Wanderers, Reds both reduced to ten in all-action 1-1 draw
There was a goal and red card to either side in a gripping 1-1 draw played out between Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night.
Both teams reversed their roles in either half. Adelaide scored first through Tomi Juric before Louis D'Arrigo was dismissed for two yellow card offences in the first 45. After the break, the Wanderers struck back through Simon Cox before Mark Natta pulled Stefan Mauk down in a goalscoring position to join D'Arrigo in going down the tunnel.
The Wanderers equalised with 20 minutes to play, and looked set to capitalise on their one-man advantage before being reduced to ten men themselves as the two undermanned sides were forced to settle for one point apiece.
The result hinged on a three-on-one Wanderers counter attack deep into second-half stoppage time; Daniel Wilmering, Kwame Yeboah and Bernie Ibini burst toward goal with just one Reds defender in between them and Joe Gauci, but when Ibini received from Wilmering he fired wide of the mark to give the home side a lifeline.
The 1-1 result ensured the Reds and Wanderers joined Macarthur FC, Sydney FC and Melbourne City in dropping points throughout Matchweek 16. The five sides placed second to sixth on the A-League table failed to put any genuine pressure on Central Coast Mariners who will remain on top of the table despite not playing a game in the current Matchweek.
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Tomi Juric last featured in the A-League when he scored three goals from the penalty spot against Central Coast Mariners on February 19. Returning to the starting lineup to face the Wanderers, he made his impact felt almost instantaneously with a 4th-minute finish to put the Reds ahead.
Ben Halloran got the better of Natta and floated his cross to the back post, where Juric did the rest. The striker monstered Patrick Ziegler, rising high above the Wanderers defender to head the ball past Daniel Margush to grant his side an early 1-0 lead.
Before D'Arrigo's first-half dismissal, the young midfielder went close to doubling his side's advantage with a well-hit shot from distance, asking Margush to get down to his left to save.
He went on to receive his first booking on the half-hour mark, leaving one in late on Thomas Aquilina before receiving his marching orders just before half-time, stopping Mitch Duke's momentum as the Wanderers man steamed through midfield with the ball.
D'Arrigo and Reds boss Carl Veart were visibly furious with the decision, and the midfielder lingered on the pitch in the hope the decision would be overturned - but there was nothing doing, and D'Arrigo was forced to walk.
Bruce Kamau went close to compounding Adelaide's woes by darting ahead of Joe Gauci to poke a shot under the Adelaide 'keeper deep into first-half stoppage time, but the effort flashed wide of the post and the score remained at 1-0 in favour of the ten-man Reds.
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After the break, the hosts played as if they were the side with the one-man advantage.
The Wanderers failed to capitalise on their ascendancy as Adelaide bossed possession, creating numerous chances on goal in the process.
A shot from Halloran on the edge of the box deflected off Ziggy Gordon to miss the mark by the smallest of margins, before Ryan Strain ventured forward to connect with Mauk's through ball, going past Margush who misread the danger and firing wide of an open goal from the slim angle.
Carl Robinson brought Cox and Ibini off his bench, and the attacking pair helped turn the tide. Ibini beat Strain down the left flank with skill and speed, before his cross into the box flicked up off Juande and dropped on the head of Duke in the box.
Duke headed the ball toward the penalty spot where Cox took one touch before finishing on the volley to draw Western Sydney level.
Just moments after equalising, Cox struck another effort on goal which Guaci kept out with a brilliant save. Cox linked up with Duke again, who cut the ball from the byline for Cox to shoot low toward the bottom corner.
Guaci got down low and brushed the ball around the post.
In the 77th-minute, Natta brought Mauk down as he ventured in on goal. Mauk's controlled chest and header helped the Reds midfielder turn Natta and open up the scoring chance, but Natta dragged his opponent to the floor, leaving Elder no choice but to brandish the young defender a red card.
And so, with under 15 minutes to play, the two sides were both reduced to ten, and as the final whistle loomed Western Sydney found one last chance to snatch all three points.
It was a three-on-one situation for the visitors, as Wilmering burst down the left flank with Yeboah in the middle and Ibini on the right. He elected to send the ball across to Ibini, who took one touch, sized up the chance and blasted wide of the mark.
Adelaide United v Macarthur FC
Wednesday, April 14 2021
Kick-off: 7.35pm AEST
Western Sydney Wanderers v Brisbane Roar
Friday, April 16 2021
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
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