Reds' season over after nail biting loss to GCU

Adelaide United FC’s season has ended in the second week of the finals following a gut wrenching 3-2 loss to Gold Coast United in front of just over 15,000 spectators at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Adelaide United FC-s season has ended in the second week of the finals following a gut wrenching 3-2 loss to Gold Coast United in front of just over 15,000 spectators at Hindmarsh Stadium.

The gripping cut throat encounter saw the Reds fight back from a 1-0 half time deficit to be 2-1 up with 20 minutes remaining thanks to goals from Sergio van Dijk and Mathew Leckie, before the Gold Coast hit back with two more goals to regain the lead, a lead they would hold onto until the final whistle.

Shane Smeltz put the Gold Coast in front at the break before it was cancelled out by a van Dijk penalty in the 56th minute. Leckie then gave the home side the ascendancy in the 70th minute, however the joy was short lived as former Red Bruce Djite levelled the scores again a minute later before Smeltz tucked away the winner, and his double, from the penalty spot in the 79th minute.

The emotional defeat is certain to take time for the Reds to digest, their attention now forced to turn to next season while Gold Coast moves through to a Preliminary Final date with the Central Coast Mariners.

Although disappointed by the result and left to rue what might have been, Reds Coach Rini Coolen was still proud of his players and says the Reds will definitely learn from the experience as the club moves forward.

“It was not a fantastic football game. Losing a game sometimes you accept it if the other team was much better - it was not today, I thought we deserved a little bit more, but you also have to look back at some of the mistakes we made,” Coolen said.

“If you prefer to win a game like this you have to make less mistakes. We created enough chances and we had to score once more, that-s the way it is. So it-s hard to accept because they were not better than us. Call it unlucky but you can also call it that it was not good enough today.”

After missing the first real chance of the game in the 28th minute thanks to a fine save from Reds keeper Eugene Galekovic, Smeltz broke the shackles with one of the best Hyundai A-League finals goals in the 38th minute.

A collision between Andy Slory and Steve Pantelidis had left the Reds a man down as Slory received treatment on the sidelines, Smeltz struck a devastating blow to put Gold Coast ahead.

The prolific marksman took possession 30 metres out and with the Reds defenders willing to stand off him, he took one glimpse at the goal before unleashing a missile into the top corner, Galekovic left in a sense of surprise and disbelief in the suddenness and venom of the shot.

Van Dijk flashed a shot across the goal face just before half time as the Reds looked for the quick reply but they would go into the break still trailing from Smeltz-s screamer, the home side with 45 minutes to try and keep their season alive.

The second half was barely five minutes old when the Reds were given a major fright as only the post and lightning reflexes from Galekovic kept Dino Djulbic-s header from crossing the goal line and giving Gold Coast a two goal buffer.

Battling to break down the Gold Coast defence, the Reds were then given a life line in the 55th minute when referee Chris Beath awarded the home side a penalty for illegal contact on van Dijk by Bas van den Brink during a corner. Van Dijk comprehensively dispatched the spot kick to lift the roof at Hindmarsh and put the Reds on level terms.

The Hyundai A-League-s Golden Boot winner curled another shot just wide before Adam Hughes and Nigel Boogaard narrowly misfired as the Reds started to get on top and they took the lead when Leckie beat Glen Moss after the Gold Coast stopper goal saved the first shot from Cassio following some superb interplay with Marcos Flores.

But the lead lasted less than 60 seconds as Gold Coast squared the ledger, Djite pouncing to head the ball into an open net after Galekovic did brilliantly to keep out a header from an unmarked Smeltz initially.

Set for an enthralling finale, the game then went back into the grasp of the Gold Coast as Boogaard brought down substitute Joel Porter in the area and Smeltz stepped up to beat Galekovic from the spot twice after he was made to retake the first kick due to Djite encroaching into the box early.

With their season on the line, the Reds threw everything into finding an equaliser as the crowd tried to lift the home side, but despite a tense five minutes of injury time, they could not force the game into extra time.

Match Details Adelaide United FC 2 (van Dijk 56- (pen), Leckie 70-) Gold Coast United 3 (Smeltz 38-/79- (pen), Djite 71-) Referee: Chris Beath Crowd: 15,028 @ Hindmarsh Stadium

Adelaide United: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 3.Nigel BOOGAARD (2.Robert CORNTHWAITE 90+1-), 6.CASSIO, 8.Adam HUGHES, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Marcos FLORES, 11.Andy SLORY (19.Mathew LECKIE 40-), 12.Paul REID, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Cameron WATSON (17.Iain RAMSAY 84-), 16.Dario BODRUSIC

Substitutes not used: 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Francisco USUCAR Yellow cards: Boogaard 78- Red cards: Nil Gold Coast United: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE (c), 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8.ANDERSON, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bruce DJITE (19.Andrew BARISIC 88-), 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK (14.Joel PORTER 70-), 15.Tahj MINNIECON (24.John CURTIS 81-), 33.Peter PERCHTOLD

Substitutes not used: 16.Kristian REES, 20.Scott HIGGINS (gk) Yellow cards: Smeltz 38-, Djite 47-, van den Brink 54-, Pantelidis 82- Red cards: Nil