Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat believes the slick, slippery Adelaide Oval deck played a central role in Friday’s uninspiring and largely uneventful 1-1 draw with Adelaide United.
Highlights were in rare supply as the two A-League super-rivals dawdled together one of their less memorable affairs, which belatedly ignited in the last five minutes of regulation with Reds midfielder Sergio Cirio goaling in the 85th minute and Victory substitute Fahid Ben Khalfallah equalising just three minutes later.
Muscat lamented the fact his charges were unable to find any real spark – until it was almost too late.
“We’re a bit disappointed that we didn't get into our groove,” the Victory manager said.
“It was a difficult night. It was a quick pitch out there – really, really quick, (but) we could have adjusted to it a bit quicker.
“The game was really stop-start. It wasn't given an opportunity to breathe.”
The fact the visitors dusted themselves off so quickly after Cirio’s goal and refused to concede heartbreak pleased Muscat.
"It's a massive positive to go down one-nil here with six or seven minutes left (and equalise),” he said.
“(We had) the belief that we didn't want to get beat.
"But we have got to look at that as well because it just seemed to raise the intensity and raise the tempo after we conceded a goal.
"The game was an arm wrestle all night. If we gave ourselves a little bit more of a chance to build things, we would have been more dangerous."
Overall though, Muscat believed the landmark night was a success, with 33,126 filtering through the turnstiles, the largest crowd in South Australian football history.
It was a shame they weren't treated to a better spectacle and - from Muscat’s perspective - a higher-quality overall display from the Victory.
“Let’s not take away from the fact there are some good headlines to write,” Muscat said.
“It was a great night for football - (around) 33,00 here tonight.
“There were a lot of positives to take out of it.
“People come here and want to see a free-flowing, good brand of football but I don’t think the game was allowed to breathe.
“The fans were good but it was a shame from our perspective that we can play a lot better.”