Adelaide Utd completes Victory hat-trick
Adelaide United edged closer to the A-League minor premiership after beating Melbourne Victory 1-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday night.
Midfielder Travis Dodd netted in the 14th minute before a healthy crowd of 13,427 to deliver United's sixth straight win and a hat-trick of one-goal victories over Melbourne this season.
The win stretched United's lead at the top of the A-League ladder to 10 points ahead of other round 17 matches and dealt a major blow to Melbourne's finals chances.
Speedy Dodd coolly netted the only goal after combining with Carl Veart despite the Victory opening in a pressing mood after three days' extra rest since their last match.
Dodd worked his marker inside on the right and ran onto a clever through ball from Veart behind the Victory defenders to slot low past keeper Michael Theoklitos.
Melbourne started well and striker Daniel Allsopp almost embarrassed United keeper Robert Bajic in just the third minute when he blocked his clearing kick and the ball rebounded narrowly wide for a goal kick.
Allsopp also volleyed just wide from 12 metres four minutes on but then United got into stride with Veart in majestic touch in midfield to set up the only goal and generally control the tempo with Ross Aloisi and left midfielder Lucas Pantelis.
Socceroo striker Archie Thompson, tipped to be joining national coach Guus Hiddink's PSV Eindhoven, spurned a couple of gilt-edge chances along with Allsopp.
Thompson beat the offside trap in the 29th minute but his shot was well parried by Bajic, who had to also save a follow-up drive from Kristian Sarkies.
He hit the side netting in the 36th minute after turning his marker and looking to have the goal at his mercy.
Adelaide looked content to simply counter in the second half after tiredness set in, though Allsopp carved out another good chance in the 73rd minute only to hit the side netting from 15 metres out.
And his miss with a free header in the 83rd minute simply underlined why the Victory has slumped to its six loss in the past nine games to slip from a top-two spot to sixth.
Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick said panicky finishing cost Victory.
"We finished off well the last 25 minutes and never gave it up to our credit," Merrick said.
"But Adelaide showed us how to finish with their goal despite limited chances."
The Victory outgunned United in the shooting statistics 13 to six but failed to find a goal against United for the third time this season.
"You can say they are our bogey side," Merrick said.
Merrick said Thompson played the full match despite a bout of tonsilitis but rued the continual missing of key players each week.
"It's like we're struggling to get on the park with our most experienced line-up each week," he said.
"Just as the midfield came together last week, we lost Steve Pantelidis through suspension."
Merrick said he was not aware of any formal offer from PSV Eindhoven for Thompson yet.
Key midfielder Richard Kitzbichler also had to be replaced in the 38th minute after tearing a hamstring while Adelaide United's in-form Brazilian striker Fernando Rech was replaced in the 30th minute with what United coach John Kosmina described as a "hamstring niggle."
Kosmina praised his players for a strong showing just four days after winning against Queensland.
"It was a big ask but they were fantastic," Kosmina said.
"I think we actually controlled the 90 minutes.'
However, he said Adelaide still needed to play like "we're one point in front, not 10" in the next match against Perth.