October 6, 2012
Travel-weary Adelaide spoil Heskey debut
Adelaide United spoiled Emile Heskey's A-League debut as they defied a brutal travel schedule to open their season with a 2-0 upset of Newcastle at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
Goals to Dario Vidosic and Iain Ramsay secured the win in front of 14,868 fans, in a remarkable performance less than four days after their extra-time quarter-final Asian Champions League loss to Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan.
"It's been a long week," said Reds coach John Kosmina, whose side spent 33 hours making the 11,000km journey from Tashkent to Newcastle.
"There were moments during the game that showed we were fatigued.
"But for the guys to get through what we did on Wednesday night ... (playing) 120 minutes for most of them ... and all the travel we had with two nights sleeping on a plane, it's been a fantastic effort."
Heskey only arrived in Australia 10 days ago but started the match and put in a 70-minute shift, despite Jets coach Gary van Egmond's initial plans to ease him into action with half a game.
The 34-year-old showed glimpses of his class but looked sluggish at times and is sure to benefit from the run.
"I thought his contribution was great," van Egmond said.
"He's a real target man up front and you see a number of times where people can look to play the ball in and look to run off him. We need to get better at that.
"... He's wanting to stay out there for 95 minutes but we have to be a little bit careful with him.
"I was looking at (giving him) half a game to be honest, but he's got such a will to play and to get out there and to try and contribute."
The hype surrounding Heskey's arrival and Adelaide's short turnaround had the Jets heavy favourites but they found themselves on the back foot immediately after the impressive Vidosic struck after 59 seconds.
Following some good lead-up work from Argentine import Jeronimo Nuemann, Vidosic shook off Jets defender Josh Mitchell with ease and finished from close range.
The Jets enjoyed the better of possession and field position for much of the half as they chased an equaliser but lacked cohesion in the final third.
Heskey's only real scoring chance came just after halftime but he produced a lethargic effort to barely get a header on Scott Neville's inviting cross.
The home side went down to 10 men in the 57th minute when referee Shaun Evans sent goalkeeper Mark Birighitti off and Ben Kennedy took his place in between the sticks.
The substitute keeper pulled off a great save to keep the Jets in the game but Adelaide sealed a well-earned three competition points when Vidosic set up Ramsay for a simple tap-in in the 75th minute.
Kosmina said the ACL may have been a blessing in disguise as his side came into the A-League with two tough games under their belt and predicted his side would only improve.
Van Egmond was cagey at times during the post-match press conference, bristling at one reporter's suggestion the Jets looked disjointed and lethargic despite their intent to play attacking football.
"That's why you're a journalist," van Egmond said.
|Newcastle Jets||Adelaide United|
|20 Mark Birighitti||1 Eugene Galekovic|
|2 Scott Neville||3 Nigel Boogaard|
|5 Dominik Ritter||6 Cassio|
|4 Josh Mitchell||12 Anthony Golec|
|8 Ruben Zadkovich||16 Daniel Bowles|
|6 Ben Kantarovski||17 Iain Ramsay|
|15 Craig Goodwin||10 Dario Vidosic|
|9 Emile Heskey||14 Cameron Watson|
|16 Jobe Wheelhouse||2 Osama Malik|
|23 Ryan Griffiths||11 Bruce Djite|
|22 Adam Taggart||21 Jeronimo Neumann|
|1 Ben Kennedy||John Hall 30|
|11 Connor Chapman||Fabio Ferreira 22|
|19 Michael Bridges||Bark-Dogg 19|
|17 James Virgili||Marcelo Carrusca 8|
|Ben Kennedy for Adam Taggart (59)||Fabio Ferreira for Jeronimo Neumann (71)|
|James Virgili for Emile Heskey (71)||Bark-Dogg for Osama Malik (76)|
|Michael Bridges for Jobe Wheelhouse (78)||Marcelo Carrusca for Bruce Djite (78)|
|Dominik Ritter (80)||Nigel Boogaard (52)|
|Daniel Bowles (68)|
|Mark Birighitti (57)|
|· Squads: Newcastle Jets | Adelaide United|