Preview: Adelaide United v Gold Coast United

It was barely a month ago when these two sides last locked horns, and the result helped even out their overall head-to-head ledger.

Date: Friday, 16 December 2011 Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT, 7.30pm local Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium

Head-to-head Played 8: Wins: Adelaide 2, Gold Coast 2, Draws: 4

Previous encounter Adelaide 2, Gold Coast 1, 11 November 2011

History: It was barely a month ago when these two sides last locked horns, and the result helped even out their overall head-to-head ledger. Former Gold Coast midfielder Zenon Caravella opened the scoring for Adelaide in the second half, but then got in the way of old teammate James Brown's shot on goal, deflecting in the equaliser. Iain Ramsay sealed the points for the Reds with a deft curling finish just two minutes later.


Past five matches: Gold Coast: LLLLD Adelaide: WDDLD

Summary of form: Not good for either team, in terms of results. Adelaide and Gold Coast boast a combined three wins for the season, and one of them came by default, the last time they met.

Miron Bleiberg's men haven't won since October, but broke a five-match losing run with a bore scoreless draw against Sydney. Even though they're last, on pure football terms they perhaps have less to worry about than the Reds, who have been one of the season's biggest disappointments given their movements in the transfer market. Rarely has the South Australian club convinced this term.

Match Committee: There's been no new patients admitted to the medial room at Hindmarsh, with just Brazliian stalwart Cassio the only long-term absentee. For Gold Coast, stopper Ante Rozic put in a full 90-minute shift in the National Youth League last weekend and is available for selection - but much hinges on whether the club decides to appeal Jonas Salley's two-week ban for "serious foul play". Joel Porter (calf) is still missing.

Danger men:

Ben Halloran - The emergence of Cairns-born youngster Halloran has been fantastic to watch this season. Having graduated with honours from United's two-time National Youth League-winning team, the 19-year-old has always been quick, daring and agile, but he's taken a major step forward over the past few weeks.

Halloran has now started to make a habit of putting his light frame on the line for his team, squeezing himself between defenders and drawing fouls down the touchline and around the box. The sky is the limit for Halloran, and Adelaide's back four best have their wits about them on Friday if he starts.

Dario Vidosic - Broken back? What broken back? When news broke that part-time Socceroo Vidosic had fractured two vertebrae in his back against Newcastle, it looked to have been a crippling blow to Adelaide's season.

But two weeks later, by some freak of nature, he was back, playing 45 minutes against Victory on the weekend. Now instead of being without his No.10 for the long term, Rini Coolen has a fit and available Vidosic at his disposal - and just in time for the marquee man to Adelaide's their flailing season.

At the end of the day… Gold Coast won't be able to lift themselves off the bottom of the ladder, even with a win - they're four points adrift of ninth place - but they have the chance to strike a significant psychological blow to Adelaide's season here.

The Reds are only just hovering above the Glitter Strip boys in ninth place, but that buffer zone could quickly evaporate if they let their guard down on Friday night. On the flip side, if Gold Coast lose, then the gap between themselves and the rest of the competition will widen to a near-fatal seven points.

Neither side is particularly confident at the moment - they both played out rather dour draws at the weekend, with a lack of spark up front a key concern. Don't expect champagne football - this is a battle for the wooden spoon, remember - but this will be a desperate game that neither side can really afford to lose. Expect a tough, gritty draw.