Young Adelaide United FC defender Jordan Elsey’s injury time header has given the Reds a stunning upset 2-1 win over top of the table Brisbane roar at Suncorp Stadium.
Away from home, depleted by injury and suspension, and up against a team that led the league by seven points and had scored eight goals in their past two games, the Reds exemplified massive character to defy the odds as they snatched all three points to extend their unbeaten run to five matches and close in on the top six.
Elsey’s stoppage time winner also ended a four game losing streak to the Roar as well as continuing the Reds’ love affair with Suncorp Stadium, a venue it has now taken maximum points from six times and only lost twice at in 13 matches.
In what was just his third Hyundai A-League appearance, adding further to the amazing tale of Elsey’s heroics is that he had only just returned from Hong Kong after a proposed loan deal fell through at United Coach Josep Gombau’s former club Kitchee.
Despite being without a host of regulars and up against a near full strength Roar side, the Reds were not overawed as Michael Zullo, who played in a more advanced role on the left, curled a free kick towards the top corner, Michael Theo doing just enough to keep it out before Jon McKain’s follow up from the tightest of angles went narrowly wide in just the 4th minute.
Eugene Galekovic was perfectly positioned to deal with Thomas Broich’s 13th minute effort in the Roar’s first real chance and then it was the United keeper’s quick thinking and route one long ball that led to the Reds hitting the front.
Galekovic’s long kick deceived Shane Stefanutto on the bounce allowing Jeronimo to go one on one with Theo, the Argentine tripped by the Roar keeper and referee Alan Milliner pointed to the spot.
Fortunate to stay on the field after only receiving a yellow card, Theo then thought he had come up with the good as he saved Jeronimo’s attempted penalty only for the Reds poacher to knock the ball in on the follow up.
Broich went close to levelling things up in the 32nd minute, the Reds defence doing just enough to put him off balance.
Then in the 40th minute United found themselves with a numerical advantage as Diogo Ferreira received his second yellow card to leave the Roar with 10-men.
After the half time break Galekovic was called upon to keep out shots from Liam Miller and Dimitri Petratos before Jeronimo made way for new signing Ryan Griffiths to make his debut in a 30 minute cameo.
But while Griffiths would have been hoping to make his impact count on the scoreboard, it would be Roar marksman Besart Berisha that would again turn the game as he latched onto a fine through ball from Matt McKay to beat Galekovic with a well struck first time strike.
With the home crowd cheering them on, most would have thought it would be the Roar that would be the ones to score a late winner but Elsey had other ideas as he met a pinpoint Zullo cross, authoritatively rising above McKay and directing his header across Theo and into the back of the net.
Brisbane Roar 1 (Berisha 80’)
Adelaide United FC 2 (Jeronimo 21’, Elsey 90+1’)
Referee: Alan Milliner
Crowd: 17,593 @ Suncorp Stadium
Brisbane Roar starting line-up: 1.Michael THEO (gk), 2.Matthew SMITH (c), 3.Shane STEFANUTTO (19.Jack HINGERT 76’), 10.HENRIQUE (7.Besart BERISHA 56’), 11.Liam MILLER, 13.Jade NORTH, 14.Diogo FERREIRA, 17.Matt McKAY, 18.Luke BRATTAN, 22.Thomas BROICH, 23.Dimitri PETRATOS
Substitutes not used: 20.Matthew ACTON (gk), 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 34.Patrick THEODORE
Yellow Cards: Ferreira 11’/41’, North 15’, Theo 19’, Miller 83’
Red Cards: Ferreira 41’
Adelaide United starting line-up: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Jon McKAIN, 7.JERONIMO (31.Ryan GRIFFITHS 64’), 8.ISAIAS, 13.Steven LUSTICA, 14.Cameron WATSON (26.Anthony COSTA 74’), 16.Daniel BOWLES, 17.Awer MABIL (23.Jordan ELSEY 76’), 18.Michael ZULLO, 21.Tarek ELRICH
Substitutes not used: 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS
Yellow Cards: Boogaard 52’, Watson 62’, Elsey 82’
Red Cards: Nil