Adelaide United continued its run of poor results going down to Queensland Roar 0-1 in a disappointing match at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Going into the game Adelaide had everything to play for. The match was an opportunity to cement its place in the top four and mount a push for second spot after Sydney was officially deducted 3 points today for breaching the A-league salary cap.
For Queensland it was a must win game to keep alive its hopes of making the top four - a loss would have ended their season.
The game kicked off in hot conditions of near 40c though the high temperature was somewhat tempered for the crowd by the cloud cover and sea breeze.
Adelaide dominated possession in the opening minutes of the match with striker Fernando forcing a good save from Roar goalkeeper Liam Reddy in the 4th minute and again in the 8th minute. But after a bright start Adelaide began to wilt in the heat.
Goalkeeper Daniel Beltrame was called into action to keep Adelaide in the game in the 9th minute. Roar worked the ball through the Adelaide defence setting Dario Vidosic on the way to goal. Beltrame came off his line quickly and denied Vidosic with a great save from point blank range.
It was with some relief for both the players and the fans when referee Matthew Breeze called for a very sensible drinks break at the 20 minute mark. The players had the opportunity to take in some much needed refreshments while the fans were given a break from the rapidly deteriorating standard of football.
It took until the 34th minute for some excitement for the Adelaide fans when Jason Spagnuolo streaked down the line before crossing the ball the back post. Young Nathan Burns did well to reach the ball at a stretch and turn it goal wards from an acute angle. Reddy was able to deflect the shot away from his goal and Roar scrambled the ball to safety. A minute later a Spagnuolo free kick flash across the Roar penalty area just evading Fernando, Valkanis and Veart.
Next it was Queensland's turn to attack. Matt McKay split the Adelaide defence with a ball knocked into the path of Damien Mori. Striker Mori used his pace to reach the ball first but goalkeeper Beltrame was quickly off his line and pushed Mori's effort out for a corner from point blank range.
Queensland took the corner and Adelaide struggled to clear the ball. Brazilian Reinaldo somehow managed to strike the ball goalwards while he was lying on the ground forcing another great reflex save from Beltrame.
In the 43rd minute Nathan Burns almost scored a spectacular individual goal for Adelaide. He was picked out on the edge of the Queensland penalty area. He propped, turned on the ball, cut inside and beat three players before striking the ball high over the bar. Burns did all the hard work but lost his composure with the goals beckoning.
Two minutes later Carl Veart hit a speculative drive from distance. The ball flew just over the cross bar much to the relief of Roar goalkeeper Reddy who was well beaten.
Matthew Breeze blew the whistle to bring an end to a scoreless first half. The temperature was clearly a factor in both teams producing the most disappointing 45 minutes of football at Hindmarsh this season.
Within a minute of the restart Nathan Burns squandered the best opportunity of the game. He picked up the ball in his own half and kept pushing goal wards. He went straight through the middle of the Queensland defence reaching the penalty spot. With the goals at his mercy and only Reddy to beat, Burns scrubbed his shot well wide of the upright. Once again Burns had done all the hard work but was let down by a lack of composure in front of goals.
In the 50th minute Matthew Kemp pushed down the line for Adelaide. He cut inside and squared the ball to Spagnuolo. But Spagnuolo started making a goal wards run leaving the ball behind him and turning it over to Queensland. The Roar counterattacked into the empty space behind the Adelaide midfield. Queensland held the ball up on the corner of the box and the opportunity seemed to be lost with Kemp, Aloisi and to a lesser extent Spagnuolo getting behind the ball. But John Kosmina's nemesis Damien Mori had other thoughts. He cut across the top of the penalty area before unleashing a left foot drive goal wards. Adelaide goalkeeper Beltrame appeared to get a fingertip to the ball as it slammed into the cross bar. The ball bounced out and Reinaldo was first to the ball to head it home past the outstretched had of Beltrame. 1-0 to Queensland.
Adelaide responded to the goal by taking the game to Queensland. Good work by Spagnuolo and Kemp on several occasions went unrewarded as the Queensland defenders held firm and the final effort on goal eluded Adelaide.
In the 58th minute Damien Mori almost made it 2-0 for Queensland. Reinaldo hit a deep ball to Mori who pushed on into the Adelaide penalty area. He cut back inside and hit his shot goal wards to once again be denied by the fingertips of Beltrame and the chest of Valkanis on the goal line.
The heat seemed to affecting more than just the players when Adelaide coach John Kosmina made an unexpected substitution in the 64th minute. Adelaide were down by one goal in this crucial game and Kosmina had attacking players on his bench in the form of the very experienced ex Celtic star Bobby Petta and the powerful young striker Bruce Djite. But Kosmina opted to bring on defender VanDommelle who has not played any football for several months. To add to the surprise, Kosmina opted to take off his most attacking defender in Matthew Kemp who had been troubling Roar down the left flank. John Kosmina was probably the only person at Hindmarsh Stadium that understood the reasoning behind this substitution.
After the substitution Adelaide seemed to lose its way until Kosmina finally made an attacking substitution in the 75th minute. Kosmina opted for the less obvious substitution bringing on the talented but very inexperienced Djite instead of the experienced Petta. Adelaide captain Ross Aloisi made way for Djite and was cheered off the field by the Adelaide crowd.
Djite showed signs of promise up front for Adelaide getting away from his defender on several occasions.
Petta finally entered the game in the 81st minute at the expense of defender Richie Alagich.
Adelaide continued its push for an equaliser in the final ten minutes of the match but Queenland Roar held on to keep their season alive. Final score 0-1 to Queensland.
Adelaide has squandered the opportunity to put space between itself and the other teams competing for the remaining spots in the A-League top four. It has won only one of its last seven matches. This form must be concerning coach John Kosmina. Adelaide has two tough games remaining against Sydney and Central Coast and is now at risk of dropping out of the top four.
Queensland Roar coach Frank Farina will be pleased with the very important three points. But Farina should not smile too widely because Queensland were hardly convincing and stumbled along for much of the game. On the park the quality of their football appears to have gone backwards since Farina replaced Blieberg. Roar will need to lift their performance if they are to beat either Melbourne or Sydney in the final two matches.
Best for Adelaide was goalkeeper Daniel Beltrame. He made several critical saves that kept Adelaide's hopes alive. Angelo Costanzo was solid at the back. Matthew Kemp started slowly but increasingly came into the game until surprisingly substituted by coach Kosmina.
Andrew Packer was the pick of the Queensland players working hard at the back while Reinaldo and Vidosic did likewise up front.