Jesse Makarounas netted his first Hyundai A-League goal on debut for Adelaide United as the Reds were forced to settle for a point away to Newcastle Jets in Round 1 of the Hyundai A-League 2016/17 season.
Newcastle’s Wayne Brown had initially opened the scoring for the hosts with a thumping volley, but United restored parity twelve minutes later courtesy of Makarounas profiting from a defensive mix-up.
Adelaide started the match with five Club debutants, in what was a new look side under Head Coach Guillermo Amor.
The clash began at a frenetic tempo with both sides enjoying periods of possession. Sergio Cirio looked lively throughout the encounter, particularly during the first-half, causing several problems for the Jets defence.
The Spaniard and Ben Garuccio ventured forward when they pleased with the pair on either flank delivering a number of inviting balls into the area. However, despite dominating the early exchanges it was the hosts who struck first.
In the 17th minute, Brown lifted the ball over two Reds defenders just outside the 18-yard-box, before volleying his effort in off the post and past the outstretched Eugene Galekovic. United attempted to hit back straight away, though Cirio’s shot was comfortably dealt with by Newcastle gloveman Jack Duncan.
Moments later, the Jets nearly doubled their lead had it not been for a superb save by Club Captain Galekovic, who denied Hoole from point-blank range.
The reigning Champions gradually got back into the match, retaining possession of the ball in advanced areas and growing in confidence. James Holland and Isaias began to control the middle of the park, while Tarek Elrich and Garuccio continued to maraud forward.
And the Reds were rewarded for their endeavour, albeit in fortuitous fashion. A calamitous defensive blunder involving Daniel Mullen and Duncan, saw the ball perfectly fall to Makarounas – who finished with aplomb into a vacant net.
Little could separate the two teams after Adelaide’s equaliser as both sides went into the break all square.
After the interval, Adelaide bossed proceedings and had two promising chances to get ahead. Firstly through Cirio, who smacked his effort into the side netting, following a mazy run from Makarounas, and secondly when a delightful cross from Elrich found Henrique who saw his volley land into the gloves of Duncan.
In the 66th minute, Garuccio came close to breaking the deadlock with a curling free-kick, forcing Duncan into a smart save. But the Reds were almost made to rue their missed opportunities when Hoole was played in through on goal and appeared certain to score, only to be thwarted by a last-ditch tackle from Holland.
With time running out, Amor pushed for the winner, bringing on Ryan Kitto and debutant Jordan O’Doherty, however no more goals were added as the scoreline finished 1-1.
Following the game, the Reds’ boss, Amor, insisted he wanted to win the match, but admitted he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“I prefer to win but sometimes it’s not possible,” Amor said. “Today was a hard game; it was not easy here (at McDonald Jones Stadium).
“It’s the first game… but when you play away it’s different (than) when you play at home, but the result is not bad and in this moment you can win or lose.
“I think the performance of the players was good in general. We work a lot, we run a lot with the ball and without the ball.
“Obviously it’s possible to play better… we must improve things but it’s the first game.”
Amor also reserved praise for midfielder James Holland, after committing a crucial tackle to prevent Hoole from scoring Newcastle’s second.
“James (Holland) is a player that is good for our team, he’s a team player with experience and has played a lot of games in other countries,” Amor continued.
“And now he’s arrived here and he wants to do the things well, he’s good for us, physically he’s fantastic.”
Sunday, 9 October 2016
Hyundai A-League Round 1
Newcastle Jets 1 (Brown 17’)
Adelaide United 1 (Makarounas 29’)
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium