United v Jets

Cup report by Lino Fusco
Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets

Adelaide United and the Newcastle Jets ground out another draw to both remain undefeated and also winless in the A-League Pre-Season Cup.

A respectable crowd of over 6500 turned out at Hindmarsh Stadium to witness another workmanlike performance by Adelaide United.

There was little action of interest in the scoreless first 45 minutes. The best opportunity of the half fell to Aurelio Vidmar but he blazed his effort out of the stadium from inside the penalty area and on an acute angle. At best it could be described as a half chance. The highlight of the half was the performance of ex Socceroo Ned Zelic. Zelic may need to shed some pounds before he reaches peak fitness but he repeatedly showed his class with simple but effective passing. He did not miss a single pass in the first half.

Zelic did eventually blemish his perfect record when he a long ball from the 2nd half kickoff that was intercepted by an Adelaide United defender.

Early in the 2nd half Adelaide's Aurelio Vidmar and Newcastle's Allan Picken clashed behind play. After some initial niggling between the two players Picken lashed out with his elbow and Vidmar slumped to the ground. A melee developed amongst the players adding some excitement to the game. Picken was fortunate to escape the incident with only a yellow card.

The Jets hit the back of the net in the 62nd minute. Nick Carle found Labinot Haliti just inside the box. Haliti slipped past the flat footed van Dommele with ease before laying off the ball to Thompson. From close range Thompson made no mistake. However van Dommele was saved from acute embarrassment when referee Przydacz ruled the goal offside.

Adelaide United started to make the Jets look uncomfortable with crosses from out wide. Liam Reddy in goals and Craig Deans in the centre of the defense had a few shaky moments that could have easily turned into disaster for the Jets.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 74th minute. Second half substitute and marquee player Shengqing Qu crossed the ball into the box. The Jets failed to clear the cross and the ball bounced off Valkanis's body and over the line for his second fortunate goal in two weeks.

The Jets immediately lifted their tempo and went in search of an equaliser. In the 78th minute the Jets surged forward through Nick Carle. He cheekily back healed the ball to Bates who then slipped a pass to Richard Johnson. Johnson found himself in space and let loose with a sensational 20m pile driver that hit the back of the net before Adelaide goalkeeper Beltrame had time to move.

In the closing minutes Adelaide United should have taken the three points through substitute Bugeja. Adelaide fullback Alagich crossed a perfect ball to the far post to the unmarked Bugeja. The striker mishit his header into the ground from only two metres out giving Reddy enough time to spectacularly tip the ball over the bar. Bugeja almost made amends a minute later when he attempted a spectacular overhead kick from the penalty spot but his effort went wide.

The game ended with the score locked at 1-1.

Adelaide United's performance tonight will continue to fuel the doubts being expressed by local football fans over the strength of its squad and its style of game. While there is still some time before the start of the A-League season it is reasonable to concede that the majority of Adelaide fans do not have high expectations for season 2005.

Several United players were non existent for the 90 minutes. Midfield dynamos Ross Aloisi and Matthew Kemp will not need to re-polish their boots for United's next game after struggling to get a touch.

The Newcastle Jets have several quality players in Zelic, Johnson and Carle but seem to be lacking some depth. At times they impressively played the ball around the park with style and precision but these moments were all too infrequent.

Best for Adelaide was Costanzo in the first half and Carl Veart in the second half with Valkanis the most consistent over the full 90 minutes.

Best for Newcastle and best on field was Zelic who did not make an error in 90 minutes. Nick Carle spurted in and out of the game with moments of brilliance and was supported by the very capable Thompson and Johnson.