Reds progress as Dodd sinks Wellington

Adelaide United FC’s pursuit of the Hyundai A-League championship is heading into the finals series’ second week as a goal from captain Travis Dodd gave the Reds a 1-0 win and ended Wellington Phoenix’s season at a rain drenched Hindmarsh Stadium.

Adelaide United FC-s pursuit of the Hyundai A-League championship is heading into the finals series- second week as a goal from captain Travis Dodd gave the Reds a 1-0 win and ended Wellington Phoenix-s season at a rain drenched Hindmarsh Stadium.

Just as he did against Melbourne Victory a week earlier to secure United third spot on the table, Dodd again proved the difference as his clinical 70th minute finish was all that would separate the teams in the wet and wild conditions.

Both sides created enough opportunities despite the heavens opening for the majority of the contest, but it was the United skipper who made the most of the night-s best chance as he sent the Reds through to host either Gold Coast United or Melbourne Victory in another elimination final at Hindmarsh Stadium next weekend.

On top of gaining a passage to the next stage of the finals, the win was the Reds- third in a final and also saw them make amends for their loss to the Phoenix at Hindmarsh just under a fortnight ago.

Wellington have proved a more than difficult adversary throughout this season and they took it right up to the home side, United Head Coach Rini Coolen pleased to overcome the first tough hurdle, particularly on a night that was more suited to the middle of the year.

“It was not easy. The surface was ok but it was tough for the players, especially at the end of the game. I think we deserved the win, it was a real open game, the first goal could have also been scored by Wellington, so it was not a game we controlled for the whole 90 minutes,” Coolen said.

“Both teams had chances…and in the final minutes they had a couple of free kicks and corner kicks and you never know what can happen at the end, but the boys did it well, they were organised…we can do better of course and create more chances, but it-s acceptable the level we played today and it was enough to win the game so I-m really happy with the performance from the team.”

“The most important thing is you just have to win the game and that-s what we did, it-s a knockout system so I-m really happy at the moment and we have to see tomorrow how everybody pulls up and we have at least a week to recover and make the boys ready for the next important game.”

Coolen was also full of praise for his team-s concentration and ability to put aside the distractions that have surrounded the club in the past 48 hours.

“We had some problems in the last couple of days but if you see how the boys pulled up together and fought together as a team, it was a machine on the pitch,” Coolen said.

Constant rain throughout the day saturated the playing surface as both sides took time to adjust early on, the visitors arguably the ones more accustomed to the conditions.

The opening stages were a typically cagey affair with the season on the line for both clubs, the desperation demonstrated as first Wellington defender Jade North and then Cassio for the Reds produced desperate sliding tackles to prevent any goals coming inside the opening 20 minutes.

While both teams were trying to contend with the conditions, United were being made to weather a different storm as the Phoenix won a string of corners and were threatening, particularly through Marco Rojas down their left hand side. Eugene Galekovic was made to stay alert, the Reds stopper forced into a sharp save from a Nick Ward header.

On the half our Marcos Flores created something from nothing as he weaved his way superbly past a defender only to send his shot from outside the edge of the penalty area over the bar.

The arena resembled a washing machine as swirling wind and rain made fluent football near impossible, although just before half time Flores and Cassio instigated a slick counter attack, but the Brazilian-s eventual shot was kept out by Phoenix keeper Danny Vukovic, who had been largely untroubled up to that point.

Within the opening minutes of the second half the Reds came out a side more intent and purposeful, the game still very much in the balance.

Then in the 70th minute, the game-s telling moment came as three of United-s key movers combined to put the home side ahead.

With the ball in dispute, a desperate Flores lunge stopped Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund from taking possession on half way, and sitting on his haunches, the Argentine brilliantly flicked the ball into the path of Dodd who in turn found Sergio van Dijk.

Despite an initial slip, the Dutch striker perfectly weighted a return ball to split the Wellington defence leaving Dodd one on one with Vukovic, and the skipper coolly slotted the ball past the Phoenix custodian.

The Reds still had 20 minutes plus injury time to hold on, and they were made to sweat as a looping far post header from Phoenix captain Andrew Durante found the cross bar in the 77th minute.

But having expended so much energy, the conditions eventually started to take their toll as fatigue started to set in, the Reds and majority of the 10,285 crowd welcoming the final whistle as they now prepare for a second home cut throat final.

The date, kick-off time and ticketing details of next weekend-s elimination final is still to be confirmed.

Match Details Adelaide United FC 1 (Dodd 70-) Wellington Phoenix 0 Referee: Jarred Gillett Crowd: 10,285 @ Hindmarsh Stadium

Adelaide United: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 6.CASSIO, 8.Adam HUGHES, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Marcos FLORES (7.Lucas PANTELIS 75-), 11.Andy SLORY (19.Mathew LECKIE 61-), 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Cameron WATSON, 16.Dario BODRUSIC, 21.Francisco USUCAR (2.Robert CORNTHWAITE 84-)

Substitutes not used: 17.Iain RAMSAY, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk) Yellow cards: Watson 23-, Flores 36- Red cards: Nil

Wellington Phoenix: 19.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Tony LOCHHEAD, 4.Nick WARD, 6.Tim BROWN, 13.Troy HEARFIELD (9.Chris GREENACRE 73-), 15.Jade NORTH, 18.Ben SIGMUND, 21.Marco ROJAS (11.DANIEL 88-), 22.Andrew DURANTE (c), 23.Dylan MACALLISTER (8.Paul IFILL 61-)

Substitutes not used: 17.Vince LIA, 20.Reece CROWTHER (gk) Yellow cards: Muscat 4-, Ward 29- Red cards: Nil