Adelaide United FC was minutes from celebrating its 10th Anniversary before Melbourne Victory equalised deep into injury time for a 2-2 draw at a packed Coopers Stadium tonight.
The Reds led 2-0 with 20 minutes to play in front of record Hyundai A-League crowd for the venue of 16,504 but a second half surge from the visitors saw the points shared.
United were made to reshuffle their line up heading into the clash with Nigel Boogaard and Isaias both out through suspension, while playmaker Marcelo Carrusca was a late withdrawal after suffering a groin injury at training on the eve of the match.
It did not help that Daniel Bowles limped off after just 15 minutes with an ankle problem giving Coach Josep Gombau more food for thought, although it gave youngster Awer Mabil an opportunity to and he vertainly was not overawed by the occasion.
Melbourne should have broken the deadlock but Connor Pain wasted a guilt edged chance from close range.
Victory was made to rue the missed opportunity when Sergio Cirio slipped Jeronimo through with a delightful ball, the Argentine adjudged to have been brought down in the area by the on rushing Nathan Coe.
Cirio stepped up and converted the spot kick only to be made to retake it after Victory’s Leigh Broxham was booked for encroaching. The Spaniard made no mistake at the second attempt, again sending Coe the wrong and handing United a 1-0 lead.
The forced change saw Mabil enjoy plenty of action wide on the left and the speedster was involved in the Reds second goal four minutes later.
Receiving the ball on the edge of the area, Mabil skipped past his marker and fired a shot into the upright and ricocheted off Coe, falling perfectly for the waiting Jeronimo who tapped the ball into the empty net.
Just after the half hour Victory thought they had equalised when Thompson latched onto a pass from Troisi and raced towards goal. With the goal at his mercy Thompson squared a pass to Pain who put the ball in the vacant net, only for it to be ruled dubiously offside.
Mabil nearly added a third 10 minutes after the restart, connecting with Steven Lustica’s corner, but his header was directed straight at Coe.
Victory had started the better of the two sides in the second half and continued to create chances with the best falling to Adama Traore whose rocket from the edge of the area was batted away by Eugene Galekovic.
Troisi was next to go close but his effort went wide with just Galekovic to beat, before the Reds keeper was called into action again minutes later tipping another shot from Troisi around the post.
Victory eventually pulled a goal back in the 78th minute when Guilherme Finkler squeezed his shot past Galekovic from the edge of the area after the Reds failed to clear a Kosta Barbarouses corner.
United was just hanging on against a fast finishing Victory, Thompson smashing a shot onto the crossbar from eight metres, but deep into stoppage time the Reds finally succumbed as Adelaide-born Troisi spilt the party when he expertly turned in a cross from Thompson.
Coming off just a five day break, Gombau was proud of how his charges fought the game out.
"I am satisfied with the game. I think we played a very good first half and in the second half our physical went down…we played on Sunday and made a big effort because we played with nine men for the last 12 minutes, and tonight I couldn’t make changes because we had players with injuries and players that were suspended,” Gombau said.
:But the team played well until the moment that we physically could not go anymore. The Victory were better than us in the second half, they created a lot of chances…I think the first half is for us, the second half for them.”
“Finally we drew, maybe they had more chances than us but this is football and I am satisfied with what the players did, and I think the next games with more time to recover and bringing players back we can do a better job.”
Adelaide United FC 2 (Cirio 23’ (pen), Jeronimo 25’)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Finkler 79’, Troisi 90+3’)
Referee: Alan Milliner
Crowd: 16,504 @ Coopers Stadium
Adelaide United starting line-up: 1. Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK) (c), 4. Jon McKAIN, 5. Osama MALIK, 7. JERONIMO, 9. Sergio CIRIO, 13. Steven LUSTICA, 14. Cameron WATSON (23. Jordan ELSEY 67’), 16. Daniel BOWLES (17. Awer MABIL 15’), 18. Michael ZULLO, 21. Tarek ELRICH, 22. Fabio FERREIRA (19. Jake BARKER-DAISH 82’)
Substitutes not used: 24. Brent McGRATH , 30. John HALL (GK)
Yellow Cards: Zullo 74’, Ferreira 80’, Galekovic 86’, Jeronimo 89’
Red Cards: Nil
Melbourne Victory starting line-up: 1. Nathan COE (GK), 3. Adama TRAORE, 4.Nick ANSELL (7. Gui FINKLER 72’), 5. Mark MILLIGAN (c) 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 11. Connor PAIN (9. Kosta BARBAROUSES 57’), 14. James TROISI, 15. Mitch NICHOLS, 23. Adrian LEIJER, 25. Jason GERIA
Substitutes not used: 16. Rashid MAHAZI , 20. Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 24. Scott GALLOWAY
Yellow Cards: Traore 11’, Nichols 21’, Broxham 22’
Red Cards: Nil