Goodwin strike clinches sixth spot as Adelaide draw with ten-man Wanderers
Craig Goodwin’s equaliser sealed Adelaide’s A-League Finals Series return after an absorbing 2-2 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers kicked of the final round of the 2020/21 season at Coopers Stadium.
Wellington Phoenix’s finals hopes were ended as Goodwin marked his 150th A-League match by scoring his eighth goal of the campaign to secure sixth place for the Reds after Tass Mourdoukoutas’ 36th-minute red card saw Wanderers lose grip of their first-half lead.
Carl Veart’s Reds set their intentions from the off and Ryan Strain’s cross forced Ziggy Gordon to turn the ball into his own goal in the 11th minute, but the away side hit back midway through the opening stanza when Strain returned the favour, deflecting the ball into his own net following Bruce Kamau’s effort.
Premier League veteran Graham Dorrans’ third A-League goal on the half hour mark left Adelaide facing the prospect of seeing their finals ambitions slip out of their hands but Mourdoukoutas’ sending off for a studs-up tackle on Louis D'Arrigo left Carl Robinson’s side facing a hour to play with a player disadvantage.
The South Australians came blazing forward after the half-time interval and Goodwin’s drilled strike in the 56th minute calmed the nerves around the City of Churches. While a three-point haul would have lifted Adelaide into third place on the ladder, Veart’s side were left hanging on to sixth spot when Wanderers substitute Jordon Mutch was denied at close range by James Delianov late on.
Adelaide had their own chances to claim the win, but a draw closed the door on the Phoenix with the New Zealand outfit four points adrift heading into their final match against Macarthur FC on Saturday, as Veart celebrated his first full season in charge by leading the Reds back to the post-season following a year’s absence despite only claiming three wins in their last 13 games.
A three-match losing streak earlier this month had brought a close to Western Sydney’s top-six ambitions, and Adelaide appeared the most driven in the opening exchanges with Strain drilling over following Kitto’s left-wing delivery and Louis D’Arrigo forcing Wanderers gloveman Daniel Margush to make a full-length save after Ben Halloran flicked on Goodwin’s corner in the opening five minutes.
After Javi Lopez’s fired one attempt over, Margush was called into action again with a leaping stop to parry the Spaniard’s stinging ninth-minute drive away for a corner, and the relentless early pressure finally paid off when Halloran flicked Al Hassan Toure’s pass into the path of a rampaging Strain and a stretching Gordon turned the Reds full-back’s cross into the back of his own net.
Despite dominating the opening quarter, Adelaide suddenly lost control as Western Sydney flew forward for the first time in the 22nd minute. Thomas Aquilina’s storming right-wing run resulted in his cross being swept towards goal by Wanderers’ top scorer for the season, Bruce Kamau, and Strain was left in the wrong place at the wrong time, diverting the off-target shot past goalkeeper Delianov and into the Reds’ net.
In a passage played at breathless pace, Veart’s side went back in search of the ascendancy in the 25th minute with Lopez once again trying his luck with a swerving effort that was gathered by Margush at the second attempt, but five minutes later the hosts were rocked when Scotland international Dorrans fired the visitors into the lead with a laser strike from 20 yards after Kamau touched on Keanu Baccus’ delivery.
But after Halloran could not hit the target with a free header at the back post from six yards out following Goodwin’s whipped cross, Wellington’s hopes of snatching the final top-six berth from under Adelaide’s nose were dealt a hammer blow when Mourdoukoutas was shown a straight red card following a mistimed lunge on D’Arrigo, leaving Western Sydney with almost an hour to navigate with 10 players.
Veart sent on Tomi Juric at half-time, returning from a calf strain, but the Reds almost faced a mountain to climb when Aquilina lashed a rocket strike off the corner of post and crossbar, before Goodwin stung the hands of Margush with a swerving 25-yard thunderbolt. However, the five-cap Socceroo made no mistake when Halloran’s cross skimmed through a crowd of defenders, rifling in the equaliser on the half volley.
Moments later, Juric slammed a close-range effort of the post as Adelaide chased the insurance goal. However, Wanderers kept chasing the win. Local lad James Troisi’s introduction from the bench was met with a chorus of boos and the hosts were given a fright when Delianov recovered with a crucial block after his sloppy pass went straight to Mutch. Despite that scare, a share of the points proved enough for the Reds.
Next fixture – Matchweek 24
Macarthur FC v Wellington Phoenix
Friday, 4th June 2021
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
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