A second half flurry has given Adelaide United a stunning come from behind 4-2 win over the Central Coast Mariners in their Foxtel National Youth League encounter at Thebarton Oval.
The start of the match produced frenetic end-to-end football and a physical encounter. The Reds were able to settle into the match better with an early counter attack resulting in a free kick being awarded just outside the 18 yard box, Cameron Watson’s dead ball effort denied by the upright.
With the Reds defence holding firm, things were looking positive until the 11th minute when a penalty with a touch of luck was awarded against Watson, the Mariners’ senior statesman Adam Kwasnik stepping up to put the ball into the back of the net to give the visitors an early advantage.
With their backs to the wall the home side tried gallantly to fight their way back as Jack Bladen and Jacob Melling narrowly missed opportunities.
The Mariners then found themselves a man down in the 26th minute when a scrappy challenge by Brent Griffiths saw him sent off after denying a promising shot on goal.
Melling produced a powerful shot on goal but was denied by a fine save by Mariners keepe Justin Pasfield. With the Mariners down to ten men the United players seemed to struggle to hold onto the ball but did manage to create some good shots on goal with Awer Mabil and Ryan Kitto having the best chances.
Just before half time the Reds were made to rue their missed scoring opportunities when a great passage of play by the Mariners was rewarded as Nick Fitzgerald found the back of the net to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead at the break.
A raft of changes at half time with Anthony Costa, Nathan Konstandopouls and Daniel Bowles being injected into the game made the Reds look like a different team from the restart and they came out firing.
Determined to make amends for their uncharacteristic first half display, Nikola Mileusnic made it 2-1 in the 58th minute with a powerful shot from close range. Six minutes later the equalizer came when a great solo run by Mabil resulted in a shot that was parried by Pasfield, deflecting to Costa who managed to find the back of net through heavy traffic.
With the Reds taking control of the match and now with all the momentum, Jack Bladen found his way though the Mariners defence, his initial strike blocked by Pasfield but he would make no mistake on his second attempt and suddenly it was 3-2.
With frustration starting to creep in and the pressure starting to build on the Central Coast, a second Mariner was given his marching orders, this time for dissent.
Enjoying a two-player advantage, the Reds sealed all three points in the 83rd minute when Nathan Konstondopoulos found his way in behind the Mariners defence and produced a calm finish.
Coach Michael Valkanis was delighted with the result.
“For me in the first half we were able to keep possession but lost our structure and were not able to take advantage after they went a man down,” Valkanis said.
“I was very impressed with the second half and with how we got back to playing the style, got our structure back and got into a lot of wide areas and scored a lot of goals.”
“There were a lot of good players but I thought Dion Kirk, Anthony Costa, Nikola Mileusnic and Nathan Konstandopoulos all had a big impact on the result.”
Adelaide United 4 (Mileusnic 59’, Costa 65’, Bladen 70’, Konstandopoulos 83’)
Central Coast Mariners 2 (Kwasnik 11’ (pen), Fitzgerald 44’)
Referee: Christian Verdicchio
Adelaide United starting line-up: 1.John Hall (gk), 2.Dion Kirk (c), 4.Lachlan Barr (22.Daniel Bowles 46’), 6.Jack Bladen, 10.Ryan Kitto (9.Anthony Costa 46’), 11.Nikola Milesunic, 13.Jordan Elsey, 14.Awer Mabil, 15.Matthew Bouzalas (8.Nathan Konstandopoulos 46’), 16.Jacob Melling, 19.Cameron Watson
Injury substitution: Nil
Substitutions not used: Paul Izzo (gk)
Yellow cards: Elsey 22’, Barr 30’
Red cards: Nil
Central Coast starting line-up: 1.Justin Pasfield (gk), 6.Brent Griffiths (c), 7.Dillon Vorster (14.Steve Whyte 60’), 8.Nathan Verity, 9.Adam Kwasnik, 10.Dominic Ferguson, 11.Nick Fitzgerald, 13.Hayden Morton (2.Jacob Esposito 57’), 16.Jesse Curran, 18.Michael Neill, 20.Patrick Dixon (5.Liam Odell 31’)
Injury Substitution: 9.Adam Kwasnik (20.Patrick Dixon 75’)
Substitutions not used: 12.David Bradasevic (gk)
Yellow cards: Morton 5’, Neill 25’/75’, Esposito 61’
Red cards: Griffiths 28’, Neill 75’