Chidiac-inspired comeback leaves Adelaide still searching for Victory

Adelaide United 1-2 Melbourne Victory

by Ben Gilby (21/1/23)

Above: Alex Chidiac (left) jumps for joy after scoring her equaliser for Melbourne Victory as Beattie Goad looks to join in the celebrations. Photo: Keep Up.

Melbourne Victory ended their run of three straight draws after coming from behind to defeat Adelaide United at ServiceFM Stadium today.

Second-half strikes from the influential Alex Chidiac and Kayla Morrison were reward for a greatly improved showing from Jeff Hopkins’ side after the break.

Whilst the visitors return to winning ways, Adelaide United’s finals hopes remain in real danger after their run without a win extends to five games – a spell that has seen them assemble only a single point since 17th December.

As predicted in his media conference on Friday (see https://impetusfootball.org/2023/01/20/a-league-women-media-conferences-7/), Adelaide United boss Adrian Stenta was able to bring back Jenna McCormick and Katie Bowler into his squad.

Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins made five changes to the team that gained a draw at Western Sydney Wanderers on Wednesday. Casey Dumont, who has been in superb form all season, missed out due to illness, with Miranda Templeman taking her place in goal. Also coming in were Tiff Eliadis, Paige Zois, Elise Kellond-Knight, and Maja Markovski, who made her first start of the season after injury.

Adelaide took the lead with eight minutes on the clock. Claudia Bunge was adjudged to have punished Emilia Murray in the back out on the right outside the box. Mindy Barbieri floated in the free-kick and last season’s A-League Women’s top scorer Fiona Worts was left unmarked to head comfortably into the far left-hand corner of the net for her first of the campaign.

Above: Adeliade United celebrate after Fiona Worts put them ahead. Photo: Adelaide United.

The South Australians had built their first-half performance around winning the midfield battle and created a number of half chances to increase their lead which Victory were able to scramble away. Adelaide achieved this despite only having 40% of possession. Therefore warning signs were there for Adrian Stenta’s side. Creating chances and not taking them when having less of the ball is a recipe for longer-term problems in a match.

As the half ticked on past the half-hour mark, the visitors began to assert themselves far more offensively. Beattie Goad’s influence was increasing with jinking runs and deliveries from the left.

Adelaide were becoming more disjointed and inaccurate with their passing, with Victory increasing the pace of their press on any red shirt with the ball. They did though manage to create another excellent opportunity as Worts beat Kellond-Knight along the left of the box and pulled a low ball across for Chelsie Dawber who couldn’t get sufficient power into her shot to worry Templeman.

As the half came to an end, the momentum was shifting towards the visitors as their possession time in the final third increased incrementally.

Chidiac stepped it up from the restart. A marauding run with a swift injection of pace eased her through the Adelaide defence before offloading to Goad who fired in an effort that Grove dealt with. It was a warning sign.

Just moments later, Goad escaped from the close attentions of Yuyi Xiao and Isabel Hodgson on the left and pulled a low ball into the centre of the box for Chidiac to take a touch and fire home a low half volley.

Victory were now dominant with Chidiac pulling the strings and a combination of Goad and Eliadis threatening the Adelaide defence. With the battle of the midfield now clearly going the way of the visitors, Jeff Hopkins’ side were energised. They were quicker in their press, more rapid in their attacking, and more creative in their attacking ideas.

Above: Alex Chidiac shows her delight after equalising for Melbourne Victory. It was a sensational second-half performance from the Matildas midfielder. Photo: Keep Up.

When the home side did offer something offensively, it was noticeably more ponderous in its construction. They did offer a glimmer with Worts’ low long-distance shot being claimed by Templeman, but it only served to provoke Chidiac into another creative surge.

The Matildas midfielder showed great pace to run between Barbieri and Sasaki and driving a high ball in that was directed by a defender onto their own crossbar with Markovski unable to force the rebound in.

Markovski saw another opportunity go agonisingly wide when Rikke Madsen’s pass across to Kellond-Knight was played across to the attacker who sent the ball trickling past the left-hand post.

Goad created once more along the left and escaped from Paige Hayward to send in a high ball for Lia Privitelli at the back post, but the header was just over the top. Chidiac then saw a deliberate Olimpico attempt just fail from the right within seconds. A goal was coming for the visitors. It was just a matter of when.

It came within moments. Chidiac stepped up once more with a corner on the left which came high into the mix and was met by Morrison with a looping header from the edge of the six-yard box.

Seconds later, Chidiac was within centimetres of doubling her side’s lead with a moment of outrageous skill. She lifted the ball over McCormick just outside the box and as it came down, headed against the bar.

There was time for one final opportunity for Adelaide to save a point. Worts’ ball in from the left was met by the head of McCormick, but Templeman made a superb diving save.

Adelaide United are now at a crossroads. They are creating chances, but cannot convert them as they did last season. The Reds’ current poor run of results also comes with a statistic of only two goals in five matches. Things won’t get any easier next weekend when they travel to Melbourne City. Their season is very much on the line.

Teams: ADELAIDE UNITED (4-3-3): Grove, I. Hodgson, McCormick, Waldus, Hayward, Barbieri, Sasaki, Dawber, Xiao, Murray, Worts. Substitutes: Bowler, Coorey, Farrow, E. Hodgson, Westland.

Scorers: Worts 8′.

MELBOURNE VICTORY (4-2-3-1): Templeman, Nash, Bunge, Morrison, Tathem, Eliadis, Kellond-Knight, Zois, Chidiac, Goad, Markovski. Substitutes: Jackson, Madsen, Murphy, Privitelli, Rowe.

Scorers: Chidiac 51′, Morrison 85′.

Referee: Rebecca Durcau.

Attendance: 1,006.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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