Another home game has ended in what has become a familiar old story as the Reds’ faint finals hopes were all but dashed in a 2-0 loss to Perth Glory.
Another home game has ended in what has become a familiar old story for Adelaide United FC as the Reds- faint finals hopes were all but dashed in a 2-0 loss to Perth Glory at Hindmarsh.
Needing to win all four of their remaining games to have any chance of sneaking into the top six, the Reds again found themselves on the wrong side of the score line and the luck meter.
Perth striker Billy Mehmet opened the scoring in controversial circumstances in the 6th minute and then Jacob Burns doubled the Glory-s advantage 18 minutes later.
Any chance of a Reds fight back were cut short when a Nigel Boogaard goal with 15 minutes to go was disallowed for an infringement on Perth goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, the decision, together with Fabian Barbiero-s straight red card late in the game, summing up the Reds- night and probably their season.
Nothing seemed to go the home side-s way in a game where they needed to have a touch of fortune on their side in order to rediscover some winning form at home and also build confidence ahead of their opening AFC Champions League match in Uzbekistan on Tuesday.
The contest was only six minutes old before Perth went ahead in what was one of the game-s main talking points.
Bruce Djite was met head on by Dean Heffernan, the referee keeping the whistle in his pocket despite the Reds striker being felled, and Perth took full advantage.
The Glory moved the ball across to a free Travis Dodd on the right, the former Reds skipper putting an intent pass across the goal face and Mehmet was at the far post to put the ball into the back of the net.
If the Reds thought themselves unlucky not to have won a free kick with the incident involving Djite, it was compounded when replays hinted Mehmet was in an offside position when he tapped in Dodd-s cross.
Behind at home again, the Reds tried valiantly to respond in a promising ten minute period but as has happened all too often this season, they could not capitalise and were subsequently stung at the other end through a sublime strike from Burns.
The Reds struggled to clear a corner and the ball fell invitingly for the Glory captain, who struck a shot off the outside of his right boot from just inside the area that curled away from a diving Galekovic.
United-s midfield were finding it difficult to get any fluency going against a physical Glory outfit, Dodd clipping Vidosic from behind in the 32nd minute which saw his name go in the referee-s book.
Adam Hughes missed a golden chance to extend Perth-s lead in the 57th minute after some magic down the right from Dodd, before Sergio van Dijk, in his 100th appearance, could not hit the target with a right footed effort.
A nasty head clash between Osama Malik and Hughes then saw an extended break in play and it invigorated the Reds momentarily, but the closest they came was when Boogaard nodded a tame header into the waiting arms of Vukovic.
With 15 minutes to go, the Reds thought they had set up a tense finish when Vukovic failed to handle a Vidosic corner and Boogaard pounced to smash the ball into the back of the net, but the referee blew for a foul on the Glory keeper.
The Reds- frustration then boiled over in the 87th minute when Barbiero was shown a straight red card for allegedly making high contact with Heffernan after the two had clashed initially minutes earlier, van Dijk receiving a yellow for dissent.
United could not muster a goal despite seven minutes of injury time, the final whistle telling another tale of a game where the Reds played with intent but without the rub of the green, a scenario that sounds much like their season.
Coach John Kosmina admitted the first goal hurt his team and that it was just not going to be the Reds- night with the way the game and the officiating decisions unfolded.
“You-ve got to deal with those things I guess, take it on the jaw, but it probably sums our season up - when things go against you they really go against you, and I thought we had a legitimate goal disallowed as well,” Kosmina said in his reflection of Mehmet-s opener and Boogaard-s strike.
“It-s a tough one. I didn-t know goalkeepers could earn free kicks for dropping the ball because that-s all that happened - no one touched him.”
“But it was a decision that went against us and it was just another one of the thousand cuts that we-ve been dying by lately.”
Kosmina did however concede that the Reds did not create enough quality opportunities throughout the match, and with the finals out of reach, the focus now turns to the AFC Champions League.
“Now we can concentrate on it (the AFC Champions League). Everyone else has been talking about it, it-s almost like they-ve death reddened us, so now we don-t have to worry about the A-League and we can concentrate on the ACL,” Kosmina said.
Match Details Adelaide United FC 0 Perth Glory 2 (Mehmet 6-, Burns 24-) Referee: Matt Gillett Crowd: 5,898 @ Hindmarsh Stadium
Adelaide United line-up: 1.Eugene Galekovic (gk) (c), 2.Osama Malik (14.Cameron Watson 75-), 3.Nigel Boogaard, 5.Daniel Mullen, 6.Cassio (17.Iain Ramsay 60-), 7.Zenon Caravella, 8.Evgeniy Levchenko, 9.Sergio van Dijk, 10.Dario Vidosic, 11.Bruce Djite (18.Fabian Barbiero 73-), 12.Antony Golec
Substitutes not used: 20.Mark Birighitti (gk) Yellow Cards: Galekovic 6-, van Dijk 87- Red Cards: Barbiero 87-
Perth Glory line-up: 1.Danny Vukovic (gk), 3.Bas van den Brink, 4.Billy Mehmet, 5.Steve Pantelidis, 7.Jacob Burns (c), 8.Adam Hughes, 13.Travis Dodd, 14.Steven McGarry (2.Josh Mitchell 81-), 19.Josh Risdon, 27.Andrezinho (17.Todd Howarth 70-), 35.Dean Heffernan
Substitutes not used: 15.Tommy Amphlett, 20.Neil Young (gk) Yellow Cards: Dodd 32-, Pantelidis 57- Red Cards: Nil