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Manton St Tales

The best kind of Victory - and the worst kind

Manton St Tales

I’m not sure there’s a more satisfying type of win.

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Sure, it’s nice to wrap up three points with a late goal (as United did in its last A-League meeting with Brisbane in round 23 of last season).

But Friday night was something else. The Reds were 0-1 down with minutes to go before scoring an equalising goal and a winner.

Of course you don’t want to be behind, as United was for 79 minutes, but turning that around completely is an unexpected thrill (particularly given that in a situation like that you’d usually be happy to escape with a draw).

And the Reds now have four points after two away games with five of their next seven A-League fixtures in Adelaide.

Naturally we should keep a lid on it but there are plenty of reasons for optimism, particularly the quality of this season’s new signings and the way the team applies attacking pressure.

United’s winner was a little fortunate. While Johan Absolonsen’s strike was truly sublime the ball broke kindly for him when it could easily have spilled in another direction.

But the Reds did have the better of the second half. Before Ryan Kitto finally made it 1-1, George Blackwood was again within centimetres of a first A-League goal for the club from a chance he made for himself; a strong Daniel Adlung shot was deflected; and Nathan Konstandopoulos wasn’t far wide with a header.

Even Michael Marrone, a genuine stranger to scoring, forced a sharp save.

And during that period there were few chances at the other end. Paul Izzo did produce a fine double save but might have avoided having to do that if he’d cleared the ball more quickly beforehand.

Roar’s other decent effort in the second half – a swerving Brett Holman strike – was also kept out by United’s ‘keeper.

There are still things to iron out. As they did in round one, the Reds conceded early, and Ben Garuccio and Ersan Gülüm probably could have done a better job preventing Massimo Maccarone’s goal.

And while the Reds certainly attack with purpose, their forward play is likely to become more fluent as the season progresses.

Also, though United’s comeback – in an away game – was tremendous, there are going to be tougher tests. Brisbane doesn’t look like a top three team (as it has been in the last two seasons) and other sides will make life more difficult if they’re allowed to take the lead.

And before we get too far ahead of ourselves, our first home fixture is against our old nemesis: Melbourne Victory.

The teams also met in round three of last season, and straight after Victory had lost to crosstown rival Melbourne City (as they did on Saturday). It was a pulsating game in a near capacity Hindmarsh Stadium and, you might remember, the Reds hit the post twice in the final moments just before our beloved opponents went up the other end and scored a winner.

Sadly the atmosphere won’t be the same when the two teams meet this Friday night. The match will be at Adelaide Oval and it’s unlikely to be anywhere near a sell out.

We’ll probably be treated to something more similar to the Adelaide Oval meeting between the two sides in round one of the 2015-16 season – around 30,000 empty seats.

The only upside of that would be that the club is finally convinced not to use the venue again unless United earns the right to host a grand final as it did last year.

Still, this would be a great match to win. Victory may be pointless after two rounds but will probably provide the Reds with their sternest test so far. Then the seemingly rejuvenated Melbourne City visits Hindmarsh in round four.

Good results in both those games would give more reason to believe that the Reds will be contenders. And even if there are no trophies at the end of the season, given the club’s difficulties over the last 12 months, it’s a pleasant surprise to see the team is competitive again.

Paul Marcuccitti is InDaily’s soccer columnist.

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