After a scoreless albeit eventful draw, Fiasco Sports examines how both sides fared in the Round 8 fixture at Coopers Stadium.
1. Mark Birighitti the Newcastle Jets saviour
Newcastle proved again to have the best goalkeeping depth in the A-League, as Mark Birighitti stood large to repel United’s 10 strikes on target.
Shots from Isaias in the first half, and James Jeggo and Craig Goodwin were all dealt with in an expert manner.
Birighitti also somehow managed to block an offside Dylan McGowan’s strike, even though the Newcastle gloveman was on the deck.
United tended to favour long range strikes against the opposition goal, and Birighitti proved to have the chops to remain a presence in the Jet’s defensive third.
The performance is only rivalled by Ben Kennedy against Melbourne Victory this season, where he provided numerous intricate saves to give his side the win.
2. Attacking midfielders lack form
A subdued performance by George Mells ahead of Marcelo Carrusca last week led pundits to assume the Argentine would regain his starting position.
However, United tactician Guillermo Amor again opted to start the 18-year old Southampton youth product in favour of his more experienced compatriot.
Having failed to mark a significant presence throughout the majority of the game, Amor brought on Carrusca in the 70th minute to an equally disappointing effect.
The playmaking position has so far been Amor’s Achilles heel, as neither player has produced the creative movements expected of them.
It was much publicised that Amor would allow Carrusca greater freedom ahead of the fateful 2015/16 season.
It must now be considered whether more stringent instructions on plays will help both midfielders find momentum in the search for goals.
3. Injuries take toll on both sides
The centre-back position would suffered the most hits, as United and Jets stoppers Osama Malik and Nigel Boogard left the field nursing injuries.
It took only four minutes for the former to go down and require medical attention, replaced by a Jordan Elsey returning from ACL recovery.
Coach Amor later claimed that no event at training had suggested Malik was nursing a hamstring complaint heading into the game.
Boogard also went down with a knee complaint in the 82nd minute, and was substituted for Adelaide homeboy Ryan Kitto.
Both Malik and Boogard are essential to their respective backlines, drawing questions about how each club will look to adjust for next week’s fixtures.
4. One Issue resolved, another rises
A solid defensive display was evident in United, albeit against a Newcastle attack that often lacked intensity throughout the game.
Nevertheless, all four United defenders fell back convincingly, with some of the forwards employed to track extra opposition.
Of particular note was Elsey, who made numerous tackles and was an all-round physical force in defence.
Whilst improving defensively, United struggled in set pieces with Goodwin and Jeggo inconsistent from outside the box.
Both floated crosses into a crowded box only for the ball to clear everyone and return to Birighitti for a goal kick.
The aspect of the game has long been a strong suit of Goodwin, but the versatile winger will need to revise his use of floating balls.
5. United the more disappointed side
With Amor hyping the game to be an equivalent of a ‘grand final’ for the home side, United will rue the misfortune of bagging anything less than a win.
Ten shots on target in comparison to Newcastle’s zero is a telling statistic of a game where Adelaide threatened, but failed to deliver.
With the plan to acquire form in the run up to next week failing, United will have a mountain to climb against current A-League benchmark Melbourne Victory.
United have been unable to beat the fast paced attacking side since 2012, and have a more dismal record away in Melbourne.
Melbourne Victory will enter the fixture as immense favourites to beat United, despite the signs of improvement amongst the Reds.
Similarly, Newcastle will return home to face Brisbane Roar, a side that has appeared significantly revitalised under new coach John Aloisi.
Scott Miller will need to employ the full strength of his defence and Birighitti in goal to repel the Queensland side that also appear favourites.
Written by Daniel Kuberek @kuubeey