The A-League’s makeshift season opener delivered plenty of action but no goals as Western United and Adelaide United were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw at GMHBA Stadium.
Elevated to the top of the run sheet after NSW’s coronavirus cluster played havoc on the A-League schedule, Monday night’s clash proved a feisty one in front of 5,128 fans.
The Reds could easily have snared all three points but for Western United’s desperate defending which included a goal-line clearance in each half.
“A draw in the end’s a fair result,” Adelaide coach Carl Veart said. “As the game went on I think we were the side that was more likely to win but I was happy with that performance.”
Adelaide’s squad, heavily hit by departures over the off-season, offered a glimpse of life to come under Veart with a plethora of local products and youngsters.
That included 17-year-old debutant Yaya Dukuly, who was lively early as Adelaide made a strong start.
Spanish recruit Victor Sanchez started in midfield for Western United alongside former Melbourne City winger Lachlan Wales.
Adelaide unleashed fringe Socceroos striker Tomi Juric in his first game for the club since 2013, and he was close to opening the scoring in the 35th minute.
Jordan Elsey lifted a ball over the top of the Western defence to Juric, who attempted to glance it home first-time, only for the excellent Tomoki Imai to clear it off the line.
Three minutes later, Diamanti’s thumping half-volley forced a good reflex save from Adelaide goalkeeper James Delianov.
Juric again came close to opening his account in the 52nd minute when he took possession and turned onto his left and sent a skidding long-range shot wide of the far post.
The Socceroo was almost a provider in the 66th minute when he turned on a dime and sent the ball out to Ben Halloran.
The winger beat Omai and whipped a shot goal-bound only for Western United’s Aaron Calver to make the crucial goal-line intervention.
Three minutes later, Delianov made another excellent block, this time denying Connor Pain.
“I felt like it was two points dropped because we were at home, they’re a youngish side and we spoke a lot about starting off on the right foot and making sure we started positively to the season,” Western coach Mark Rudan said.
Meanwhile Rudan confirmed attacker Max Burgess, who is yet to join his United teammates in training after reportedly seeking a release, would return to the club from NSW and be welcomed back “with open arms”.