Reds edge out Phoenix

Adelaide United have cast aside a tumultuous and potentially destabilising 48 hours to secure a hard-fought 1-0 elimination final victory over Wellington Phoenix at a rain-sodden Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday.

Adelaide United have cast aside a tumultuous and potentially destabilising 48 hours to secure a hard-fought 1-0 elimination final victory over Wellington Phoenix at a rain-sodden Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday.

Rocked on the eve of the cut-throat clash by the defection of midfielder Paul Reid, the Reds, contending with driving rain and a strong, swirling breeze, also had to deal with a barnstorming start from the Phoenix to progress to the major round's second week on the back of a 70th-minute Travis Dodd goal.

Wellington entered the match on a four-game winning streak and bossed much of the contest which was played out in very New Zealand-like conditions, although they were unable to capitalise on their chances.

The Phoenix opened with plenty of aggressive intent, Manny Muscat over-doing the physical stuff somewhat when he copped a yellow card in the fourth minute after blatantly wrapping his arms around Adam Hughes and dragging him to the turf.

Not only were the visitors the intimidators, they were also the far better side early, generally looking more organised and definitely far more threatening, persistently pummelling the Reds' besieged defence.

Nineteen-year-old star Marco Rojas, with a burst of speed, gave Wellington an early look with a dangerous line-breaking run and short-range attempt in the eighth minute.

Muscat drove a hard, flat ball from distance which was clasped by United keeper Eugene Galekovic in the 10th minute and Tim Brown produced a mirror image attempt a minute later as the contest was played completely and utterly on the Phoenix's terms.

Wellington midfielder Nick Ward's superb header from a corner in the 21st minute was only denied by a leaping Galekovic with a right-handed swat as United had to scrap and defend three Wellington corners in as many minutes.

The Reds, meanwhile, were unable to get the thing in their forward half let alone even look like trouble the scorers.

Brown's long bomb attempt in the 24th minute was errant but for the Phoenix, it really looked a matter of if, not when the score would come. Sadly for them, it never did.

In a sign of the home side's frustration, Cameron Watson was booked by referee Jarred Gillett in the 23rd minute for an unnecessary foul on Troy Hearfield while Marcos Flores was similarly pinged with a yellow with a crude shirt-grab, also on Hearfield, eight minutes out from the half-time whistle.

Powerless to unshackle themselves from Wellington's iron grip, the Reds were forced to wait until the 32nd minute to finally have their first official shot when Flores had a chance from the top of the box.

Two minutes later, Sergio van Dijk nodded a terrific ball from Dodd wide from the back post, NZ international Ben Sigmund doing enough to heap the pressure on the Dutch striker to force the miss.

But Adelaide were finally throwing a punch and having weathered the Phoenix's cyclonic early storm, had steadied and ensured it was scoreless at half-time as the torrential rain continued to come down in sheets.

The rain eased in the second half but the contest was no less scrappy.

After a prolonged stalemate, Mathew Leckie, who was substituted on for the Reds in the 62nd minute for Andy Slory, almost produced the evening's first score three minutes later when his solo run and shot inside the box was denied by Wellington custodian Danny Vukovic.

Cassio's well-weighted corner in the 69th minute found Dodd whose strike was only denied by a Phoenix deflection by foot.

Dodd went one better a minute later and nailed his second goal in as many weeks when, one-out against Vukovic, he glided one past the Phoenix stopper and into the back of the net to have the poncho-clad home crowd in raptures, the Reds skipper having received a terrific pass from van Dijk on the back of some Flores magic.

Barbadian Paul Ifill, subbed on in the 62nd minute and seeing his first piece of on-field action since December, and in-form Chris Greenacre looked ominous at times as Wellington coach Ricki Herbert rang in the changes in the final few minutes.

A couple of hurried Phoenix corners deep into injury-time added to the high drama but they were errant and the tiring visitors, with only five days rest entering the match compared to Adelaide's seven, had done their dash.

United will host the winner of Sunday's knock-out finals clash between Gold Coast United and Melbourne Victory next Sunday, the winner of that fixture earning a preliminary final berth.

Adelaide United 1 (Dodd 70) Wellington Phoenix 0 Crowd: 10,285 at Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide