By Lance Jenkinson
While the fans got their money’s worth, the coaches ripped their hair out, as the first game of A-League football at the Whitten Oval finished in a seven-goal spree.
After twice fighting back from deficits to equalise, Western United did not have another comeback in it, as it conceded the final goal of the match to lose 4-3 to a persistent Adelaide United on Sunday.
It was a game that will live long in the memory of those who love attacking football, but not so for the respective defensive units of the two sides.
Concerns are growing over Western United’s leaky defence, which has conceded 10 goals in the past four games.
“It was an incredible game, it was crazy at times,”
Western coach Mark Rudan said. “They were very good at identifying space.
“They picked their moments and they had a bit of quality.
“That was most disappointing that we were able to give them some pretty easy shots on goal in the box.”
The Australia Day contest was one of the games of the season.
You could tell from early on that it was not going to be a dull affair as Nikola Mileusnic opened the scoring for Adelaide in the ninth minute.
After two early misses, Besart Berisha, celebrating his 200th A-League game, netted an equaliser in the 12th minute and celebrated with the Western Service Crew supporter group.
The goal was finished by Berisha, but it was delivered by Max Burgess, who carved his way through the Adelaide defence to find Berisha, who powered home on his left boot.
Adelaide quickly restored its advantage through a second goal to Mileusnic and Riley McGree made it three goals in nine minutes for the visitors to make it 3-1.
Just before half time, Berisha cut the deficit back to one, following a nice build up play from Burgess, who found Connor Pain on the left and Pain served up a delightful cross for Berisha to tap home.
Rudan paid tribute to Berisha after his milestone game – even though he felt his striker should have scored a hat-trick given his chances.
“Two fantastically well taken goals,” Rudan said.
“He continues to score goals and that’s what he gets paid to do. “Two hundred games, it’s a great achievement for Bes.”
In the 54th minute, Alessandro Diamanti put Western United on level terms with cracking long range goal.
It seemed like United had the momentum to go on and take all three points, but hometown hearts were broken when Adelaide super sub Nathan Konstandopoulos bobbed up to score the winner.
Western United is clinging to a spot in the top six ahead of a trip to bottom-ofthe-ladder Newcastle Jets on Saturday evening