Preview: Adelaide United v North Queensland Fury
Date: Friday August 28, Kick-off: 7:30pm ACST, 8:00pm AEDT After the Round 1 win over Perth, it was all positive for last year's runners-up, but the well has run dry since then as the Reds were held scoreless against Sydney and then Gold Coast, losing both games.
Date: Friday August 28 Kick-off: 7:30pm ACST, 8:00pm AEDT Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 3. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 107.9 LIFE FM (Adelaide). To purchase tickets visit www.venuetix.com.au
Head-to-head First meeting
Season so far: Adelaide United: Round 1: Adelaide United 1, Perth Glory 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 2: Sydney FC 1, Adelaide United 0, SFS Round 3: Adelaide United 0, Gold Coast United 2, Hindmarsh Stadium
North Queensland: Round 1: North Queensland 2, Sydney FC 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 2: Gold Coast United 5, North Queensland 0, Skilled Park Round 3: North Queensland 0, Melbourne Victory 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium
Analysis: One week after coming up short against one new club in Gold Coast United, Aurelio Vidmar's Adelaide United side faces the other new face in the competition, North Queensland, in a match it will be desperate to win to get some momentum into its season.
After the Round 1 win over Perth, it was all positive for last year's runners-up, but the well has run dry since then as the Reds were held scoreless against Sydney and then Gold Coast, losing both games.
Vidmar admitted post-match last week that the Reds could have easily got points out of those past two matches had they been able to finish. The ability to get the ball in the back of the net has been a real worry for Adelaide, with only a Travis Dodd penalty to show for 270 minutes of football this season.
Lloyd Owusu made his debut last week and looked lively, but is clearly not yet at top fitness while Cristiano's start to the season has been somewhat indifferent. While the Reds midfield is still very strong, it was somewhat exposed by the quick ball movement of Gold Coast last week. It meant that the Hyundai A-League's best defence from last year was under pressure for most of the night and yielded two goals.
Vidmar has lost Travis Dodd for this match, which is a huge out, but hopefully his calf injury will only keep him out for a week. It's the same story for Fabien Barbiero. Paul Reid returns in a boost for the Reds, while Mark Rudan is included. There seems to be a run of calf injuries at the club at the moment with Cassio and Kristian Sarkies both out long term with the same problem.
North Queensland put in a solid shift last week, but ultimately came up with nothing against Melbourne Victory after a defensive lapse allowed Archie Thompson to find the winner on the stroke of half-time. It was a much better performance than that produced in the 5-0 loss against Gold Coast, with the defence looking much more assured, and things looking more positive in attack.
It was Daniel McBreen, rather than Robbie Fowler, who shone up front, winning plenty of ball in the air as Ian Ferguson looked to a more direct route to goal from his charges. It nearly worked, with several good chances spoiled by poor finishing.
Shane Stefanutto is improving with every match he plays with the club, and was one of only two A-League players to get a Socceroos call-up for next week's friendly against Korea. He was even willing to try a few long-range shots early on, nearly catching out the opposition keeper. Ufuk Talay's first appearance for the Fury was promising as well as he looks to get back to full fitness. He will be vital to Ian Ferguson this year, especially in getting the most out of Fowler, who has had a relatively quiet start to his time in the Hyundai A-League.
Keeper Paul Henderson should be lauded for his excellent pair of one-on-one saves against Melbourne, which are sure to boost his confidence.
However, no matter how many positives you take out of last week, the fact is that after three rounds, North Queensland is still without a point. Ferguson faces a tough task here, with Hindmarsh Stadium traditionally one of the hardest places to get a point in Australia.
Ferguson wants to build confidence in his developing team by playing positive football, but he needs to ensure that on the road, his team is a chance of getting something out of the game and that may mean adopting a more counter-attacking style.
He has included Fred Agius and Chris Grossman for this match, with John Tambouras omitted and David Williams missing with a thigh injury. Another young gun, Osama Malik, is a week away with his thigh injury while former Red Jason Spagnuolo will miss the trip back to Adelaide with a hamstring injury.
Adelaide United Squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.ALEMAO, 4.Iain FYFE, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 7.Lucas PANTELIS (c), 9.CRISTIANO, 10.Adam HUGHES, 11.Lloyd OWUSU, 12. Paul REID, 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Francesco MONTEROSSO, 16.Inseob SHIN, 17.Michael MARRONE, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21. Mark RUDAN, 23. Joe COSTA *two to be omitted*
In: Paul REID (returns from injury), Mark RUDAN (promoted) Out: Fabian BARBIERO (calf - 1 week), Travis DODD (calf - 1 week) Unavailable: 18.Fabian BARBIERO (calf - 1 week), 13.Travis DODD (calf - 1 week), 6.Cassio (calf - 4 weeks), 8.Kristian SARKIES (calf - indefinite)
North Queensland Fury squad: 1. Paul HENDERSON (gk), 2. Robbie MIDDLEBY, 3. Chris Tadrosse, 6. Ufuk Talay, 8. Shane STEFANUTTO, 9. Robbie FOWLER (c), 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 15. Fred AGIUS, 16.Paul KOHLER, 18. James ROBINSON, 19. Daniel MCBREEN, 20. Justin PASFIELD (rgk), 22. Karl DODD, 23. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 24. Dyron DAAL
In: Fred Agius, Chris Grossman Out: John TAMBOURAS, David WILLIAMS (thigh - 1 week) Unavailable: Scott Wilson (foot - 4 weeks), Jacob Timpano (hamstring - indefinite), Jeremy Brockie (quadriceps - indefinite), Osama Malik (thigh - 1 week), Jason Spagnuolo (hamstring - 1 week)