Jordan O’Doherty’s sumptuous strike proved a mere consolation as Adelaide United suffered a 2-1 defeat against the Central Coast Mariners at GIO Stadium in Canberra.
Central Coast had taken a two-goal lead through Fabio Ferreira and Kwabena Appiah, before O’Doherty halved the deficit in stunning fashion deep in stoppage time.
Adelaide had a flurry of opportunities to get back into the clash during the second-half, but the brilliance of former Red Paul Izzo in goal ensured the South Australians would return home empty handed.
There were two changes to the team that drew with Wellington Phoenix last week. Mark Ochieng received his first Reds start replacing Henrique on the wing, while Marc Marino made way for O’Doherty, which saw Sergio Cirio lead the line.
In stifling conditions, it was Adelaide who showed more of the initiative in the opening exchanges, controlling possession and looking to get in behind the Mariners’ full-backs.
The hosts, however, slowly got back into the game and threatened on the break through Ferreira and Connor Pain.
A largely uneventful first half hour, turned sour for the Reds as gloveman and Captain Eugene Galekovic was forced off the field through injury.
Substitute goalkeeper John Hall superseded the skipper and was immediately thrusted into the action. Trent Buhagiar flashed a vicious ball across the face of goal, and with Hall hesitant to collect, Pain recycled the leather back into the area only for it to be half-cleared to Ferreira who slotted his half-volleyed shot into a vacant net.
Ben Garuccio almost restored parity when he unleashed a thunderous shot on the stroke of half-time, though Izzo pulled off an instinctive save.
The Mariners were indebted to Izzo after the interval as well, when he prevented Mark Ochieng’s header from creeping in.
A minute later the 22-year-old gloveman was called into action again, this time thwarting Cirio from close range. Riley McGree expertly clipped a defence-splitting pass through the Mariners’ back-four to find the Spaniard and his shot smashed into the face of Izzo.
But Central Coast would deliver the sucker punch when substitute Appiah capitalised on the loose ball, after Josh Bingham’s initial shot ricocheted off Hall and into the path of the winger who steered his effort into the goal.
Guillermo Amor’s men continued to attack, desperate to salvage something from the game. Marcelo Carrusca, who was impressive in his 20-minute cameo, elegantly dribbled past a couple of Mariners players before Marino found O’Doherty on the edge of the 18-yard-box.
The 19-year-old proceeded to cut inside onto his right foot, to sensationally dispatch a curling effort into the top-right corner, leaving the otherwise superb Izzo powerless.
However, it was a case of too little too late with Adelaide unable to take something from the clash.
Following the match, Amor, revealed he was impressed with the youngsters’ performances, but was disappointed the Reds lost the match after squandering several clear chances.
“For me the young players were fantastic, the team was fantastic today we played very well,” Amor said.
“I’m very happy with the team, not with the result, the result is bad, but the team today worked, fought and the attitude was good.
“I think the best player for Central Coast was [Paul] Izzo.
“Jordan O’Doherty, Mark Ochieng and Riley McGree – the young players played very well today.”
Sunday, 5 February 2017
Hyundai A-League Round 18
Central Coast Mariners 2 (Ferreira 37’ Appiah 79’)
Adelaide United 1 (O’Doherty 90+2’)
Venue: GIO Stadium