Adelaide United recovered an early deficit to win 3-2 at North Queensland Fury and assume pole position in the A-League, at least for 24 hours. A stunning Marcos Flores strike, Brett Studman’s own-goal and a Daniel Mullen header inflicted a first defeat of the season on Franz Straka’s team.
The victory took Adelaide to eight points from four outings, one above Perth Glory, who are away to rock-bottom Melbourne Heart tomorrow. Brisbane Roar, who beat New Zealand representatives Wellington Phoenix yesterday thanks to a solitary goal from, ironically, Kiwi striker Kosta Barbarouses, are also a point off the pace with a game in hand. North Queensland sit three points off the summit.
It took the Fury just seven minutes to break the deadlock in front of their own supporters at Dairy Farmers Stadium. Eugene Sseppuya broke down the wing and his cross was headed home by the leaping Isaka Cernak.
United responded in spectacular fashion. Paul Reid looped the ball into the path of Flores, who controlled it while balancing on one leg, flicked it on to his left foot and volleyed it home from the edge of the box.
North Queensland had been the better side until the Argentinian playmaker’s early goal of the season contender, but Adelaide took the ascendancy thereafter. They needed a slice of luck to go in front, though, with Lucas Pantelis’s drive being diverted into his own net by a sliding Studman.
Pantelis was the creator of United’s third goal, too, although his assist was facilitatedby some woeful defending. The diminutive winger whipped in a corner and Mullen, who was somehow left unmarked within a crowded box, was presented with a simple header, which he took to make it 3-1. A firm, low finish from Williams on 87 minutes ensured a nervy finish, but despite the Fury’s pressure, United held on for the victory.
Sky Blue collapse
In the other game of the day, struggling reigning champions Sydney FC drew 1-1 at home to Central Coast Mariners. The Sky Blues appeared to be heading for their first victory of the season thanks to a 48th-minute strike from teenager Rhyan Grant.
However, the game took a sharp twist when SFC goalkeeper Liam Reddy brought down substitute Patricio Perez inside the box on 71 minutes. The 30-year-old custodian was sent off, and the former Argentina U-20 international dispatched the spot-kick to earn the visitors a share of the spoils.
Sydney are second-bottom on two points, while Central Coast are fifth on five.