
Adelaide United 2 (McGowan 10’ Ochieng 87’)
Melbourne City 1 (Fornaroli 4’)
Venue: Coopers Stadium