Captain's knocks, new faces and match-winning braces: The A-League players who were the difference in Round 19
Round 19 was an interesting weekend of football with no draws, 19 goals in six matches, two five-goal games on Sunday and for the…
Adelaide staked their claim for the A-League Premier’s Plate while denting Sydney’s FC’s hopes with a 1-0 win over the Sky Blues on Saturday courtesy of a late Awar Mabil winner.
Sydney were left to rue a glut of chances but a standout performance from gloveman Eugene Galekovic, who made nine brilliant saves and then provided the assist for Mabil, ensured the Reds went home winners at a rain-soaked Allianz Stadium.
Adelaide temporarily take a one-point lead on the ladder with Wellington, Melbourne Victory and Perth yet to play.
Sydney continued their poor home form, with all five losses this season coming at Allianz Stadium, to drop to fourth.
Sydney dominated the Reds, who for the first time in their history, didn’t register a single shot on target in the opening half.
After missing last week’s clash on international duty, Marc Janko was back leading Sydney’s attack.
And he almost found the back of the net inside the first five minutes when Bernie Ibini whipped the ball across, but sent his header wide.
Ibini provided the perfect ball into the box again in the 17th minute with skipper Alex Brosque launching onto it to force a save from Galekovic.
Ibini continued to to terrorise Adelaide on the right wing, sending several more balls across the face of goal, the Sky Blues just unable to capitalise.
Brosque looked like finally breaking the deadlock just before the break with Galekovic pulling off a superb save to deny the striker.
Bruce Djite finally attempted the Reds’ first strike in the 47th minute, but it proved light work for gloveman Vedran Janjetovic.
The 11,585 fans were sent into raptures when Janko appeared to put Sydney ahead in the 51st minute, only to realise he had been correctly ruled offside.
Galekovic came to the Reds’ rescue in the 53rd minute to deny a shot from close range from Christopher Naumoff and again, two minutes later, to diffuse a shot from Brosque.
The Sky Blues were dealt a blow with midfielder Mickael Tavares suffering what appeared to be a groin injury on the hour with Rhyan Grant replacing him.
With Janko having no luck, coach Graham Arnold made the bold move of taking the marquee striker off in favour of 17-year-old George Blackwood in the 76th minute.
But for all of Sydney’s tirades, it would be the Reds who would score when substitute Mabil was able to get on to a long ball from Galekovic to net a sensational strike in the 82nd minute.
Galekovic would deny the Sky Blues several times again before the final whistle, diffusing strikes from Blackwood, Matthew Jurman and Robert Stambolziev.