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Jan 13, 2009

Adelaide out to tighten grip on top spot

Adelaide United can take a giant step towards the A-League minor premiership and qualification for another Asian campaign when they meet Queensland Roar at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday night.

A win to the Reds would put them four points clear of second-placed Melbourne Victory with two rounds to play.

That result would create a two-team battle for top spot, as it would leave the third-placed Roar seven points adrift and out of the running.

The minor premiership guarantees entry into the 2010 Asian Champions League, a competition in which Adelaide this year became the first A-League club to reach the final.

United have been near-unstoppable at home this season, with eight wins, a draw and a loss from 10 games, including a 2-0 win over Newcastle last Friday night.

But the Roar have few fears of enemy territory, having lost just once in their 10 previous away trips.

They are coming off a crucial 4-3 win over Central Coast in Gosford and will close to within a point of Adelaide with victory at Hindmarsh.

The Roar are missing some key players, with tough midfielder Danny Tiatto and defensive stalwart Josh McLoughan forced out injured, joining Charlie Miller and Reinaldo on the sidelines.

But Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar said the visitors were still capable of giving his side some headaches.

"They're a very quick and mobile side. We've always had a few problems with them so I think were going to be up for an extremely difficult game," he said.

"But if we can play to our potential, which I know that we can, then certainly it gives us every shot at taking the three points."

Adelaide, who will be playing their fourth game in 12 days, also have some injury concerns, with defender Daniel Mullen forced out.

Veterans Paul Agostino, who has worked his way back from injury, and Angelo Costanzo, who has been out of favour, were included in an extended squad, but two players were still to be omitted.

Striker Agostino, who is retiring at the end of the season, has played the past three games in Adelaide's youth side.

"He's injury-free and that's a real bonus coming towards the end of the season," Vidmar said.

"He certainly brings a presence to the team, there's no question about that, whether we decide to do that or not is another question."

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