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United's morale boosted but more work to be done

Soccer

Adelaide United’s recent wins are a welcome turnaround in form – but is it too soon to say that they’re back? Spiro Karanikos-Mimis casts his eye over the Reds’ season.

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Sixty seconds.

That’s how long it took Craig Goodwin to remind everyone (Adelaide fans, A-League fans, Graham Arnold and Al-Wahda) about his value.

It beggars belief that the super-talented winger only has five Socceroo caps to his name.

His goal was just the spark Adelaide needed after a torrid few weeks, which included a spell of four losses in five games and a fortunate three points against the Mariners.

The win against Western Sydney was a good old snatch-and-grab and a welcome change from Adelaide’s miserable away form so far this season.

Whilst the two wins against the Mariners and Wanderers are welcome (a win is a win, as they say), and relieved pressure on the underperforming Reds, an objective analysis of their performances suggests there is still much room for improvement.

Now, I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom. I acknowledge that Adelaide is a young team, with many players still learning their craft.

But it’s hard to ignore that defensively, Adelaide is very poor.

For example, Adelaide allowed a combined 43 shots at goal (16 on target, 17 off target, 10 blocked) against the Mariners and Wanderers. The Reds managed 26 shots at goal in those two matches.

James Delianov is averaging 4.5 saves a game. Only Tando Velaphi comes close at 4.25 saves a game but the Perth custodian has only played four matches this year.

The Reds have conceded the most goals of any team in the A-League so far and have the equal second worst goal difference in the league, with only Melbourne Victory worse off.

Furthermore, United has the second least amount of shots at goal, and the equal worst passing accuracy in the league.

The good news: the Reds have the best home form in the league (three wins and a loss).

With all this said, it’s obvious that the team is still a work in progress. And I’m the first to put my hand up and say that I was talking up the Reds this season as potential title challengers.

I still firmly believe that Adelaide is good enough to finish in the top four and can make a tilt at silverware.

When they’re on, they are a fabulous, free-flowing outfit that plays with exciting attacking endeavour.

But they are yet to be “on” for more than smallish segments during matches.

A cursory glance at all the games this season tells a tale that the Reds are yet to dominate anyone:

Round 1 at Western United: a great first half followed by a dour second half.

Round 2 versus Melbourne City: a win against Melbourne City, but the game only turned after the sending off of Scott Jamieson. Before that, City dominated.

Round 3 at Perth Glory: completely dominated.

Round 4 versus Melbourne Victory: the Reds play well but still allow Victory, the league’s worst team, many chances.

Round 5 at Brisbane: the Roar wins comfortably.

Round 6 versus Perth Glory: the visitors come from behind to win a game in which Castro and Kilkenny dominate.

Round 7 at Macarthur: lost by four goals – and could have been six or seven.

Round 8 versus Central Coast: a win but the Mariners were the better team.

Round 9 at Western Sydney: another win but the Wanderers were never out of the contest.

And so, Friday’s match against Newcastle poses an interesting scenario for Veart and his players.

The Jets are a good team and their away form is solid (two wins, two draws and a loss).

Adelaide needs to really show their worth and go out with the intention of dominating an opponent for the first time this season.

If the current trend continues, it could be another topsy-turvy night for fans and players alike.

A reminder: kick-off for Friday night’s game is now 7:05pm, rather than the previously scheduled 6:35pm.

And another thing…

On the flip side, Adelaide United’s W-League team keeps rolling along nicely.

They currently find themselves in third place, with three games to go – four points clear of fifth placed Canberra.

Of the three remaining games, two are scheduled to be played in Adelaide. They have to play first placed Sydney this week and second placed Brisbane next week, before finishing their season with a home game against the Wanderers (they have a bye in the final round of the season).

The Wanderers game may be the one that seals Adelaide’s first ever finals appearance. And, of course, it’s a freebie.

Let’s get behind the women as they seek to make history for the club.

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