No glory for Reds in opener
A 76th minute header from Perth Glory striker Billy Mehmet has condemned Adelaide United FC to a 1-0 defeat at nib Stadium in the Reds’ opening match of the Hyundai A-League 2011/12 Season.
In a match that saw the Reds starting eleven comprising of seven new faces from the one that ran out in the club’s final game of last season, Mehmet’s second half goal ended United’s stubborn resistance as the Glory enjoyed the more chances, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.
The new look Reds appeared to take time to adjust as Perth turned up the heat early, the Glory’s Brazilian signing Andrezinho proving a constant danger down the left hand side.
Fortunate to still be level at half time, the break gave the Reds and Head Coach Rini Coolen a chance to regroup, and in the second half United were not without their opportunities, however they could not break through.
Coolen was left to reflect on a game that Perth dominated early on, and admits the outcome was accurate based on the teams’ respective performances. The Dutchman also acknowledged the efforts of goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic, who reeled off a host of fine saves to ensure the margin was not greater.
“I think the first minute was ok, the organisation was good, but during the first half we lost control in the midfield and they created some chances, so we were lucky it was still nil-all at half time,” Coolen said.
“We changed the game plan and our formation a little bit and the game changed in the second half. We had more control of the game, and although we didn’t create many chances I thought we were getting better and better.”
“But if you see the whole game I think it was a deserved win for Perth. In the last 15 minutes we gave a lot of space away and they could have scored another goal, so it was good for us that Galekovic was in good form. So in the end the second half was much better but not good enough.”
Travis Dodd almost had the dream start against his former club but he and fellow new Perth signing Shane Smeltz missed guilt edged chances in the opening 10 minutes as the Reds could have easily found themselves two goals down.
Andrezinho was causing all sorts of problems for Daniel Mullen as he created a chance for Liam Miller to curl a free kick inches wide of Galekovic’s far post, the Reds just managing to hold on.
Mullen was forced from the field in the 25th minute with a hamstring injury and replaced by Cameron Watson as the Reds attempted to stem Perth’s dominance.
At the other end, United’s chances were few and far between as the Reds spent the majority of the first half on the back foot trying to contain the Glory’s array of attacking options.
United’s Dutch winger Andy Slory, who looked the most dangerous for the Reds in the first half, tried to electrify Adelaide a minute after the restart but he sprayed his shot wide.
Galekovic produced a fine save to deny Smeltz in the 54th minute as the Reds dodged another bullet, before Bruce Djite and Sergio van Dijk started to become more prominent, the former having a shot blocked a metre from the goal line on the hour mark before van Dijk watched a free kick whistle wide of the mark.
Claims by the Glory for handball on McKain in the 72nd minute were waved away by the referee, but five minutes later the Reds’ luck and resistance ran out as Mehmet nodded home substitute Tommy Amphelett’s cross at the near post.
With the Reds chasing an equaliser, it created gaps in their defence and Smeltz missed a chance to put the result beyond doubt when he could not find the target with his low shot, Galekovic then saving United again as he got enough of a hand to turn Mehmet’s shot wide of the post.
Coolen’s men must now turn their focus to the visit of Melbourne Victory and Harry Kewell to Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night (14 October 2011) for the Reds’ opening home game of the season.
Perth Glory 1 (Mehmet 76’)
Adelaide United FC 0
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Crowd: 9,452 @ nib Stadium
Adelaide United line-up: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (Gk), 4.Jon McKAIN (c), 5.Daniel MULLEN (14.Cameron WATSON 25’), 6.CASSIO, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8.Evgeniy LEVCHENKO, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 11.Bruce DJITE, 16.Spase DILEVSKI (17.Iain RAMSAY 80’), 22.Milan SUSAK (21.Francisco USUCAR 81’), 23.Andy SLORY
Substitutes not used: 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk)
Yellow Cards: Levchenko 37’
Red Cards: Nil
Perth Glory line-up: 1.Danny VUKOVIC, 2.Josh MITCHELL, 3.Bas Van Den BRINK, 4.Billy MEHMET, 7.Jacob BURNS (c), 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Liam MILLER, 12.Scott NEVILLE (6.Chris COYNE 82’), 13.Travis DODD (14.Steven McGARRY 65’), 17.Todd HOWARTH, 27.ANDREZINHO (15.Tommy AMPHLETT 68’)
Substitutes not used: 20.Neil YOUNG (gk)
Yellow Cards: Burns 49’, Mehmet 58’, Vukovic 86’
Red Cards: Nil