Adelaide United FC has held firm to record a hard fought 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets at Coopers Stadium.
Bruce Djite’s second goal from as many home games was enough to see the Reds clinch a valuable three points heading into the New Year, while it was also a third consecutive clean sheet.
It was a feisty and often spiteful match that was open from the kick-off as both teams created chances to break the deadlock, Sergio Cirio continuing on his stellar first Hyundai A-League season as he wreaked havoc out wide.
Returning to the starting line-up, the Reds looked most dangerous when utilizing Cirio’s skill and pace and he went close to the opener after 20 minutes, only a late intervention from Jets fullback Jacob Pepper keeping the game scoreless.
But in the 26th minute Adelaide’s relentless forward pressure bore the fruit of the Reds’ labour as Djite hammered home a tantalising Jeronimo cross that was deflected into his path.
Prior to the game Coach Josep Gombau highlighted the Jets’ often combative style and just before half time tempers threatened to boil over when Newcastle centre half Taylor Regan launched a late challenge onto Marcelo Carrusca, referee Chris Beath issuing the first of seven yellow cards throughout the game.
Newcastle came out of the blocks early in the second half with something to prove, Ruben Zadkovich and Carrusca having their own running battle in midfield as they constantly bit at each other’s heels.
United were able to halt the Jets’ pressure, the visitors introducing main strike weapon Emile Heskey with just over 20 minute remaining.
Substitutions also beckoned for Gombau who was forced to bring Barker-Daish on for Carrusca, who applied an ice pack to his groin, while Osama Malik also made way for Boogaard after copping an ankle injury.
Barker-Daish almost put the result beyond doubt in the 88th minute, his low hard effort superbly saved by Mark Birighitti, the ball hitting the inside if the post before going onto the other upright and somehow away.
But in the end it mattered little as the Reds sent the United faithful home happy and hopeful of more of the same in 2014.
“It’s important because for the third game in a row we have a clean sheet, in three games we are getting points, and this gives everyone confidence,” Gombau said.
The only concern for Gombau heading into Friday’s game with Sydney FC is that he may be without Carrusca and Malik who both left the field injured, while Jeronimo will serve a mandatory one match suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season. However, he will be more than happy to take some winning momentum into the January 3 clash against the Sky Blues.
“It’s important today but tomorrow we need to start to work again because on Friday we have another game without some important players through injury, and we need to work a lot this week to prepare for the game on Friday.”
Adelaide United FC 1 (Djite 26’)
Newcastle Jets 0
Referee: Chris Beath
Crowd: 10,778 @ Coopers Stadium
Adelaide United starting line-up: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 4.Jon McKAIN, 5.Osama MALIK (3.Nigel BOOGAARD 77’), 7.JERONIMO (17.Awer MABIL 77’), 8.ISAIAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA (19.Jake BARKER-DAISH 69’), 11.Bruce DJITE, 13.Steven LUSTICA, 18.Michael ZULLO, 21.Tarek ELRICH
Substitutes not used: 26.Anthony COSTA, 30.John HALL (gk)
Yellow Cards: Galekovic 37’, Jeronimo 55’, Carrusca 60’
Red Cards: Nil
Newcastle Jets line-up: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 3.Taylor REGAN, 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7.Andrew HOOLE (9.Emile HESKEY 67’), 8.Ruben ZADKOVICH (c), 10.Nathan BURNS (18.James BROWN 83’), 14.Josh MITCHELL, 15.Josh BRILLANTE, 16.Jacob PEPPER, 21.Sam GALLAWAY (11.Craig GOODWIN 83’), 22.Adam TAGGART
Substitutes not used: 6.Zenon CARAVELLA, 20.Ben KENNEDY (gk)
Yellow Cards: Regan 36’, Kantarovski 43’, Zadkovich 52’, Burns 68’
Red Cards: Nil