Adelaide United snapped its run of 10 games without a win after downing Newcastle Jets 1-0 at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.
Marcelo Carrusca converted from the spot after former Red Nigel Boogaard brought down Tarek Elrich in the box.
It was just the third win of the season for Gui Amor’s men, showing sparks of life with seven games to avoid the wooden spoon.
Standard of officiating raises eyebrows
Almost every time Adelaide laid a challenge on a Jets player, referee Kurt Ams blew his whistle. Some had a case to be made but the majority were 50/50 balls. What resulted was a slew of fouls against the Reds: 13 compared to Newcastle’s seven.
Riley McGree was denied a strong shout for a free kick after a run from deep early in the piece, but Ams made amends in the second half after awarding Adelaide a spot kick following a challenge on Elrich.
It is something that he was been talked about repeatedly this season, and yet the standard has remained the same.
John Hall silencing critics
Having conceded a total of seven goals in his two starts between the sticks, young goalkeeper John Hall had copped his fair share of criticism. On Friday night, Hall went a long way to proving he had the mettle to be a successful A-League gloveman with just one courageous display of goalkeeping.
Hall showed courage to move backward with the flight of the ball, injuring himself in the process after colliding with the post. Indeed, Hall had gone a long way to proving his credentials in last week’s clash with Perth Glory despite the unflattering scoreline.
The Adelaide boy came up big in injury time to deny the Glory three sure goals, and he built on that this week with a coming out game of sorts. He is making some of his critics eat their words.
Adelaide unearth their Stefan Mauk replacement
Riley McGree has steadily improved with each start in his debut season for the Reds.
He showed shades of former Adelaide midfielder Stefan Mauk on Friday night, suggesting that management need not look too far from their own backyard for replacements this off-season.
McGree’s surging runs from deep were reminiscent of Mauk and the youngster battled for every ball on the defensive end in what was a true box-to-box performance.
One of the reasons why Adelaide has been so disappointing this season has been their failure to truly replace Mauk after his departure, but McGree can grow into that role moving forward if persisted with.
Asia a hot bed of untapped potential
With South Korean Kim Jae-sung making his debut in an Adelaide shirt, two players from the continent lined up opposite each other as Chinese midfielder Ma Leilei made his 12th appearance of the season for Newcastle.
Ma has proven a shrewd off-season acquisition as he looks two steps ahead of his opponents, displaying brilliant technical ability.
On the flip side, Kim looks like he could be a class player going forward for Adelaide as he finds his feet.
Not a lot of players from Asia have been given a go in the A-League, but the performances of these two show that clubs should be more willing to take a punt.
Nabbout goes cold
The winger had been in red hot form leading up to the contest, but tonight he was ice cold.
Nabbout was rarely seen as he failed to get the better of right-back Michael Marrone, and the Jets’ avenue to goal was snuffed as a result.
Newcastle failed to get anywhere near Adelaide’s box for large chunks of the game, and a big part of that was the anonymous performance of Nabbout, and even Andrew Hoole on the opposite wing.
It was a forgettable performance for the former Victory junior in what has otherwise been an outstanding season.