Adelaide United’s season has come to an end, with a 1-0 defeat to the Central Coast Mariners in their Elimination Final at Gosford on Saturday ensuring there will be no next week for the Reds.
As has been the case for much of the season, United dominated possession for the majority of the game, their quick movement and passing causing trouble for a well-stacked Mariners defence.
The Reds couldn’t apply the finishing touch, however, and it was a goal from Central Coast’s Bernie Ibini on the counter-attack that would seal the win after more than an hour of play.
A ball from Anthony Caceres found Michael Duke, who in turn found Ibini inside the box where the striker emphatically sent it into the bottom corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
United became more desperate after that and nearly equalised in the dying minutes from substitute Bruce Djite, but it wasn’t to be.
It was a case of missed chances for an Adelaide unit that had built their reputation this season on their penchant for free-flowing play.
Fabio Ferreira and Jeronimo Neumann were at their best, posing a constant threat from either flank.
Michael Zullo and Osama Malik were also prominent all evening, while Marcelo Carrusco got better as the game wore on.
It was apparent from the start that the Mariners were content to let United have control of the midfield while sitting back themselves and repelling from their final third.
The Central Coast defence, at times five men strong, were resolute, frustrating the Reds continuing sorties forward.
As promising as the Reds build up from midfield continued to be, it resulted in little actual work for Central Coast ‘keeper Liam Reddy.
United can hold their heads high after a season in which they have built up a style of play that has won them many fans in the A-League.
And, after signing a recent contract extension, Coach Josep Gombau can now go away and analyse his teams’ performance and build towards a 2014/15 season that promises plenty for the vastly improved Reds.
Gombau has plenty to work with and the players, support staff and fans have clearly bought into his philosophy.
The stability and strength of purpose that is now within the club is there for all to see and is exciting for the fans.
Well done boys, let’s get ‘em back next year!
What did you think of the Reds performance against the Mariners? How would you rate their season?