Preview: Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory
The Adelaide Oval hosts one last blockbuster before United embark on their quest for finals glory!
Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory Friday 11th February 7:30pm
What a difference a season makes. This time last year, Adelaide United were fighting to avoid the wooden spoon. It was a battle they were destined to lose. Fast-forward 12 months and the side from South Australia go into the last game of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season wondering who their opponents will be in the finals.
What progress they have made under Rini Coolen. Indeed, the fact that there is a discernable hint of disappointment at not having finished in the top two shows just how far they have come in such a short space of time.
So, with the finals looming, why not get along to The Oval, show your appreciation for a fantastic Hyundai A-League campaign and make the team aware of just how behind them the city of Adelaide is.
Having led the table for much of the start of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season, United never quite sustained that early form and eventually slipped behind Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners.
Last weekend-s shock home defeat to Wellington Phoenix was the final nail in their top-two coffin, but that doesn-t mean there isn-t quality throughout the whole squad that will make any team fear them in the play-offs.
Their defence is solid, they have a play-making midfield and, in Sergio Van Dijk, boast one of the deadliest strikers in the league. So, regardless of where they finish in the ladder when the final whistle blows on Friday, they will enter the finals with confidence and certainly as one of the favourites to walk away victorious.
Their opponents on the last day of the regular season will also make up part of the end-of-season shake-up. Despite having shown huge inconsistency throughout the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season, Melbourne Victory have won enough games when it mattered to have secured their finals place and they-ll be looking for one last great show before they get involved in the play-offs.
They go into this match-up well rested, as they had last weekend off, so will certainly have a spring in their step as they jostle for position in this last throw of the dice before they get down to the knockout business.
Last time United played at Adelaide Oval, they ended a three-game losing streak with a convincing 2-0 win over a typically lacklustre Sydney FC outfit just after Christmas. United had lost four of their past five matches but second-half goals from van Dijk and a deflected Cassio cross were enough to get The Reds back to winning ways.
While they-ll be without the injured left-back on Friday, a similar performance would do very nicely indeed as Rini Coolen-s players seek a much-needed confidence booster ahead of the finals. Having netted 12 times in two games in January, United have scored just one goal and picked up a solitary point from their last three matches. If ever there was a good time to get back to winning ways, it is now.
Cast their recent blip aside though, and it-s been a fantastic season overall for United. It-s certainly not over yet either. So make your way to the Adelaide Oval - traditional a happy hunting ground for the home side - and send your club into the finals with unprecedented support. Paint the town red; this could be your year!