Adelaide have shaded the Glory over the journey due largely to their prosperous start and the Glory's comparably underwhelming beginning to the first few seasons following the Hyundai A-League's inception.
Date: Thursday 1 March, 2012 Kick-off: 8pm AEDT, 7:30pm local Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium
Head-to-head Played: 20 Wins: Adelaide 10, Perth 7, Draws: 3
Previous encounter Adelaide United 0, Perth Glory 3, 29 January 2012
History: Adelaide have shaded the Glory over the journey due largely to their prosperous start and the Glory's comparably underwhelming beginning to the first few seasons following the Hyundai A-League's inception. However, the Glory have won the last three clashes between the two sides including the 3-0 trouncing they dished out to Adelaide on their home turf on January 29, a victory among a run of five in six games for Perth.
Form: Past five matches: Adelaide: LLWLL Perth: WWLWL
Summary of form: Recent back-to-back losses effectively drew a line through any realistic hopes Adelaide had of making the finals. A lively start under John Kosmina, after his return to the club just before Christmas, has turned into anything but. The Reds' five-game undefeated spell that marked his return now read a distant memory after five losses in their past seven. Part of the problem is Adelaide's struggles finding the back of the net. Despite boasting the vaunted attacking trio of Dario Vidosic, Sergio van Dijk and Bruce Djite, the Reds have scored only five goals in their past six matches. Leading scorer van Dijk has not scored in the past five matches after scoring seven in his first 14.
The Glory were the form side in the competition. That was until they came crashing back to earth at the hands of the rejuvenated Brisbane Roar in a crushing 3-0 loss last Saturday. But the result said as much about Perth's mini-slump as it did about the Roar's ominous return to peak form. Plenty is at stake for the Glory after two losses in three games with Melbourne Heart nipping at the heels, a point adrift of their fourth spot.
Match Committee: Kosmina is one who hasn't yet given up on a finals berth despite much of the club's focus now on their AFC Champions League kick-off next Tuesday. He should have a relatively clean bill of health with games in quick succession to come but Francisco Usucar is unlikely to feature after being forced off with a hamstring injury against the Roar. Daniel Mullen and Antony Golec return from Olyroos duty.
For the Glory, boss Ian Ferguson is hoping Thursday's crucial match will be the last one key duo Liam Miller and Shane Smeltz miss with nagging injuries. The league's equal second leading scorer Smeltz (nine goals) has missed the past three matches with an ankle complaint while Miller has been unable to shake off a hamstring injury. In a further blow to their attack former Socceroo Mile Sterjovski is out of the equation, after agreeing to terms with Chinese side Dalian Aerbin. Josh Mitchell, however, is back in their squad after struggling with a knee injury for several weeks.
Danger men: Dario Vidosic has been the Reds' creative spark for much of the season with five goals and five assists and is the man most likely to hold the key for the home side. When the Reds have played well this season invariably the front three of Vidosic, Djite and van Dijk have combined to telling effect. If he is afforded space in the centre of the park, unlikely with Jacob Burns almost certain to ghost him, then the Reds are a chance.
Billy Mehmet played another full 90 minutes in Smeltz's absence against the Roar following two goals in two starts. The Irishman has scored five times in 20 appearances for the Glory this season and the former St Mirren striker is enjoying extra time in the Glory attack.
At the end of the day… This is a game the Glory should win. Despite a slight stutter and without Smeltz and Miller again the Glory will head to Hindmarsh confident of claiming all three points. For Perth, a finals berth is still no guarantee with the Heart and Newcastle Jets closing in and Sydney still in the frame for a top six spot. A win here with four games to go in the regular season, two at home, would almost certainly book their spot. Adelaide will have an eye on Tuesday's AFC clash with Uzbekistan side Bunyodkor, so we will wait and see which of their stars play the full 90 minutes. With the league's leakiest defence (Adelaide) and one of its strongest attacks (Perth), expect plenty of goals on Thursday.