Craig Goodwin proved the difference on his return to the City of Churches as Adelaide United sealed a 2-1 win against the Newcastle Jets.
The Socceroos attacker showed his class by netting the 77th-minute winner at Coopers Stadium, his second goal in two games since arriving back in his native South Australia on loan from Saudi Professional League club Al-Wehda in February.
Goodwin has picked up where he left off down under after scoring 10 goals in 29 games during his last season with the Reds in 2018/19, and his decisive contribution was in stark contrast to the pair of mistakes made by Steven Ugarkovic that costs Craig Deans' Jets dearly.
The often-reliable midfielder's miscued clearance landed straight at the feet of Louis D'Arrigo in the fifth minute and the 19-year-old midfielder confidently slammed the home side in front with his first goal in 33 club appearances.
Ugarkovic almost quickly made amends, cracking a long-range effort off the crossbar, before Connor O'Toole levelled the scores on 22 minutes, powering his maiden competition strike through the hands of Reds gloveman James Delianov on the Jets wing-back's 51st senior match.
Ben Halloran, ex-Red Apostolos Stamatopoulos and Goodwin all shook the frame of the goal while searching for a decider, but the latter eventually made his moment count after robbing a dawdling Ugarkovic and firing Carl Veart's team up to third place in the A-League ladder.
Carl Veart's Reds started quickly with Ben Halloran sneaking behind the Newcastle backline in the third minute before being sent tumbling by Johnny Koutroumbis. The Jets survived that scare but, two minutes later, Steven Ugarkovic's miskicked clearance could only find the awaiting Louis D'Arrigo and the teenage midfielder lashed in his maiden A-League goal.
Craig Deans' side had been camped deep inside their own territory for the opening quarter of an hour but, desperate to atone for the error that allowed D'Arrigo a clear sight of the visitor's net, Ugarkovic steamed forward and unleashed a dipping, 35-yard rocket that had goalkeeper James Delianov beat but cannoned back off the hosts' crossbar.
That speculative effort seemed the spark the away side into life and, after a swift exchange of passes with Angus Thurgate in the 22nd minute, Connor O'Toole unleashed thunderbolt from the edge of the Adelaide area. Delianov got two firm hands to the shot but the power of the strike propelled the ball into the top corner and the 23-year-old celebrate his own first competition goal.
The set-back did not knock the Reds off their stride, with Halloran rifling a 25-yard effort back off the frame of Newcastle gloveman Jack Duncan's goal and Al Hassan Toure, making his first start of the season after suffering ankle problems, shinned a superb opportunity off target from 12 yards after Stefan Mauk cushioned down Craig Goodwin's delivery.
Newcastle absorbed more pressure up to half-time, with Ryan Strain fizzing a delivery across the Jets penalty box, and the trend continued after the interval. Socceroos ace Goodwin forced a fine, low, diving save from Duncan from close range, but the away side gave Adelaide a reminder of their danger when substitute, and former Red, Apostolos Stamatopoulos saw his header crash back off the woodwork.
The tempo increased to frantic levels in the closing stages, with Goodwin drilling a 25-yard free-kick off the upright, the fourth time the paintwork had been hit in the game. But when Ugarkovic dwelled on the ball in the 77th minute, Goodwin stole the ball away and thumped in a left-footed strike to net his second goal in two games since his return to the City of Churches, and lift the Reds up to third place on the ladder.
Next fixtures – Matchweek 12
Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United
Saturday, 13 March 2021
Venue: Marvel Stadium
Kick-off: 7.10pm AEDT
Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets
Saturday, 13 March 2021
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 5.05pm AEDT