Reds must shake off sleepy starts ahead of finals

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Adelaide United are hitting their straps at the perfect time, making it five wins on the trot heading into finals – but there is one glaring issue that has been their issue all season long. 

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The “comeback kings” has been the nickname for Adelaide United all season long, as time after time they have come back from being behind to snatch a victory.

On Sunday, Adelaide allowed Western United straight into the game as Dylan Wenzel-Halls scored a tap in from point-blank range within the first five minutes. 

Again, the Reds had let their opposition hit the lead first and allowed them to control the game.

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Adelaide have conceded the first goal 14 times this season, only last-placed Perth Glory have conceded the first goal more often (18 times).

And as we now approach finals football, Adelaide cannot let sides have an early sniff of the lead.

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Despite the Reds’ comeback football being extremely entertaining, it is not a winning formula for finals football.

In the last three A-League Men’s finals series, the team that has scored first has won 13 of the 14 games. 

So how do Adelaide fix this? 

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Firstly, head coach Carl Veart will need to decide on his best number nine and number 10 combination – as they lined up with yet another different combination against Western United.

“I made the decision very late to bring in Kasini (Yengi) for Hiroshi (Ibusuki),” Veart said. 

“And partnering him with George (Blackwood) worked very well, George is very good at playing in between, in between the lines and picking them ball up. 

“Whilst Yengi is very threatening in behind, and he showed that tonight.” 

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The combination of Yengi and Blackwood was the Reds’ 10th different combination of a striker and attacking midfielder since Stefan Mauk’s departure earlier in the season and Veart is still unsure on which is his desired combo.

“It has given me a bit of a headache to see who will play next week,” Veart said. 

“We’ll have to look to see what is the best balance for us and what’s going to cause the most problems for Central Coast Mariners next week, but as of now I’m unsure.” 

Featured image credit: Jordan Trombetta

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Cameron Ottenhoff
Sport, media and communications student at Flinders University in Adelaide. I was forced to hang the boots up at a young age after discovering I'm no good at sport, so now I just talk about it instead.

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