Reds still in finals hunt

Adelaide United's honeymoon period under John Kosmina may have come to an end, but their Hyundai A-League finals chances cannot be written off.

Adelaide United's honeymoon period under John Kosmina may have come to an end, but their Hyundai A-League finals chances cannot be written off.

After a bright start under coach Kosmina's guidance, the Reds have started to struggle - partly due to a hectic schedule.

Winless in their last five - the most recent outing a 3-0 loss at home to the in-form Perth Glory - Adelaide desperately need a win against the Wellington Phoenix on Friday night.

The clash at Hindmarsh Stadium will be their fourth match in 14 days, a fixture list taking its toll on an already battered squad.

But Kosmina refuses to use it as an excuse, and rightly so.

After creating a 2-1 lead over the league-leading Central Coast Mariners, United lost 3-2, before going a goal ahead against the Newcastle Jets, only to be pushed on the back foot and end up settling for a 1-1 draw.

Even the loss to the Glory, as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests it was, could have been a different result had the Reds taken their early chances.

Striker Bruce Djite was the main culprit, squandering two glorious chances, while Glory were clinical at the other end.

Despite sitting second last, Adelaide are only four points off sixth-placed Sydney FC, a gap they should see as an opportunity.

Any side containing an attacking trio as good as Sergio van Dijk, Dario Vidosic and Djite will cause teams problems, but their defending has been a huge cause for concern.

Left-back Cassio has been missed, while the return of Milan Susak could not come quick enough for Kosmina.

At times, the defending has been shambolic - and a league-worst 33 goals conceded speaks volumes, albeit seven of those came in a thrashing at the hands of the Brisbane Roar.

Van Dijk is one goal away from his 50th in the A-League, and his form since Kosmina has taken over has been superb.

The Dutch-born striker had netted in five consecutive games before the Glory outing, a rich vein of form.

He will be crucial in the run home, with the Phoenix clash followed by meetings with Gold Coast United, Sydney, Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory.

Then, United's Asian Champions League campaign begins - and they finish the regular season with daunting matches against Roar and the Mariners.

Their performances over the next month will decide whether they can sneak into the top six, but with the talent at Kosmina's disposal - they should not be disregarded.