FFA Cup Pre-Final: Adelaide Utd v Perth Glory
December 15, 2014
More than 600 teams competed in the inaugural Football Federation Cup and now we’re down to the final 2. Far North Queensland’s fairy-tale finished at the round of 32 (the leg in which the A-League teams entered the tournament), while Bentleigh Greens were the best of the rest making it all the way to the semi finals. There were no real David versus Goliath stories in terms of Australia’s premier teams with A-League clubs only knocking one another out before Perth and Adelaide reached the finale. Both sides are desperate to be the first name engraved on the trophy but is it heading South or West?
Perth Power To The Decider
Perth’s FFA campaign got off to a glorious start despite taking on A-league opposition in their first match. The visitors secured a comfortable 2 nil win over a lacklustre Jets outfit in Newcastle thanks to a goal in each half from Irish Import Andy Keogh. Keogh was on target again as Perth beat part timers St Albans Saints 4-1 in their second away trip in succession. The 3 goal gap was somewhat flattering for the favourites who only led 1 nil at half time and 2-1 with 20 minutes to play. But ultimately Perth’s class helped them overcome their opponents to set up a quarter final clash with Melbourne Victory.
In their toughest test to date Perth took 120 minutes to see off the Victory in their first home game of the Cup. The Glory fell behind but turned the 1 nil deficit into a 2-1 lead before Melbourne levelled in injury time. The host went a man up then a goal up thanks to their teenage sensation Danny de Silva before another the purple men sealed the result with a fourth.
Perth put non-professional Bentleigh Greens away in the semi final. Nebojsa Marinkovic’s bagged a brace, his fabulous free kick was the highlight in a match where the hosts had their chances but rarely threatened to cause an upset. Perth proved their stamina and match fitness with 7 players backing up from an A-League victory over the Mariners just 48 hours earlier. A 3 nil win booked their berth in the first FFA Cup final.
Reds Run To The Final
One could argue Adelaide have had a tougher road to reach the final having knocked out four A-League opponents along the way. An understrength United started their run with a gutsy victory over Wellington after a lone first-half goal from Spaniard Sergio Cirio. The Reds kept a second straight clean sheet with a dominant display against the Roar in round 2. Cirio was on target again, this time in the second half, doubling the home side’s advantage after Bruce Djite opened the scoring in a soggy affair at Coopers Stadium.
Adelaide showed they were taking the competition seriously when they sent out a strong side against Sydney FC. That man Cirio scored for the third successive FFA Cup game but the Sky Blues levelled and had momentum at home until a contentious call on the hosts late in the encounter made the visitors’ task easier. After Sydney’s Nikola Petkovic was shown a straight red card for a bad challenge, United took advantage despite requiring extra time. Bruce Djite doubles in the extra 30 minutes sent Sydney Packing and the Reds marching on.
The South Australians were cruising against Central Coast in their semi final after late first half goals had them up 2 nil at the break. But a more determined Mariners proved a different proposition after re-emerging from the change rooms. The visitors got a goal back but Adelaide weathered the storm before their main man grabbed his fifth goal of the tournament. Cirio’s strike proving the difference after the Coast scored again with virtually the last kick of the game.
Adelaide At Home But Perth Proving Themselves Away
Both sides have juggled playing 2 competitions superbly and it’s apparent the Cup hasn’t distracted either from their A-League commitments. Although with one eye on Tuesday’s final Adelaide were below their best in a 1 nil loss to Brisbane on Friday night. Still the Reds sit in the top three. Perth leads the pack and put another three points on the board with a comfortable win over Newcastle, continuing their amazing winning streak heading into the Cup showdown. Adelaide however are the only side to have inflicted defeat on the Glory this year, scoring a 2 nil win at home, and they’ll fancy their chances of a similar result with the decider being played at Coopers Stadium. The Glory aren’t exactly thrilled about playing it in enemy territory but have gotten use to a luckless draw having played just one Cup tie in Perth.
The pair has provided some thrilling entertainment in the previous rounds and a cagey final isn’t expected, especially with Adelaide’s emphasis on attacking. But will it backfire against a Perth side which is proving powerful across the park. The 2 leading scorers will face off with Keogh and Cirio set to battle it out for the golden boot. But it’s the battle to lift the inaugural silverware that will take centre stage.