Adelaide United have drawn 0-0 away to the Western Sydney Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night, in a game that rarely reached any heights.
While the Reds did need the win to keep their chances of a high-placed finish alive at seasons-end, they will be happy they were able to walk away with a point in what was the first ever nil-all result between the two sides.
With the start delayed by half an hour due to thunderstorms, the players faced a slippery surface for most of the match, a contributing factor in either side’s inability to complete that final touch that would mean scoring.
United did have the better of the play in the first half but were unable to capitalise against a side missing marquee-man Shinji Ono and Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic.
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic had decided to rest the pair for the upcoming mid-week Asian Champions League match against Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale.
There was some controversy for the Reds with Fabio Ferreira felled off the ball by Adam D'Apuzzo in the first half and forced off with concussion, the incident drawing the ire of Adelaide supporters, but no recriminations from the referee.
United had their best chance just after the main break with Ferreira’s replacement, the red-hot Jeronimo Neumann, getting on the end of a great cross from Marcelo Carrusco but failing to put it away.
It would have been Neumann’s fifth goal in six A-League appearances had he scored.
From that point the Wanderers took control, upping the ante and building up their play, culminating in a flurry of shots in the dying minutes that the Reds did well to keep out.
The result meant it was the first time in 12 matches that Adelaide had failed to score, a statistic that coach Josep Gombau will be hoping is an aberration in his side’s push to make the finals.
The top half of the ladder continues to be congested, with every game now crucial to the Reds chances of playing deep into the play-offs, and every result involving clubs around them mattering.
They now sit in sixth position with 31 points, just five behind second-placed Melbourne Victory on 36.
That means next Friday’s match against Sydney, currently one place and one point above United in fifth, takes on extra significance.
The build-up during the week will be intense.
What’s your read on the result? What do the Reds need to do next week to get over Sydney?