Controversy as Reds battle for draw

ADELAIDE United’s frustrating start to the A-League season has continued after it dropped points at home for the second straight match.

The Reds came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw with Newcastle Jets at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night in a scrappy contest which sprung to life after the break.

Ronald Vargas handed the visitors the lead in the 52nd minute with a close range finish from Jason Hoffman’s low cross after ghosting into space in the United penalty area.

Craig Goodwin hit back 11 minutes later with a powerful header from a superb Michael Marrone delivery to spark the 7906 home crowd to life.

But United failed to find a way through the well organised Jets defence, as substitute George Blackwood went closest to securing the points when he fired a long range strike just wide.

Late drama ensued in the final minute of the game when Newcastle keeper Glen Moss clattered into Blackwood as he came for a cross and failed to collect the ball.

Adelaide United’s Papa Diawara (left) and Newcastle’s Nigel Boogaard compete for the ball on Friday night. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Referee Shaun Evans awarded a free kick to the visitors and stuck with his decision after VAR was used to review the incident.

A melee followed in the Newcastle box involving most of the players on the pitch, from which three players and Adelaide coach Marco Kurz were booked.

The result left the Reds searching for their first victory of the new campaign after being held to the same scoreline by Sydney FC a week earlier.

Again it was a display which impressed in patches, but failed to produce the cohesion and finishing touch in the front third to turn periods of dominance into three points.

Newcastle’s Jets forward Ronald Vargas tries to control the ball in front of Adelaide United midfielder Vince Lia on Friday night. Picture: Sarah ReedSource:News Corp Australia

Adelaide brought in Dane Ken Ilso for his league debut in place of the injured Mirko Boland.

Strikers Baba Diawara (knee) and Blackwood (calf) returned to the bench after missing last week due to knocks, meaning winger Ben Halloran again led the line in attack.

United overcame a sluggish opening to flourish late in the first half.

The hosts almost took the lead five minutes before the break when Goodwin fired an unstoppable free kick against the bar from out wide with Moss well beaten.

But earlier it was Paul Izzo who was worked twice as the visitors grew into the game midway through the opening period.

First the United keeper tipped away an inswinging Vargas free kick as it threatened to curl back over his head.

Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Glen Moss collides with Adelaide United forward George Blackwood. Picture: Sarah ReedSource:News Corp Australia

Then he reacted smartly to parry a Hoffman header wide from the resulting corner.

Adelaide was lacking fluency in the front third as the unfamiliarity of its attacking quartet became evident.

But Ilso’s first sight of goal after he was allowed to run from deep and fire in a low drive which was tipped around the post by Moss raised the spirits of the Hindmarsh crowd.

Centre back Jordan Elsey had to be at his best to twice deny the Jets with perfectly timed last ditch challenges.

Things get heated with Newcastle Jets captain Nigel Boogaard (left) having words with Adelaide players. Picture: Sarah ReedSource:News Corp Australia

Moss then did well to deny Ilso and Goodwin in quick succession.

Hoffman should have put Jets back in front when he had a free header in the second half, but he directed his effort at Izzo who produced a fine reflex block.

Halloran then blazed a chance over the bar when well placed after his clever turn on the edge of the box created space for the opportunity.

Tensions simmered late on as players from both sides weighed in on debating the contentious refereeing call.

But the Reds will see the match as another lost opportunity for maximum points ahead of Tuesday night’s FFA Cup final against Sydney FC.

Originally published as Controversy as Reds battle for draw

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