Preview: Adelaide United v Gold Coast United

Matches between the Hyundai A-League's two Uniteds are usually tight ones, but it's Gold Coast with the upper hand at the moment.

Date: Friday, 11 November 2011 Kick-off: 8.00pm AEDT, 7.30pm local Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium

Head-to-head Played 7: Wins: Adelaide 1, Gold Coast 2, Draws: 4

Previous encounter Gold Coast 3, Adelaide 2, 27 February 2011

History: Matches between the Hyundai A-League's two Uniteds are usually tight ones, but it's Gold Coast with the upper hand at the moment.

The last time they met was in last season's Minor Semi-Final, and it was the Glitter Strip club who crashed the party at Hindmarsh Stadium with a brace to Shane Smeltz and a goal to Bruce Djite sending Adelaide out of the finals race. But things are much different now - goal machine Smeltz is now at Perth, while Djite is back with the Reds for a second stint.


Past five matches: Gold Coast: DDLWL Adelaide: LWLLD

Summary of form: Adelaide have deviated significantly from the pre-season script penned by the majority of critics and pundits, who expected them to sit comfortably in the upper half of the table.

Instead, Rini Coolen's men have looked unorganised and off the pace despite boasting one of the best squads on paper this season. On the other side of the coin, those same pundits had Gold Coast down as wooden-spoon certainties - and they've looked anything but.

Though last weekend's controversial 3-2 loss to Sydney was a disappointment, the Coast have shown enough to suggest they've got finals material within them somewhere.

Match Committee: Gold Coast are still without Ante Rozic (knee) and Joel Porter (calf), while Josh Brillante has only just arrived back in the country after his international duties with the Australian under-19 side. For Adelaide, both Milan Susak and Evgeniy Levchenko will miss Friday night's match due to calf injuries.

Danger men:

James Brown - Having just earned a well-deserved call-up to the Olyroos, Brown will miss his side's next two games - which means Friday night is the perfect opportunity for him to leave a lasting impression on his coach and ensure his spot in the first XI is there when he gets back.

Not that he'll need to worry about that - the 21-year-old livewire has been one of United's best this season, scoring three goals in the first five games and earning the October nomination for the NAB Young Player of the Year Award for his efforts.

Bruce Djite - The 24-year-old former Socceroo will return to the scene of the crime of last season's Minor Semi Final, only this time he's wearing red. Djite left Gold Coast at the end of last season, choosing instead to hook up with his former club Adelaide in an effort to best position himself for a shot at silverware.

While his side's poor start to the season may have derailed those plans for the time being, Djite is the kind of player - explosive, powerful, hungry - who can turn their fortunes around. What better opportunity for him to open his account in his second stint with the Reds?

At the end of the day… These two sides are desperate for a win, and desperation always makes for an entertaining battle.

Though few expected much of Gold Coast United this season, their coach Miron Bleiberg has gone on record saying how disappointed he was that his side don't have more points to show for their promising start to the season. He set up for the full three points against Sydney last weekend because of that and, with Adelaide on the ropes, he may well do it again this Friday night.

Adelaide are still intent on righting the wrong that was their 7-1 mauling against Brisbane a fortnight ago. They took baby steps towards that goal against Melbourne Heart last Friday, despite being held to a 1-1 draw with a 10-man Heart.

This week, though, shapes as another opportunity for the Reds. They hold home ground advantage - even if this is officially a Gold Coast home game - and United have had to deal with a short five-day turnaround from their last match. The Reds should be fresher, but a draw looks most likely.