Carlton v Sharks

Round 18 report by Alan Clark
Carlton v Adelaide Sharks

Carlton can thank an unsighted assistant referee who failed to notice that the ball had gone over the goal-line for a Sharks' goal-kick, instead becoming a Carlton throw leading to Alex Moreira's 81st minute equaliser at 2-2 for the point earnt at Optus Oval against the unfortunate Sharks on Sunday.

The ball had gone well over the goal-line, but the assistant - facing into the sun on the far-side of the pitch - not only gave no flag, but seemed to indicate to referee Jeremy Blaney that the ball had remained in play. A subsequent clearance then came off a Carlton player before crossing the touch-line, but Marcus Stergiopoulos was awarded the throw.

The throw was played in to Simon Colosimo - who had come on for captain Andrew Marth in a surprise half-time change - before being played to Marco Bresciano. Bresciano then set up Moreira who blasted the ball past the hapless David Miller. Moreira's post-goal celebrations irked referee Blaney sufficiently for the Brazilian to earn a yellow card.

Carlton had been a well-beaten team at the half as Adelaide Sharks raced to a deserved two-goal lead. As early as the fifth minute, Sharks made their intentions known. Richie Alagich played a diagonal ball which cut out Sean Douglas and ran neatly for Corey Artone. Artone was pushed wide by the experienced Dean Anastasiadis returning to the Carlton line-up after several weeks absence.

But it was by probing this right wing channel that the Sharks were to make their most convincing attacking movements.

Just after the quarter-hour, Artone judged a similarly played ball better then Stergiopoulos, played an early ball to Derek Poimer who in turn laid it off to John Gibson. Gibson's shot was low and struck too hard for Anastasiadis.

Sharks went two up in the 35th minute. Artone was again to play a role of significance, this time making a storming run up the right before letting loose a shot which cannoned off the far post and rebounded for Poimer. Poimer's shot was headed for the inside of the post but Con Anthopoulos seemed to have it covered on the line, only to make a hash of the clearance, hitting the ball into the net rather than sending it clear.

Poimer could have extended the lead shortly after when he wriggled clear and faced only Anastasiadis, but this time it was Anastasiadis who won the duel.

Whatever Carlton coach Eddie Krncevic said to his charges at the break resulted in Carlton showing more vigour in the second half. Perhaps it was the introduction of Colosimo which helped alter the outcome, but whatever it was, Carlton's forwards and midfielders sloughed off their first-half lethargy, and started to move the Sharks' markers around the field.

Colosimo was integral in Carlton's first. Paul Souris had brought him down just outside the penalty area and wide on the right after Sharks' defenders dallied when in possession allowing Colossimo to intervene. Lubo Lapsansky's free-kick was perfectly flighted for Moreira's far-post header onto the underside of the bar and over the line.

Sharks' coach Adrian Santrac said after the game "It's a big lesson for us - we've got a long way to go. We had three clear chances to have cleared the ball before we gave away the free-kick."

Although Sharks still mounted attacks, they became fewer and less convincing. Two defenders were introduced to replace two attacking midfielders. Carlton revelled in the space that they were conceded.

Wave after wave of attack was launched, then repelled until what seemed the most innocuous attack of all which should have petered out with the award of a Sharks' goal-kick. The award was never made and the equaliser was a harsh blow as a result.

David Cervinski could in fact have brought all points home in stoppage time after Stergiopoulos' cross from the left fell for the pony-tailed defender making a foray forward, but Cervinski's attempt at the shot inside the six-yard box failed to connect with the ball with the defence beaten.

Carlton coach Krncevic said: "It was a good come-back. They showed a bit of character. But I'm not happy because it was good opportunity to take three points today."