Saturday, 7 February 2004 12:00 AM
Adelaide United 2 South Melbourne 0
A DEPLETED Adelaide United unleashed an early onslaught to topple third-placed South Melbourne at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight to edge closer to a dream finals spot in their first season.
Striker Nick Budin set the tone with a brilliant turn and volley to sweep home a left wing cross from new cult hero Fred Agius in only the sixth minute.
His first goal of the season perked up the NSL newcomer to keep pressuring the more experienced South Melbourne team before 12,463 fans.
Skilful Agius, 20, a former Australian under 17 international, inspired United in the absence of prolific striker Carl Veart and ex-international Goran Lozanovski and gave South’s usually sure defence plenty of headaches.
His poise and clever passes forced errors and his cross conjured up the opener for strike partner Budin.
New Zealand international Vaughan Coveny worked hard in his 300th NSL match but could not get his side to be a threat to a revved up United.
Budin forced South keeper Michael Theoklitos to parry a fierce shot in the 29th minute but two minutes later midfielder Ross Aloisi rewarded Adelaide’s constant pressure with a tap-in for 2-0.
Defender Michael Valkanis got on the end of some good lead up work by Agius and he kicked the ball invitingly across the South goal for Aloisi to race in and net his second goal this season.
Con Boutsianis flashed a trademark free kick from 20 metres just over the crossbar in the 50th minute but it was as much as South mustered as a threat in attack.
Adelaide United keeper David Scarsella ensured his team’s seventh clean sheet this season with an 80th minute save from Michael Curcija.
Aloisi just missed a second in the 53rd minute as his 25 metre drive rattled the corner of the crossbar and sailed over for a goal kick as United kept South pegged back.
United’s best win so far at home ensured they shored up fifth position with five games left to play but midfielder Aaron Westervelt was one of six players cautioned in the match and will miss Sunday’s match against the Melbourne Knights.
Adelaide United coach John Kosmina praised his players’ commitment and passion to down high-riding South Melbourne, squaring up for the away defeat against the same team earlier in the season. “We needed the result after last week’s poor performance (against Perth),” Kosmina said.
“The boys took it upon themselves to perform and they committed themselves superbly.”
South coach Stuart Munro couldn’t hide behind what he described as “the worst performance of the season” by his team.
“We could tell after the first 10 minutes when they let a few tackles fly that Adelaide were up for it and we weren’t,” he said.
“My players were second and third to nearly every ball in the first half.”
Munro said he didn’t know why but his team had failed miserably on three away trips in hot conditions this season.
“We were shaken in defence after our left fullback Simon Story pulled out today with a late injury and we never seemed to settle at the back with some players in new positions,” he said.
“But you can’t take anything away from Adelaide
“They kept us on the back foot virtually the whole game even after I gave them a roasting at half-time,” said Munro.
Munro said United’s first goal was great but described his defenders as “dead in the head’ as they witnessed the Aloisi goal that sealed it.
“I talked my assistant coach through the second goal – as it happened it was that obvious a player was loose in the penalty area,” he said.
“But we’ll bounce back next match. We’re capable of so much more.”