Majestic Flores sees Reds march on

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By Michal Roucek.

Hindmarsh Stadium welcomed table topping Adelaide United home fresh from two victories on the road for the clash against the Newcastle United Jets on Saturday night in Round 6.

The Reds fielded an unchanged line-up that put Sydney FC to the sword at Moore Park Road. Rini Coolen’s men were keen to continue the excellent recent form that has seen them rightly confirm early season favouritism for the Hyundai A-League Premiers’ Plate.

Newcastle United set their team in a 4-2-3-1 with Ben Kennedy in goals behind a back four of Elrich, Milicevic, Topor-Stanley and D’Apuzzo. Ruben Zadkovich was suspended following the red card he picked up late in last week’s match against the Brisbane Roar. This allowed Chinese International, Shuo, previously of Tianjin Teda his first start for the financially strained Jets.

The Reds started well but the Jets matched them from the outset with a compact midfield and defence which did not allow any freedom for the in-form Adelaide front three. Matthew Leckie had twin raids first on the right and then the left flank giving young D’Apuzzo and Elrich plenty to do in thwarting the Adelaide starlet.

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On 12 minutes after sustained pressure from consecutive set pieces, Leckie showed his value to the Reds. Following a deep corner to the back post, Leckie’s first touch took it away from experienced midfielder Kasey Wehrman whilst his second released an almighty blast into the six yard blast after the young enforcer somehow created space in a crowded penalty area. Tarek Elrich responded very well to clear the danger.

In the 22nd minute, after Newcastle had begun to show signs of danger with their front men of Bridge and Shuo beginning to form a nice combination, Cassio lost Jeremy Brockie and delivered a cross directly onto the head of the free Matthew Leckie. The form Hyundai A-League striker doesn’t need an invitation and duly buried the chance.

Adelaide up 1-0.

Newcastle did not drop their bundle and maintained composure in possession. On 29 minutes some good work in transition saw the Jets play it out from the back after regaining possession. This caught the marauding Reds front three and several midfielders out of position as they pressed forward. Adam D’Apuzzo made a long run seemingly invited into a scoring position. D’Apuzzo found Bridges who released Jeremy Brockie who angled his body well to make a curling strike slap the right post of a beaten Socceroo in Galekovic. D’Apuzzo had a follow up which Galekovic, who had recovered well in seconds, batted it away to safety for a corner.

Shuo had a fantastic opportunity to open his Hyundai A-League account after Kantarovski had, with a forty yard pass from the outside of his boot, nearly put a galloping Brockie in on goal. From the resulting corner, the play opened up for Shuo who hammered it on target but Galekovic was good enough to save and hold.

From the next raid it was Adelaide who had the opportunity to extend their lead with Marcos Flores creating space for a shot which was launched with venom. Jets keeper Kennedy was equal to the task and made a strong save to mirror Galekovic’s effort moments earlier.

In the 35th minute Young Socceroo Kantarovski, who shows maturity beyond his years managing flow of the match for the Jets released a well-forward Tarek Elrich. The fullback delivered a sumptuous cross to Brockie who was coming in at the far post. It was the Jets with great momentum leading into half time.

At the restart, the Matthew-Leckie-show continued although the best chance of the half came after the Young Socceroo lost out to substitute Sean Rooney. Rooney then put Marko Jesic in but some good scrambling put enough pressure to see a shot reach Galekovic without much pace.

Newcastle were infused with confidence and continued to press the Reds well. On the hour mark Rooney, who was making great runs into the channels, created different focal points for attack. Michael Bridges continued his tireless movement and released Brockie into space who thought he had beaten the offside trap and put the ball into Galekovic’s net. Brockie smiled wryly as he acknowledged the linesman’s flag.

Just as last week when Sydney began to get themselves back into the match, Reds manager Rini Coolen opted to strengthen the back four removing Watson for Robbie Cornthwaite and pushing Joe Mullen to right back.

As if on cue, Mullen released pressure at the back defusing a Jets attacking raid. Galekovic cleared it up the field to Sergio van Dijk who found Marcos Flores under pressure.

Flores started what was to become one of the great Hyundai A-League runs.

Flores did well simply to beat Rooney and Kantarovski before approaching former UEFA Champions League defender Ljubo Milicevic. Milicevic showed Flores the sideline but the playmaker jinked inside making big Ljubo stumble before rounding Tarek Elrich to make space for the shot. With compsure after beating four Jets defenders, Flores despatched it coolly into the top corner of the far side of the goal before continuing the run straight into Fort Hindmarsh to join the swelling throng.

Simply brilliant.

Flores, after showing what he’s capable of two weeks ago against the North Queensland Fury, has now scored back to back wondergoals and the Hindmarsh fans will be wanting to come back next week to see what the Argentine can conjure up.

A cruel blow for the financially ailing Jets who were shattered after the moment of individual brilliance snuffed the urgency from their play. The Jets were lucky not to be further struck when van Dijk found space from a Hughes cross to head home only to be adjudged correctly offside by the man with the flag.

On 78 minutes one of the biggest cheers Hindmarsh has seen for quite some time greeted the departure of Marcos Flores. A Hindmarsh crowd in full voice rising as one to cheer the contribution of a magician.

There are some that see the run unfold before them, see the space before it offers itself to the ball possessor and have the ability to chase it. Then there are those who see this and prosecute the scoring opportunity, not content with being known for the run. Lionel Messi is one who does this week in week out. Flores has shown that he has what it takes to be measured in the same breath as his countryman. If Flores can repeat this again in their next home game in a few weeks time against contenders Perth, he will show that he means business, and the Reds can dream of their second Premiers Plate.

Minutes from time, Brazilian defender Cassio received a hospital pass from Iain Fyfe who dummied through his legs awkwardly. Cassio, who played Adelaide into the lead for the first goal, lapsed allowing Sean Rooney possession in a dangerous position. Rooney slotted past the furious Galekovic and Newcastle had a lifeline at the death. 2-1.

Newcastle now with momentum and deep into stoppage time had an opportunity from the set piece after Marko Jesic was felled to relieve pressure. Jesic delivered a long free kick onto Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s head and the Jet could not put it on target, narrowly missing a chance to snatch a point at the death.

Fittingly given the contribution – the majesty of Flores proved the difference.

Adelaide have a stern test next week travelling to Brisbane to face the in form Roar fresh from the bye on Saturday night at Suncorp, whilst the Jets have a midweek fixture on the Gold Coast against another United at Skilled Stadium.

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