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FFA Cup Round of 16 review: United become first team through to the quarters

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Roar Guru
18th October, 2021
7

Adelaide United continued their march in the FFA Cup, grinding out a hard fought 1-0 victory against SA NPL side Adelaide Olympic on the weekend. United became the first club to qualify for the quarter-finals of the FFA Cup in 2021.

The Adelaide Olympic chairman and coach came out last week in the press and were very confident of causing an upset even though their season finished weeks ago.

United coach Carl Veart was unusually subdued with the media and in a pre-cursor of things to come, mentioned that the artificial pitch wouldn’t be a problem.

The VALO Sports Centre has one of the only artificial pitches in Adelaide. Even though these pitches are everywhere in Europe, they are not common yet in Australia.

Anyone that has stepped on an artificial pitch knows that it plays completely differently to your standard grass pitch.

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The surface can be quite abrasive and any central midfielder that is constantly running for 90 minutes will complain of the heat that comes off the pitch.

It’s no surprise that injuries are more common as well, which goes a long way to explain why players don’t go to ground tackling as much compared to grass.

The ball movement and awkward bounce can be unnerving and take some time to get used to, much like ball speed. It is difficult to judge a weighted pass or make a late run into the box due to the extra pace the ball picks up on this type of surface.

The three-time cup winners struggled throughout on the pitch. The swirling wind and blinding sunshine also became factors.

United started fast with a player who has been impressive this preseason, 17-year-old Bernardo, who was involved in everything good on the day.

His low centre of gravity and ability to run and dribble at pace caused plenty of headaches for Olympic’s stoic defence.

He had a great chance to open the scoring in the fifth minute after cutting in, only to see his tame shot saved.

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Bernardo

Bernardo. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Ten minutes later he had an assist though, as his corner kick evaded everybody and fell to the feet of Jacob Tratt at the back post to open the scoring.

United were in the ascendency and had a couple more half chances, including a Ryan Kitto cross that cannoned off the crossbar, but were unable to add a second.

Olympic came out a much-improved side for the second half and were unlucky not to score when Kristin Konstandopoulos forced James Delianov into a diving save after getting his shot away through a crowded box.

Bernardo was then brought down in the area for a penalty, but Ben Halloran – who was having a nightmare of a match – saw his penalty saved by ex-AFL player Lewis Moss.

Moss produced an even better save minutes later from Juande’s daisy cutter on the edge of the box.

Olympic had one final chance late on through the normally reliable Fausto Erba. However, he couldn’t get his shot on target.

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Adelaide Olympic gave a very good account of themselves in particular the former Adelaide United youth-team players Michael Cittadini, plus Jason and Kristin Konstandopoulos.

Even though they were knocked out, Olympic shattered their home-ground attendance record with over 2600 people attending. The gate takings with the alcohol and food sold will net Olympic a tidy profit.

There were more teething issues for Channel Ten as fans took to social media to complain about the stream quality and sound, as well as complaints about the camera position, which took a second to show the ball played down the line.

United will be sweating on the fitness of Javi Lopez, who limped off, especially as the club already has five players missing through injury.

Bernardo once again proved he has an X factor and will be pushing hard for a starting XI berth when the A-League season kicks off.

It was not a great performance by any stretch of the imagination, and tougher tests await. But it was a win for United – ultimately a win is all that matters in cup football.

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