Reds, GCU secure finals action

Adelaide United and Gold Coast United booked their places in the National Youth League finals series after sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday.

Adelaide United and Gold Coast United booked their places in the National Youth League finals series after sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday.

The Reds ended the season proper in third, four points behind next week's opponent Perth Glory, while Gold Coast crept into the top four, nudging out Sydney on goal difference.

The Reds' spot was virtually assured bar a catastrophic loss to Gold Coast as Sydney held Central Coast Mariners and tentatively denied them the minor premiership with a goalless draw on Saturday.

Saturday night's fixture saw Perth miss the chance to clinch the premiers' plate in a nail-biting 3-2 loss to Newcastle.

Adelaide United took an early lead 10 minutes into the first half through Evan Kostopolous.

The Baby Red powered a thunderous strike towards goal and Gold Coast keeper Jerrad Tyson parried the ball.

It bobbled in mid-air for a moment before crossing the line to the joy of the Reds.

Robson attempted to get Gold Coast back into the match with a rasping shot.

After a slick build up, Robson was teed up on the edge of the area by Ben Halloran.

The Brazilian's shot, though, was tipped over by Codey Larkin in the Adelaide goal.

The Reds began to assert their authority on the match with their wide players finding more space.

Lloyd Owusu had a couple of chances before the break.

Some loose checking from Gold Coast allowed Owusu to receive the ball inside the area but his shot from 9m was well saved by Tyson.

On the stroke of half-time the burly centre-forward was the first to react and picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and cracked it first time, but watched as his shot whizzed past the post.

Gold Coast opened the stronger of the two sides in the second half knowing a draw would see it through to the finals.

After a quiet first half Taj Minnecon ramped up his game and looked more dangerous as Robson also found more of the ball.

With 55 minutes gone on the clock, Gold Coast grabbed an equaliser through Minnecon.

The young speedster raced onto a through ball and showed incredible pace to out-run two Adelaide defenders and coolly fire home past the advancing Larkin.

The Reds line-up included the likes of Paul Reid, who is on the comeback trail, Owusu and Inseob Shin, and the senior players began to step up for Adelaide, in a bid to stop the ever-pressing Gold Coast.

Reds striker Francesco Monteroso, who secured his second consecutive National Youth League Golden Boot award with 16 goals for the season, was substituted on the hour mark and his replacement Andrew Ciarla almost gifted Adelaide victory.

The midfielder beat the offside trap before crossing to the back post and finding fellow substitute Liam Wooding who could only watch his header hit the wood work.

Gold Coast went down the other end and very nearly claimed all three points when Mitchell Bevan's shot caused chaos in the Reds box.

The shot was initially saved by Larkin but ricocheted off a defender and onto the crossbar.

The Reds' blushes were spared, though, and the ball was eventually cleared.

Adelaide United next week travels to Perth to meet the Glory while Gold Coast heads south to face off against minor premier Central Coast.

The winners will meet in the Grand Final to be played on March 20.