As the whistle drew the game to a close, the collective outpouring of emotion was noticeable form the Adelaide United players. They hugged and cheered both for their performance and their coach’s birthday and for almost losing the unlosable game.

The coach, Ivan Karlović, smiled upon arrival at the impromptu press conference being held in the middle of the Marden Sports Complex field. It wasn’t joy for the waiting media but watching as Michelle Heyman chased his kids around the oval and others kicked the ball with his son.

There was something beautiful and pure about it which felt far removed from the rigours of professional football and more akin to a family gathering. As shown by Emma Checker and Amber Brooks, the whole squad seems to be ‘clicking’ together in a way not seen before for Adelaide’s W-League side, Karlović agrees.

“They (Checker and Brooks) have formed a very solid partnership, it isn’t easy when you put two new players together but they’re both experienced players and good quality players but I think it’s not just them, the team ahead of them has made their job a lot easier as well so when they are called into action, they’ve done what they need to do,” he said.

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It seems that United are doing more than what they need to do, they are closing in on club records and inspiring hope in their long-suffering supporters.

Friday night’s win over Melbourne Victory meant Adelaide equalled its most wins in a season (three wins set in 2017/18, 2016/17 and 2014/15) and moved two points away from equalling their record points tally (14 points set in 2016/17).

It’s not just the only first achieved this season by the club, for the first time in eight seasons United can have genuine claim to be a finals aspirant or even title contender. That is the privilege that comes with being in third place at the time of writing, half-way through the season.

Not that the table matters slightly to Karlović, who would rather take the results as they come.

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“To be honest I am not really interested in the table, the table is just a by-product of what we do week in week out.

“For me, the most important thing was to try and improve every week and from seasons gone by and look there’s still five games to be played so a lot of points to play for.

“The table never lies at the end of the day, so if we deserve to be in that position then we will be in that position, we just need to concentrate week after week, I know it’s a cliché, but I think it is important for us a group to focus our attention on Newcastle and look to go over there and look to give a good account of ourselves and look to improve,” he said.

There’s a feeling that they can get even better as marquee signing Fanndís Friðriksdóttir, one of the more exciting talents in women’s football, is still working her way back into full-fitness and will only add to an attack containing the dangerous Veronica Latsko and Michelle Heyman.

Sometimes, results are not the only measure or indicator of how a team is going. Sometimes, you need to assess the intangibles to get a bigger, clearer picture and these intangibles show this team has a level of care for each other unlike many others.

That feeling could take them anywhere.

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A student at University of South Australia who hopes his writing disguises his lack of sporting prowess and a fan who masquerades his choice in mediocre teams as being hipster