Magic from Barbiero and Pantelis, as always courtesy of JayFCAK47
The great thing about this game wasn't the scoreline, although getting the win and three points is vital now at the pointy end of the season. What really impressed me was the way United went about the win. Despite having only three days to recover from the disappointing loss against Melbourne, United came out with good intent. All night they looked comfortable on the ball, and were prepared to patiently knock it around in search for an opening.
And the opening came, soon enough - Fabian Barbiero received the ball outside the box and made a beautiful diagonal run towards the byline, deftly skipping past two defenders and then a third with an instinctive drop of the shoulder. From an impossible angle he let loose with his left foot, smashing the ball past Covic at his near post and into the back of the net. One of the goals of the season, for sure.
The icing on the cake came late in the second half, with Pantelis (a surprising starter for this game, given his lengthy injury layoff) running on to a diagonal ball from Barbiero and hitting a first time shot on his unfavoured right foot. In off the post - 2-0. Game over.
In this game I think Adelaide played their best football since the 1-0 loss to Gamba. Some might say that this was helped along by the fact that the Jest were a complete rabble, but then again, so were Sydney and United certainly didn't play convincingly against them at Adelaide Oval. There were some real positives to come out of this game - a good performance by Younis as the target man in a 4-5-1 formation, great running and movement from Reid, Barbiero and Pantelis in midfield, and most of all a willingness and ability to pass the ball around and properly construct attacking moves. On a more negative note, Cornthwaite was shaky at times in defence, and unfortunately Mullen came off at half time with a knee injury.
Mullen's injury, however, paved the way for a good 45-minute spell for retiring legend Michael Valkanis - this game was billed as his testimonial match, and he didn't disappoint, with a solid and assured display. We'll miss you Micky! After the game he did a lap of honour with his two kids, it was nice to be able to give him a good send-off. But with Mullen out he may yet see more game time this season.
One more thing that I should mention is the crowd. It was a very decent 13,500 (and in fact looked larger than that), and there was a great festive atmosphere throughout the match. This was helped by a big group of African guys standing in the north end and drumming all game - it was fantastic to hear a bit of rhythm at Hindmarsh (no offence, of course, to the usual north end drummers). Keep it up, lads!
So, bring on Wednesday and hopefully another big crowd at the Marsh - this game against Queensland will be enormous for both teams and the way the Clogs have been playing lately it should be very exciting.
Oh, I almost forgot - Gary Van Egmond gets the inaugural 'schmuck of the month' award, for putting on a young kid (Jesse Pinto) as a sub, then subbing him off again 15 minutes later for no apparent reason, then slagging off his performance. Great work, Dutchie, no wonder none of your players want to stay at the club. Worst. Title. Defence. Ever.