Adelaide’s finals hopes in the balance after entertaining draw with Sydney FC

Adelaide United missed the chance to take a stranglehold on a Hyundai A-League Finals Series berth after a 1-1 draw with Premiers Sydney FC on Thursday night.

In a game they were desperate to win to consolidate sixth spot on the ladder, the Reds made the perfect start when defender Jordan Elsey scored his first goal of the campaign inside 13 minutes.

But the Sky Blues ensured they wouldn’t slump to a third straight defeat for the first time in seven years, equalising before the break through Adam Le Fondre.

It was Le Fondre’s 19th goal of the campaign, taking him level at the top of the scorer’s charts with Melbourne City’s Jamie Maclaren.

While the Reds remain in sixth spot ahead of their final match of the regular season against City next week, their finals hopes are now out of their control.

Carl Veart’s side is five points ahead of Western United FC and Western Sydney, although United have three games in hand on the Reds, while the Wanderers have two games to play.

The result does officially end Newcastle Jets’ slim finals hopes, with the Hunter club now four points behind Adelaide but with just one more game to play.

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Key moments

Unmarked Elsey strikes early

What a start for the Reds in a game they need to win!

Lachlan Brook’s delivery from the corner was into a dangerous area, finding Elsey in loads of space in the middle of the penalty area.

The defender, who was surprisingly left totally unmarked, buried his header beautifully past a furious Andrew Redmayne in the Sydney goal.

WATCH: Elsey scores a rare goal

Ninkovic almost restores parity

The Sky Blues slowly worked their way into the contest and almost drew level on 25 minutes.

A flick into the box found its way to Milos Ninkovic, who juggled the ball a couple of times to get it away from a couple of defenders before unleashing a fierce strike at goal.

The Serbian’s rising strike was right down the middle though, allowing Paul Izzo to tip it over the bar.

WATCH: Izzo keeps out some Ninko magic

Le Fondre finishes off swift counter attack

Harry van der Saag started at right-back for the injured Rhyan Grant and the youngster played a key role in Sydney’s equaliser on 39 minutes.

The teenager stormed into Adelaide territory before playing a fantastic ball in behind for Trent Buhagiar to run onto.

Buhagiar got to the ball before the advancing Izzo, squaring it across goal for Le Fondre to tap into an empty net.

WATCH: Silky Sky Blues level the scores

Izzo called into action again

The game began to open up after the break and it was the Sky Blues who almost took advantage on the hour mark.

Paulo Retre feed the ball into Alexander Baumjohann about 25 yards from goal, with the German getting the ball out of his feet quickly before firing off a shot.

His effort had plenty of power and was on target, but Izzo did well to dive to his right and parry the ball away for a corner.

WATCH: Baumjohann tries his luck from distance

Redmayne’s turn to save his side

It was a real end-to-end contest now with the Reds enjoying a good spell heading into the final 20 minutes.

A good attack ended with Riley McGree blasting a wicked shot at goal, forcing a great reflex save from Redmayne to bat away the goal-bound effort.

WATCH: Redmayne denies McGree with a stunner

Next match

  • Melbourne City v Adelaide United

When: Tuesday, August 10
Where: ANZ Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEST

Match Centre

  • Brisbane Roar v Sydney FC

When: Monday, August 9
Where: ANZ Stadium
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEST

Match Centre

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