Friday, December 12, 2008
Adelaide 2-1 Waitakere
Waitakare United, a bunch of part-timers from West Auckland, weren't given a chance against Adelaide prior to their opening Club World Cup match in Tokyo. Not surprisingly. They were put to the sword 7-0 by Wellington Phoenix, the team that Adelaide humiliated 6-1 last Friday.
As soon as the match kicked off,though, you could tell it was going to be a strange night for Adelaide. The boys in red looked nervy, and when they weren't looking nervy they were just trudging around the pitch with blank expressions on their face. Waitakare, as could probably be expected, parked their whole team in their defensive half, aiming to smother Adelaide and catch them on the break.
Given the unavailability of Cassio, Diego and Ognenovski, Vidmar had toyed a bit with the starting formation. Rather than the 4-3-3 that worked so well against Phoenix, with Cassio and Dodd acting as wide forwards, it was back to the usual conservative 4-2-3-1, with our very own Dead Ball Specialist TM Kristian Sarkies slotting into the midfield in front of Reid and Barbiero, and Spagnuolo taking Cassio's usual spot on the left wing.
It could have worked if the midfield were a bit more willing to show some endeavour and creativity and work to break down the defense, but no - Adelaide ended up just knocking the ball around a lot, owning possession, then getting impatient and lumping it up to an extremely isolated Cristiano. Or streaming down the wings to put a cross into the box. Both options were dealt with, in general, pretty well by the Waitakere backline, featuring 37 year old ex- NZ Knight, Neil Emblen.
We dominated the match, definitely - the corner count at the end was 19-1, and we had plenty of balls into the box. But, still, the Kiwis scored first, with Paul Seaman knocking it in after Galekovic failed to gather a high ball. Rubbish shit fuck shit. Pretty much straight afterwards Mullen equalised with a nice header off a corner, and Trav got the winner with about 10 minutes to go with a glancing header off a Reid free kick. In Dodd We Trust.
This game, on paper, should have been much easier than this. Complete tripe, really, against a bunch of semi-pros. Waitakere actually had some handy young players - Roy Krishna and Dane Vincent in particular - and an equaliser was definitely not outside the realm of possibility.
Adelaide hung on, but just about every player on the pitch (with the notable exceptions of Jamieson and Mullen) were below average. And I never want to see the Dead Ball Specialist TM in a red shirt ever again. It was ACL away-leg-final-esque, except Waitakere just didn't have the ability and experience to punish us like Gamba did.
Hopefully this game provides enough of a kick in the arse for Adelaide to play well in the next match (Gamba Osaka again, of course) and set up a date with Man U. If we get turned over by those Osaka bastards again, I will weep.