Adelaide United has surged into the top six after overcoming a spirited effort from a 10-man Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Saturday night.
Despite defender Tarek Elrich conceding an own goal after just six minutes, the Reds rebounded quickly through Sergio Cirio and star playmaker Marcelo Carrusca to claim the lead just after half-time.
Craig Goodwin netted in the 94th minute to seal a 3-1 win for the visitors.
The impressive away victory means Guillermo Amor’s side remains unbeaten from their last six matches and are now firmly in the finals race despite languishing on the bottom of the Hyundai A-League table only five weeks ago.
Glory was reduced to just 10 men before half-time when defender Alex Grant was sent off for denying Goodwin a certain goal-scoring opportunity.
1-0 Tarek Elrich (6’ og) – Glory skipper Richard Garcia whipped in a quick cross from the left, opening the door for Chris Harold to head the ball home at the near-post. Under pressure from a rising Harold, Elrich botched his attempted clearance and knocked the ball into his own net.
1-1 Sergio Cirio (27’) – A brilliant passage of one-touch football saw Marcelo Carrusca play the ball to Bruce Djite before running deep into the box and receiving it back, then firing in a low cross to Sergio Cirio to complete the easiest of finishes from close range.
1-2 Marcelo Carrusca (47’) – The Argentine playmaker is back to his absolute best and showed off his supreme skills with a class finish just two minutes after the break. Carrusca danced around both Garcia and Mitch Oxborrow before threading the ball between Aryn Williams and Ante Covic with his non-preferred right foot.
1-3 Craig Goodwin (90’+4) – The winger was rewarded for a fine game with a goal with the final touch of the match following a dashing run down the left wing, sidestepping Glory’s Gyorgy Sandor before slotting the ball into the bottom left corner.
It’s a toss of the coin between which of the two first-half sitters missed by Glory attackers Chris Harold and Diego Castro proved more costly. Harold should have completed an easy tap-in at the far post after being set up by Castro in the 14th minute, but the speedy winger leaned too far back on the ball and sent his shot way over the crossbar despite being almost on the goalline. Castro will rue hitting the post from close range in the 37th minute after some clever lead-up work from Gracia and the returning Andy Keogh.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Adelaide continues to be Perth’s bogey team, having now won four and drawn one of the last six clashes between the two teams. However, nib Stadium has rarely been a happy hunting ground for the Reds, with Glory claiming victory in four and drawing three of the previous eight encounters in the west.
Glory coach Kenny Lowe is unlikely to have scolded defender Alex Grant for his red card late in the first half. The youngster had no choice but to make a challenge on Craig Goodwin as the Reds winger charged towards goal, but unfortunately for Grant the contact was deemed to deny a certain goal-scoring opportunity and he was given his marching orders by referee Stebre Delovski. Lowe is more likely to have pointed the finger at midfielder Gyorgy Sandor for his unsighted backheel flick on the sideline in Perth’s attacking half. The ball went to the advantage of two Adelaide players, who acted quickly to put Goodwin on a path to score.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Perth has kept just two clean sheets from 14 rounds this season and with Grant set to miss at least one game through suspension and experienced pair Michael Thwaite and Dino Djulbic still sidelined with injuries, Lowe will once again have to reconfigure his leaky defence for next Saturday’s clash with Melbourne City. The coach had blooded local product Jacob Collard at right back on Saturday, but the youngster had to be moved to the centre of defence alongside Williams after Grant’s send-off, with midfielder Mitch Oxborrow shifting to left back. Unfortunately for Lowe, there are few other available defensive options following Antony Golec’s rumoured departure.
Adelaide has emerged as the frontrunner for one of the minor placings in the top six with an unbeaten six-match streak. Eli Babalj played his first minutes since October and showed signs he will combine well with Carrusca, Goodwin and Jimmy Jeggo to add some much-need scoring power to United’s artillery.
Despite the loss, there are still positive signs for Glory. The return of Keogh and his potential partnerships Castro and the emerging Jamal Reiners will warm the hearts of Glory fans, albeit the club’s ninth position on the table.
Perth Glory: 1.Ante COVIC (GK), 2.Alex GRANT, 7.Gyorgy SANDOR, 9.Andy KEOGH, 11.Richard GARCIA (C) (15.Hagi GLIGOR 66’), 14.Chris HAROLD (24.Jamal REINERS 70’), 17.Diego CASTRO, 18.Mitch OXBORROW, 19.Josh RISDON, 25.Jacob COLLARD (28.Joe KNOWLES 88’), 29.Aryn WILLIAMS
Central Coast: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (C) (GK), 2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 8.ISAIAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA (7.Pablo SANCHEZ 80’), 11.Bruce DJITE (19.Eli BABALJ 72’), 16.Craig GOODWIN, 18.Jimmy JEGGO (14.George MELLS 90’), 21.Tarek ELRICH, 23.Jordan ELSEY
Scorers: Tarek Elrich (6’ og), Sergio Cirio (27’), Marcelo Carrusca (47’), Craig Goodwin (90’+4)
Red cards: Alex Grant (45’)
Yellow cards: Jordan Elsey (35’), Marcelo Carrusca (73’), George Mells (90’+3)
Conditions: 24C, cloudy
Attendance: 9,009 at nib Stadium