Adelaide United returned to Hindmarsh Stadium for its second home game of the season and once again Hindmarsh was jammed packed with an official attendance of 14,413 fans. Due to a lack of seats I joined the several thousand fans standing in the walkways around the supposedly all seated stadium.
The scene was set for another exciting afternoon of soccer though Sydney United had other plans. Faced with the prospect of playing away from home in front of a hostile crowd Sydney United had not come to Adelaide to play attacking or exciting football.
Adelaide United started the game very strongly against a defensive Sydney United. Goran Lozanovski and Matthew Kemp brought roars from the crowd within minutes of the start as they ripped through the right hand side of the Sydney defence in several waves. Veart almost put Adelaide ahead in the third minute when his header from a Lozanovski corner was cleared off the goal line.
Adelaide continued to push forward in the opening ten minutes while Sydney continually gave the ball away with very sloppy passing. But Sydney almost took the lead in the 12th minute against the run of play when Sydney defender Labinot Haliti ended a 50m run with a cheeky chip that almost embarrassed Adelaide's Scarsella in goals.
Lozanovski switched back to the right hand side and was combining well with Alagich. Left full back for Sydney, Haliti, was finding it tough to combat the skill and strength of Lozanovski coupled with the pace of Alagich. While Adelaide dominated the midfield and was frequently pushing down the flanks, goal scoring opportunities were non-existent as Sydney defended well. Mark Rudan was playing particularly well in the sweeper role for Sydney.
In the 20th minute Veart un-knowingly had an unusual chance to put Adelaide in front. Sydney keeper Reddy slipped and fell as striker Veart was running towards the Sydney goal. Veart was just inside the penalty box but, luckily for Reddy, Veart had just put his head down and did not see the opportunity.
As the game wore on Sydney slowly played its way back into the game. Sydney were almost rewarded just before half time with several strikes on goal that tested Scarsella in goals.
There was little change in the second half as Sydney continued to play with only one true striker and 10 players behind the ball. Adelaide appeared to have no answer to the flooding tactics of Sydney and every Adelaide move was breaking down without creating any real opportunities for the strikers.
The best opportunity of the game fell to Veart in the 57th minute. Sydney keeper Reddy miscued a clearance to Veart who drove the ball from 20m past the stranded Reddy and only inches wide of the goal post.
Adelaide's chance of grabbing the three points dissipated when a tired Veart was substituted in the 82nd minute. His strike partner Demourtzidis had worked hard but had not looked dangerous all game against the very strong Sydney defence. Veart was replaced by the promising but in-effective Saric.
In the 83nd minute Sydney's second half substitute Santalab was played through a stranded Adelaide defence. With only the goalkeeper to beat Santalab wasted the golden opportunity to claim all three points for Sydney with a poor shot that went wide.
In the end it was a disappointing game in front of a packed Hindmarsh Stadium. Adelaide will be a little disappointed with their performance and they will need to show more if they are to keep the crowds coming back. Their cause was not helped by a very dour and un-inspiring Sydney who did their best to shut down the game. Still Adelaide can take some heart from the fact that they remain unbeaten after three games.
Lozanovski tried everything to break down the Sydney defence and was the best for Adelaide. Alagich had another fine game, his brilliant nutmeg of Sydney's Haliti was one of the highlights, and Kemp worked tirelessly on the left hand side of midfield.
Best for Sydney was Mark Rudan who was faultless in the sweeper position. The young Anthony Doumanis zipped around the ground and always looked dangerous while Haliti defended well despite coming under a lot of pressure early in the game.