Season on edge after third-straight defeat
ADELAIDE United’s horror run is in danger of derailing its season as a third-straight loss left it staring up at the ALeague’s top six last night.
The patched-up Reds fell to a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle Jets at Hindmarsh Stadium last night after failing to convert a promising start into their first home league win of the campaign.
Nikola Mileusnic gave United a 24th-minute lead against the unbeaten visitors with a cool finish following his side’s high-tempo opening to the Remembrance Day contest. But Ben Kantarovski’s equaliser in the dying moments of the first half and Andrew Nabbout’s winner just after the break left Adelaide without an A-League victory in four games.
Worse still, both goals were self-inflicted as a lack of concentration at the back proved fatal. The clash loomed as a pivotal early season encounter for United after Central Coast Mariners’ upset triumph over Sydney FC the previous night had dropped it to seventh.
Coach Marco Kurz was still missing five first-team regulars but he had playmaker Karim Matmour and striker Baba Diawara on the bench.
It meant a first A-League start of the season for Ryan Kitto, who began impressively for the home side which employed an early high press, pinning the Jets back in their half. The speedy winger played in George Blackwood with a deft flick in the third minute, but the young striker’s close-range effort was well blocked by Jack Duncan.
The hosts, who started with eight SA-born players, were rewarded for their strong opening when Mileusnic broke the deadlock midway through the opening period.
Kitto picked up the ball inside his own half near the left touchline and played an inchperfect pass in behind the Jets’ back four. Mileusnic timed his run perfectly and held his nerve to steer the ball calmly past the advancing Duncan.
It was Adelaide’s first goal in nearly four hours of action, but it jolted Newcastle to life. Reds keeper Paul Izzo pulled off brilliant saves from Dimitri Petratos and Roy O’Donovan in quick succession to preserve his team’s lead.
The Jets’ pressure finally paid off right on half-time with a move straight off the training ground. Petratos played a quick one-two with O’Donovan from a corner before controlling and whipping in a deadly cross which Kantarovski headed home from 4m.
The second half was barely two minutes old when the Reds went behind. Centre back Ben Warland played a backpass towards Izzo, but failed to notice Nabbout lurking outside the penalty area.
The winger could not believe his luck as he cooly rounded the keeper and rolled the ball into an open net.
O’Donovan squandered a glorious opportunity to increase his side’s buffer moments later when he fired wide of an open goal.
United looked shell-shocked but it had a call for a penalty waved away when Blackwood went down under a challenge from Nigel Boogaard. Kurz threw on Diawara and Matmour for the last half-hour and the move almost paid dividends, the Algerian firing a shot just wide and the Senegalese hitman narrowly heading over in injury time.