Adelaide United boss Carl Veart was left satisfied his Reds got ‘all we needed’ to seal a top-six A-League berth despite the temptation of going for broke and a potential home Elimination Final.
Despite playing with ten men for nearly an hour in the 2-2 draw, Western Sydney Wanderers almost grabbed a late winner when Jordon Mutch pounced on James Delianov’s stray pass but the Adelaide goalkeeper made a last-ditch block to secure the Reds’ Finals Series spot.
After own goals from Ziggy Gordon and Ryan Strain cancelled each other out, Graham Dorrans’ rocket strike had given Wanderers a 2-1 lead before Tass Mourdoukoutas was sent off in the 36th minute and Craig Goodwin’s 56th minute equaliser levelled the scores at Coopers Stadium.
The South Australians had chances to grab a winner that would have propelled them into third place on the ladder, and possibly booked a return to Hindmarsh in the Elimination Finals, but Veart suggested his players should have focused on locking down the draw in the closing stages.
“We wanted to win tonight, that was the messaging all week, it was: get the three points, get the three points, but the way the game went – in the last five, 10 minutes – it was like, we’ll take the point because that was all we needed,” said Veart.
“But the boys were still pushing. They’ve got a great mentality to win, but at times we just have to have a little bit more football intelligence and recognise the moments in games – when to go and when to sit.”
Adelaide’s route to add a second A-League Championship to their 2016 triumph is now likely to mean claiming three straight away wins. The Reds have only earned one point from five road matches against other Finals Series teams this campaign – a record that Veart’s side will need to change quickly for their post-season journey to continue.
He added: “It would have been fantastic for our supporters and our sponsors if we had managed to get a home final but at the end of the day, going back to my playing days at Adelaide City, we were always good in finals away from home.
“At the end of the day, we have to go and win. It doesn’t matter if it’s home or away, we have to win, if you want to win the Championship.
“So that’s what we’ll have to do. We’ll recover from this game and then watch the games from over the weekend and then see who we are going to play and work towards that, and getting a good result.”
Wanderers coach Carl Robinson revealed he had no intention of changing his attacking game plan after Mourdoukoutas’ red card and he was impressed that his side almost came away with all three points.
“We didn’t change our shape. We went from a back five to a back four because we were down to 10 men, we kept our midfield three and our front two,” Robinson explained.
“And it worked because we did have gilt-edged chances. Tommy [Aquilina] hit the bar on a breakaway, a transition, which you’ll get when you play against 11 because the 11 feel more pressure to try and win the game rather than the 10.
“Scotty [McDonald] had a good chance and [Jordon] Mutchy had a golden chance which probably sums up our season.
“We defended really well, gave away two bad goals, scored two goals and had great chances to win – but unfortunately it was not going to be our night.”
Next fixture – Matchweek 24
Macarthur FC v Wellington Phoenix
Friday, 4th June 2021
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST