A last minute extra time header by Adelaide City’s elusive striker Nicola Miluesnic, was what it took to separate City from old foe West Adelaide in their Play Station 4 National Premier League Round 13 fixture.
By Joe Pangallo 5RTI Sports – 531AM
When the game was up for grabs late in the second half it was City who took the initiative to grab three vital points that sees them retain top spot on the League ladder.
The game had some analogies like an old fashioned poker game. Damian Mori (City Coach) deciding to keep his aces, Nicholas Bucco and Thomas Love up his sleeve (on the bench), while Paul Pezos (West Adelaide Coach) was happy to raise the stakes on the pitch.
In windy conditions the game opened with two goals in the first five minutes. The first a goal from Anthony Costa in the second minute, gave City the lead. But four minutes later a Tommy Briscoe strike levelled the score.
West Adelaide appeared more fluent going forward, their midfield got on top of their City opponents. Tony Hatzis, Tommy Briscoe and Hikaru Tanaka put a strangle hold on the middle third denying City a look on the ball.
Paul Belfari was outstanding in the City defence clearing everything that came in his direction. He was well supported by Joel Allwright, who gave City plenty of run out of defence through the left channel.
On the other side of the park Nathan Adijanto, Mitch Nicholson and the late inclusion James Ryan, were impenetrable in West Adelaide’s defensive half. Joseph Wright in his first game back in the Blue and White shirt had a great duel with Mamdi Kamara.
West Adelaide was clearly in control for the first 45’, but had to settle for parity as both teams went into the halftime break on level terms,
The second half was a lack lustre affair for the first twenty-five minutes as both defences stood tall, Daniel Atkins in the West goals pulled off some great saves to keep his side in the contest.
West Adelaide’s forward duo Ricardo Da Silva and Perry Mitris started to see more of the ball as they tried to find a way through the solid City defence.
As Pezos raised the stakes it was time for Mori to throw down his aces, and the introduction of Nicholas Bucco and Thomas Love turned the game City’s way. Bucco’s influence on the game allowed Allwright and Love to drift forward into dangerous scoring positions. Mileusnic and Anthony Costa were relishing the ball delivery coming their way courtesy of the City midfielders.
City looked the more likely late in the game to snatch the winner but time seemed to be their enemy.
As the final whistle drew near, West Adelaide’s defence tried valiantly to repel City’s forward onslaught. In what would be the final play of the day in the 94th minute, a well flighted ball by Allwright into the box found Milluesnic who headed home the winner.
A disappointed West Adelaide keeper Daniel Atkins said after the match that they had opportunities in the first half to take the lead, but couldn’t capitalise on the hard work done by the midfielders.
“We were well on top in the midfield in the first half but couldn’t create enough chances to score.” Atkins said
“We couldn’t find a clean run at goal. Perry (Mitris), John (Karatzas) and Ricardo (Da Silva) tried hard all day.
A relieved Paul Blefari said that his team fought it out to the end, always believing that they had another goal on offer.
“West Adelaide are a quality team and we knew we would have to fight for the full ninety minutes if we were going to get the result going our way” Belfari said
“We started slow, and our final passes let us down, allowing them easy breakaways through the midfield.”
“Nicholas (Bucco) and Thomas (Love) really gave us the edge when they came on off the bench, and you could feel the game swinging or way.”
It was a master ploy by Mori that paid dividends, but one wonders what the final result would have been if Love and Bucco started in the first eleven.
The win allows City to sneak two points clear of Campbelltown who are hot on their heels for that top spot. City will next play host to 9th placed Adelaide Olympic.
While for West Adelaide they still find themselves a game outside the top six with a challenging encounter with the 4th placed Adelaide Comets next week.
Written by: Joe Pangallo 5RTI Sports – 531AM