Red-hot Adelaide United extended their winning streak to four-in-a-row and their undefeated run to nine in succession with a workmanlike 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets at Coopers Stadium on Sunday.
Marcelo Carrusca's tap-in goal on the cusp of the half-time whistle proved the difference as the Reds withstood every obstacle the gallant, much-improved Jets could throw at them before and after the match-winning strike.
Minus star playmaker David Carney and skipper Nigel Boogaard, the ninth-placed Jets showed plenty of ticker in a much-improved showing following last week's 6-1 humiliation against Perth Glory.
1-0 Carrusca (43') - Bruce Djite muscled his way past Newcastle centre back Daniel Mullen, turning his former teammate inside-out and rifling one towards goal. The ricochet fell neatly into the path of Carrusca, who thundered home the tap-in from point-blank range.
With the Jets enjoying a five-minute spell of first-half dominance, winger Enver Alivodic missed a prime opportunity to pounce and deliver the visitors the lead in the 21st minute.
On a two-on-one break, Alivodic was played in hesitantly by fellow Serb Milos Trifunovic and, even more hesitantly, pulled his shot wide in rather tame fashion.
In a match that never reached any real heights from a spectacle point of view, it is fitting that the game's clearest highlight came courtesy of some outstanding Reds defending.
With the Jets charging forward on 36 minutes, Adelaide's backmen produced three desperate blocks in a matter of seconds to deny the visitors and thrill the home crowd.
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Carrusca's 43rd-minute strike was the first goal between these two sides in 223 largely dour minutes of regulation this season.
The two previous meetings between the Reds and Jets this season resulted in 0-0 draws.
THE FINAL WORD
In recent weeks, Adelaide have demonstrated an ability to win with dash and flair. On Sunday the Reds proved themselves capable of succeeding as genuine scrappers in a tough-fought victory.
Adelaide can leap to fifth or even fourth spot on the A-League table with victory against Sydney FC at Hindmarsh next Friday.
Newcastle scrapped hard and were valiant in defeat. The Jets face another tough task when they host third-placed Melbourne City in seven days time.