Adelaide United’s 14-match unbeaten streak is over after Nick Fitzgerald’s first goal for Melbourne City snared the visitors a 1-0 win at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.
In a match of few chances, Fitzgerald’s sweet 71st minute strike secured City a well-earned victory to move within one point of the league-leaders.
Adelaide managed only two shots on target in Eugene Galekovic’s 250th match for the club and must now regroup for a crucial clash away to Western Sydney Wanderers next weekend.
1-0 Nick Fitzgerald (71’) – There can be few better ways to open your account for a new club. Harry Novillo, Jacob Melling and Aaron Mooy all combined in shifting the ball from left to right where Fitzgerald, lurking just inside the penalty area, was able to cut back across and curl an inch-perfect finish into the top corner.
With mere seconds remaining of stoppage time, Bruce Djite rose highest to meet Mate Dugandzic’s cross into the area.
He connected with power but the target man’s header drifted agonisingly past Thomas Sorensen’s post in what was the closest Adelaide had come to scoring in 94 minutes.
He’s the undisputed ‘King of Coopers’ and Eugene Galekovic’s superb 26th minute save provided a snapshot of just why the veteran goalkeeper is held in such reverence.
With a minimum of fuss, the two-time FIFA World Cup squad member flung himself towards the top corner to claw out a goal-bound Aaron Mooy free-kick.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
John van’t Schip’s decision to set City out in a flat 4-4-2 originally indicated more confusion over their best structure after last week’s experiment with a diamond midfield.
Instead, it was the Reds who were ill-equipped to deal with the alteration as they failed to find a way past Osama Malik and the City defence. Hyundai A-League coaches will be taking note.
THE FINAL WORD
Adelaide United’s startling run has finally come to a close with just four matches remaining in the regular season.
Western Sydney Wanderers now both have the chance to leapfrog the Reds, who head to Pirtek Stadium for a blockbuster top-of-the-table clash next Saturday night.
City – despite again shifting formation – appear more far more at peace defensively with Patrick Kisnorbo and Alex Wilkinson forming a stable partnership, although it’s Fitzgerald who they have to thank for clawing to within one point of first place.
Adelaide United: Galekovic (gk), Marrone, McGowan, La Rocca, Elsey (Dugandzic 81’), Mells (Isaias 63’), Mauk, Carrusca (Kamau 46’), Cirio, Djite, Goodwin
Melbourne City: Sorensen (gk), Franjic, Kisnorbo, Wilkinson, Garuccio, Malik, Fitzgerald, Mooy, Novillo, Fornaroli (Dekker 85’ (Trifiro 90’+4)), Zullo (Melling 70’)
Scorers: Fitzgerald 71’
Red Cards: Nil
Yellow Cards: Kisnorbo 13’, Malik 23’, Mells 25’, Zullo 32’, Djite 41’, Elsey 57’, Kamau 64’, Mooy 64’, Goodwin 86’
Conditions: 26°C, dry