|Line-ups after Bowles substituted on 20' minutes.|
However twenty minutes in, injury forced Gombau's hand. Bowles came off, and to Gombau's credit, he opted for an aggressive substitution; Elrich switched from left to right fullback, Zullo dropped back from left wing, and right footed attacking midfielder Mabil was fielded inverted on the left. Mabil naturally enough, looked to cut inside and dribble at Geria, but this also allowed Zullo to scamped upfield into the space he vacated, lending greater balance.
The key to the first half was the level of pressing. Adelaide were intent on pushing and pressurising Melbourne's defensive half. And that entailed playing a high line, keeping the distance between their forwards and defenders compact, but leaving space behind them that Melbourne could attack with balls over the top. By the end of the first half, Victory players had been caught offside half a dozen times, while Adelaide had none.
The Reds were able to score twice in quick succession. The first, a wrongfully given penalty, was tactically significant only in that it displayed Adelaide's success in building play through their left flank. The "assist" preceding the penalty was played with no less than four Adelaide players in close proximity on the left; Mabil darting inside, Zullo rampaging up wide, Jerinimo dashing between the opposing centre back and fullback and Cirio finding space between the lines.
The second goal followed a period of sustained possession on the right, before Elrich, now stationed at right back, cleverly switched the play to Cirio, who fed Mabil, again cutting inside from the left. Although not immediately exposed, their entire side had shifted toward Elrich's flank before he switched play. Mabil was now able to take on Geria one-on-one, before unleashing a vociferous shot, which rebounded but was then put away by Jeronimo. The common factors shared by the two goals were the close proximity of Mabil and Cirio as well as Zullo stretching the play on the left.
By the end of the first period, Adelaide found themselves with a two goal margin, despite not comprehensively outplaying their rivals. It came however at a cost; their level of pressing was unsustainable, and the Reds took the pitch after the break looking significantly lethargic. They were no longer able to push up high and harass the Navy Blues, so they sought to drop increasingly deep and protect their lead. That ultimately meant that the initiative belonged to Postecoglou, and the second half was the story of Postecoglou attacking and Gombau responding. During his maiden Championship win at Brisbane, Postecoglou similarly found himself staring down the barrels of a two goal defeat, and in both cases; he removed a defensive player and switched to an all-out attacking 4-2-4 system.
On 56' minutes, he exchanged Pain for speedy striker Barbarouses. Nichols became more of a permanent Number 10, and Thompson increasingly abandoned his wide position to stalk the penalty area. On 67' minutes, Gombau introduced an extra centre back in Elsey for defensive midfielder Watson, pushing Malik forward as extra security. On 71' minutes, Postecoglou removed centre back Ansell, dropping Milligan into centre back, Nichols into centre midfield and introducing Brazilian attacking midfielder Finkler. On 80' minutes, after conceding to a Finkler drive, Gombau removed his right winger, switching Mabil and pushing Cirio to the left, introducing Barker for extra security in central midfield. To recap, Postecoglou removed a centre back and winger for a striker and attacking midfielder, switching to 4-2-4, while Gombau introduced another centre back and central midfielder for more bodies in midfield.
|Line-ups by the end. Perhaps optimistic, Adelaide were almost confined to their penalty box by the end.|