James Troisi’s late solo effort snatched Adelaide United a 2-1 victory as Newcastle Jets were left to rue missed chances.
As hot, dry conditions in South Australia sapped the energy of both sides, Troisi took matters into his own hands on 83 minutes, charging through the Jets defence and netting his first goal for his hometown club.
George Blackwood, who was called on to replace the injured Riley McGree, put the Reds ahead against the run of play on 30 minutes after some inspired wing play from Al Hassan Toure left the 22-year-old with an easy finish.
Moments earlier, the Jets had been astonishingly denied three times in quick succession by the crossbar, a Michael Maria block and Paul Izzo’s superb save as Ernie Merrick’s men carved open the Reds in the first-half.
Despite their dominance, Newcastle could not find the breakthrough until Matt Millar climbed highest to power the visitors to level terms in the 48th minute, while Izzo kept Adelaide in the contest with a series of impressive saves.
With four drinks breaks held throughout the evening, the tempo slowed in the closing stages but that did not deter experienced playmaker Troisi, who opened his Adelaide account to keep Gertjan Verbeek’s side in third place, while Newcastle remain eighth.
Newcastle travelled to Coopers Stadium having only won one of their last eight games in the City of Churches, but Merrick’s men threatened early in stifling conditions when Ben Kantarovski’s header was pushed around the post by a diving Izzo.
The Jets kept the pressure on when Nick Fitzgerland’s shot was diverted wide off the post and Steven Ugarkovic slammed a shot against the bar, which somehow stayed out of the Adelaide net after a goal-mouth scramble which saw Izzo deny Angus Thurgate with his feet from six yards out.
The visitors paid the price almost immediately when Troisi picked out Toure and the 19-year-old used his quick feet to beat Johnny Koutroumbis and put the ball on a plate for Blackwood to add a simple tap in at the far post.
The ever-dangerous Dimi Petratos came close before half-time, and Newcastle almost fell further behind after the restart when Toure showcased his skills again but Troisi’s effort cannoned off Blackwood and on to the post.
The equaliser finally arrived a minute later, when Millar ran free as a static Reds defence watched the right-back head in Petratos’ corner to grab his second of the season. Izzo could do little about the goal, but the 24-year-old sprang back into action to keep out efforts from Millar, Thurgate and Fitzgerald as the Jets landed their 25th shot on goal before the hour mark.
Merrick's side would only land another five efforts in the last half hour as the temperature, in the mid 30s, took it's toll. That did not stop Troisi grabbing his opportunity with a twisting run through the Jets backline, before side-footing the ball under Glen Moss to clinch the victory.
Fitzgerald hits the woodwork
Nick Fitzgerald came close to opening the scoring when he linked up with Matt Millar on the right side of the Jets’ attack.
Millar found Fitzgerald with a neat lofted pass into the box which the Jets striker took down with one touch which dropped perfectly over his right peg.
From there Fitzgerald fired a pinpoint strike which had Paul Izzo beaten but couldn’t wriggle its way into the net, instead cannoning off the right post and out for a goal kick.
Jets waste triple chance in goalmouth frenzy
Ernie Merrick was left scratching his head in disbelief as his side failed to capitalise on three chances to score in quick succession.
The play began when Steven Ugarkovic hammered a shot from a tight angle off the crossbar which just evaded the waiting Angus Thurgate on the goal line.
Hoffman’s shot off the rebound bounced off Ryan Strain and into the path of Dimitri Petratos, whose shot on goal deflected back to Thurgate on his own inside the six yard box.
With the goal at his mercy, Thurgate struck a low shot from point-blank range but Izzo scampered across to push the ball to safety, and somehow the Jets came away from the attack without a goal to their name.
Blackwood taps in from Toure's superb assist
Moments after the goal-mouth scramble, Adelaide show the Jets how to finish.
George Blackwood added the simplest of finishes to score his 10th goal for the Reds, but this goal was all about the set up.
Teen sensation Al Hassan Toure, fresh off signing a contract extension on Friday, left Jets full-back Johnny Koutroumbis in his wake and drilled an inviting ball into the danger zone.
After their bye week in Round 10, Adelaide United travel to face Central Coast Mariners on Sunday, 22 December. The Round 11 contest kicks off at 6pm AEDT at Central Coast Stadium.
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