Related: Adelaide United crowned A-League champions after grand final win over Western Sydney
That’s probably all you need to know from me for now. Thank you for joining me and the rest of the Guardian crew today, and throughout the season. It’s been a belter.
And it’s Eugene Galekovic who receives the trophy from the FFA Chairman. He makes a little speech beforehand, referencing the perilous position of his team after round eight, and then joins his teammates on front of a perfect photo-op and hoists the golden toilet side into the air.
Campiones, campiones ole ole ole rings out as golden confetti spurts out over the players.
Adelaide’s players receiving their medals, Michael Marrone on crutches. Nikolai Topor-Stanley said a few words on behalf of his team. Poor bloke must be devastated. Simon Lowy looks a lot surer footed on the dais than his old man.
This one was never in doubt from the moment the Spaniard’s free kick sent Adelaide two-nil up. His performance was more than just one swing of the boot though. Defensively he was vital, intercepting, tackling, disrupting. Going forward he kept Adelaide in motion, albeit without their regular fluency.
It was gripping, breathless, and not according to script. Neither side really asserted their preferred playing style onto the match but a marvellous spectacle ensued regardless.
After two previous grand final defeats Adelaide United finally tasted victory courtesy of two moments of first half brilliance. The second, from Isaias, was the standout incident of the game.
Scenes of jubilation around Adelaide Oval. Delirious supporters, captain Eugene Galekovic in tears, leader Bruce Djite celebrating his special ‘family’.
Winnahs!!! #ALeagueGF #COYR #ADLvWSW @TheAdelaideOval pic.twitter.com/jL6VTppgms
Ladies and gentlemen, Adelaide United are your A-League champions.
92 min: Adelaide Oval is rocking now. Victory is secured. The premiers become champions. They were made to work in the second half but they rode their luck and fought back in style.
Game over! Pablo Sanchez seals it for Adelaide United. An unerring strike past Redmayne inside the box. There was nothing on until the substitute robbed Baccus on the edge of the penalty area, strode forward and smashed home the winner.
WATCH @AdelaideUnited BECOME 1ST TIME CHAMPIONS OF AUSTRALIA!Sanchez sealed the 3-1 epic victory #ALeagueGF #ADLvWSW https://t.co/zQ4Wj0pTGQ
90 min: A minimum of three minutes of added time to be played.
89 min: Kamau remains Adelaide’s outlet on the break and he’s run his socks off to help his team hem the Wanderers in towards the right-hand corner flag. NOt long left for the visitors now.
87 min: Mauk fires in a snapshot from the edge of the box that fizzes past Redmayne’s left-hand post. Wanderers still pressing, still on top, but Adelaide resisting.
Unreal atmosphere #ALeagueGF pic.twitter.com/Xy1IeWuJQX
85 min: Baccus has done well since he came on and his crisp through ball reaches Castelen and he forces a corner. Dimas takes it and Topor-Stanley thumps a good header goalwards that’s dealt with by the safe hands of Galekovic.
Pablo Sanchez replaces Marcelo Carrusca for Adelaide.
81 min: Dimas the latest Wanderer into the book, probably more for his explosive reaction to being adjudged to have fouled Goodwin. Another chance for Adelaide to break up the play.
It almost leads to a goal too as Carrusca whips in a cross that Redmayne struggles to deal with. Kamau then goes to ground far too easily again and the Wanderers escape.
79 min: Pressure relieving corner for Adelaide and Carrusca milks the clock to stem the flow. The header from the dangerous delivery flies behind. Final 10 minutes of a gripping game.
77 min: 88%-12% possession in favour of Western Sydney over the last five minutes. It hasn’t converted to goals yet though as another chance goes begging. This time Neville’s pullback trickles agonisingly through the Adelaide box.
Andreu off for Kearyn Baccus – second Wanderers substitution.
75 min: Adelaide can’t retain possession high up the field. Kamau the latest to be bullied off the ball. Consequently the ball keeps heading back at speed, carried by a man in white. Vidosic and Bridge are increasingly influential. Castelen is seeing plenty of the ball but he’s not been as penetrating as he was against Brisbane, so far…
73 min: Substitution for Adelaide. Elrich a more than handy replacement for the injured Marrone. Amor will presumably instruct the Socceroo to push his defence up the field. They are sliding further and further to wards Galekovic and inviting the Wanderers to attack them.
72 min: Proper cup tie stuff now. The crowd at fever pitch. Adelaide panicky in possession. Wanderers pressing. Glorious theatre.
70 min: Disallowed goal for Adelaide! Corner from the right leads to a scramble and the ball ricochets its way in but the linesman’s flag is up for offside. It looks debatable. Cirio adjudged to be offside and interfering with play while he was on the ground nearby Redmayne. Replays confirm a brilliant call from the assistant referee. It took eagle eyes and bravery to make that call, credit where it’s due.
69 min: Backs to the wall by Adelaide. One punch away from a knockout just 10 minutes ago, now they’re fighting to remain ahead.
Chances are coming at both ends though as the game stretches. Djite almost scores from a deep cross from the left but his header is repelled by Redmayne scrambling towards his far post. This is dynamic stuff now.
67 min: Another Wanderers attack leads to a half chance for Castelen and his volleyed effort forces a corner. Jamieson again can’t beat the first defender. Double forfeit for him for a second offence.
The full-back has a chance to redeem himself in open play but his first-time cross just eludes the leaping Santalab, the return ball finds Vidosic but he heads tamely towards Galekovic.
64 min: Vidosic is stationed on the left with Bridge occupying the number 10 role vacated by Nichols. The change has worked too with pockets of space opening up all over the place.
The space is also there for Adelaide too and Cirio exploits it, speeding towards the Wanderers’ penalty area only to be met with a sumptuous tackle from Alberto. think Bobby Moore versus Pele in the 1970 World Cup.
It’s a full house…
61’ | CROWD | It’s a massive Adelaide Oval crowd for the GF! 50,119 are watching this pulsating clash. 2-1 #ALeagueGF #BeautifulGame
61 min: Suddenly everything has changed. Wanderers are breaking through midfield at pace. Castelen the latest to fashion a chance. The energy levels have upped from the visitors and they’re somehow finding space where none could be located in the first half.
Here come @wswanderersfc! #ALeagueGF pic.twitter.com/MhGPikV12g
Wallop! Out of nowhere the Wanderers have one back. A small period of pressure sees Castelen and Santalab link up well on the right and feed Scott Neville to smash home his first goal for the club, arrowing one across Galekovic into the top corner.
The comeback is on again!
56 min: When Western Sydney look like mounting an attack a red shirt always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Both full-backs have made telling tackles and Isaias is shepherding everything at the base of midfield. It would take something special to deny the Spaniard the Joe Marston Medal you’d think.
Vidosic on – Nichols off. Popovic has made his first move (maybe he’s been reading this blog?).
54 min: The visitors are on the ropes. Adelaide are relentless. Attack after attack since half-time met with nervous clearances. Can United deliver the knockout blow?
52 min: Good example of Amor’s tactical success. Goodwin forcing Castelen to defend in his own corner, not once but twice, and eventually Djite spins in the box to fire in a shot that runs out for a corner. Not a great sign for Popovic if that head to head down the Western Sydney right is in such defensive territory.
Commentators in love with Adelaide Oval but it looks like the absolute worst place to watch with rectangular field. #ADLvWSW #ALeagueGF
49 min: During the interval the lights took hold at Adelaide Oval and the glare and shadows of the first half are no more.
All Adelaide in these opening exchanges, Redmayne forced into another save, this time from Cirio, after a good move down the right. Jamieson is unimpressed and whacks Isaias to become the third Wanderer in Gillett’s notebook.
47 min: No changes from either coach at the break.
The second period begins at a much more acceptable pace than the first. United take advantage and Mauk shoots from distance forcing a save from Redmayne.
Second half underway at Adelaide Oval.
Some half-time news for you. It appears the South Australian border does not screen for idiots.
Related: Western Sydney facing points deduction after flare lit at A-League grand final
I know you’re all thinking, “what would Howcroft do at half-time?” Well, funny you should ask.
If I was Amor, I’d do very little. I’d probably tell Mauk to sit closer to Isaias and not allow Western Sydney to overrun them in midfield.
By the way, if you’re following this along with the delayed coverage on SBS, welcome to the future. If only Australian broadcasting regulations would join us there.
I’ve still got #WSW ahead on inside 50s if that helps. #ALeagueGF @JPHowcroft
There’s only one stat that matters, and that’s the one on the glorious old scoreboard behind the goal Adelaide United found twice.
A decisive first half for Adelaide United. A feisty contest without much composure changed after 22 minutes when Kamau finished off Carrusca’s good work. One of the all-time grand final highlights followed 12 minutes later with Isaias’ free kick putting daylight between the best two teams in the A-League.
Wanderers have looked lively, getting behind United on a number of occasions but their final ball has been disappointing. Plenty for Popovic to think about during the interval.
45 min: What should Popovic do? And when?
He’ll welcome half-time and a chance to tell Castelen to be more direct. Again the winger dithers after he’d looked like he’d beaten his man.
43 min: The ball is hot again in midfield, neither side owning it for any length of time. When Adelaide do string passes together they look dangerous though, almost getting in behind Jamieson.
41 min: Chances for Adelaide. Isaias is starting to run the midfield and his trickery feeds Djite and his power creates space in the area but his cross fails to hit its target, Mauk shooting over from the clearance.
Andreu the second name in the book for a bad foul on Djite.
39 min: Wanderers are still creating half chances but their composure is letting them down, Castelen this time not appraising the situation effectively.
WOW! #ALeagueGF pic.twitter.com/ID0BjVfVYH
Spot on Phil…
@JPHowcroft The main difference for WSW this week is that Adelaide can actually defend
36 min: That was a strike befitting the venue and the occasion. Nothing Redmayne could do about it. Can the Wanderers get out of jail again? It will be much harder against the league’s best defence.
Well… We did it last week #WSW #ALeagueGF
Isaias steps up, wraps his right boot around the ball and sends it arcing over the wall, past the post, and into the side netting of Redmayne’s goal. Centimetre perfect from the Spaniard.
33 min: Kamau tripped on the edge of the D by Topor-Stanley. First yellow card of the game and a free-kick in a very dangerous situation.
31 min: Suggestions the ball’s bobbling a little on the Adelaide Oval surface. Not that Castelen seems to mind, dribbling with purpose past Goodwin and into the box. A corner results that again fails to beat the first man, Dimas the culprit.
An immediate corner is much better and loops to the edge of the six yard box in the centre of goal but Santalab can’t steer his stooping header on target. ONe of those chances that looks tough at full speed but wasteful in slow motion.
#ADLvWSW 1-0 Kamau 22′, first goal by an Adelaide team in a grand final since 1 May 1994 – exactly 22 years ago @aleague #ALeagueGF
29 min: It’s now Western Sydney that are attacking with speed, Adelaide more methodical in possession, defending their lead. The visitors look like creating chances when they break but the final ball has so far evaded their forward targets. Neither side really operating as you might have imagined pregame. Both midfields pressuring the six role, forcing the fullbacks to play the first release pass.
Brilliant play Carrusca, started the move & final delivery perfect – classy finish Kamau. Great atmosphere at the ground. #ALeagueGF
26 min: Chance for Wanderers! Excellent breakaway down the left and the cross just eludes the diving Santalab at the far post. This has livened up nicely in recent minutes.
Amor can feel satisfied with Kamau’s goal. Had he opted to select Elrich at left-back, Kamau would have been the likely started shuffled out.
24 min: An early home goal is perfect for the spectacle. The Wanderers were disrupting play successfully in the early exchanges, now they’ll have to commit to attacking.
By the way, that’s the second fastest grand final goal and just the sixth first-half effort in the decider.
Adelaide Oval erupts as Bruce Kamau opens the scoring. A lovely move down the left sees Carrusca in behind the Wanderers’ defence. His cross is perfectly timed for the onrushing Kamau to nip in front of his marker and steer past Redmayne.
22′ | GOALLLL BRUCE KAMAU! @chelocarrusca with way too much space down the left for a well-timed cross and finish. 1-0! #ADLvWSW #ALeagueGF
21 min: Corner to Wanderers now and a better set-piece finds Santalab who volleys acrobatically over the bar.
Who do we sing for?! #WSW pic.twitter.com/Lx36dsVS1i
19 min: Another unnecessary corner conceded, this time by Scott Jamieson. A dreadful short corner routine comes to nought though, despite some penalty area pinball from the second and third phase play.
Good refereeing from Gillett allows an advantage to the counterattacking Wanderers but Mark Bridge’s final ball fails to hit a target.
17 min: Wanderers will be the happier of the two sides so far. The broken nature of the midfield battle has denied United any time on the ball. They’re not going to suffer the same fate as Melbourne City.
15 min: Pinball in midfield pretty much the pattern of the opening quarter of an hour. This one still waiting for the adrenaline to ebb away and a real football match to materialise.
13 min: Some nervy defending from Adelaide gifts Western Sydney a corner but it doesn’t beat the first man. If I ruled the world that would be an immediate forfeit for the corner taker. Maybe ten press-ups, or being prevented from having their parting shaved into their head for the rest of the year.
12 min: Can we call a brace of Bruces, Bruci?
11 min: Adelaide attacking as quickly as they can, looking for both Bruces with long passes. One almost reaches Djite but Alberto manages to hook a despairing leg around the ball to clear.
8 min: This one hasn’t settled down yet. Lots of misplaced passes, poor control and plenty of physical contact. Both teams leaving boots in, throwing elbows around and making sure their presence is being felt. Needs a cool head or two to calm this one down.
6 min: First corner of the game goes to the home side and it’s a decent delivery from Carrusca that Redmayne does well to punch clear.
Santalab almost breaks the United offside trap. For the second time today Adelaide’s high line has looked vulnerable. Almost immediately afterwards Santalab clatters Sergio Cirio and receives a stern talking to. In twenty minutes that will be a booking.
4 min: First chance of the game goes to the away team and they butcher it. A counterattack ends with a three on two and Nichols in possession but he picks the wrong option in Castelen and his shot blazes over. Warning signs for the United back four.
2 min: If you’re interested in this sort of thing, Adelaide are kicking towards the Cathedral End, the one with the old scoreboard, which means the Wanderers are attacking the Bradman Stand end.
The pitch is partly in shadow, particularly the right-back region of the Wanderers’ half of the pitch. There is the potential for the low sun to be an issue for the goalkeepers.
Jarred Gillett’s whistle pierces the air and heralds the final kick off of the A-League season.
What an occasion #ALeagueGF pic.twitter.com/MoO160TsRm
Bonnie Anderson with the national anthem – and it’s a solid, unfussy, a cappella affair. It ends, of course, with a huge roar from the crowd.
Just a couple of minutes away from kick-off at Adelaide Oval and it is an impressive scene. A beautiful stadium packed to the rafters with plenty of away fans contributing to the atmosphere.
As you’d expect, United are in all red with a yellow trim, Wanderers in their away kit of white shirts, black shorts and white socks.
OK, time to put my reputation on the line…
I’m tipping Adelaide United 1-0 with a second-half winner. Stefan Mauk to win the Joe Marston Medal.
Where do you think the grand final will be won and lost? Here’s a selection of areas I’ll be looking out for.
Adelaide oval looks and sounds tremendous! #ALeagueGF #sbsaleague pic.twitter.com/G9g5qiqkop
Conditions are perfect for football in Adelaide today. The sun is shining, the temperature will be around 18C throughout and the light westerly breeze will die down after kick off.
Football posts in front of that famous, beautiful scoreboard. Feels right. #ALeagueGF pic.twitter.com/9GNcnSlGrH
Grand final stat attack:
Less than an hour to go. It’s the (grand) final countdown.
Your referee today is Jarred Gillett.
So this is Autumn in Adelaide. ⚽️ #ALeagueGF pic.twitter.com/bPUgX3spv5
Tony Popovic is also sticking with a winning formula, backing the XI that did the business against Brisbane Roar. That means injury doubts over Mitch Nichols have been allayed and semi-final hero Dario Vidosic will have to make do with a place on the bench.
Bench: Liam Reddy (GK), Brendan Hamill, Kearyn Baccus, Shannon Cole, Dario Vidosic #WSW #ALGrandFinal
No news is good news for Adelaide United with the home side unchanged for the fifth match in row. Arguably the only decision Guillermo Amor had to make was over Tarek Elrich’s involvement at left-back but a winning team has not been tinkered with.
Structurally this should play out as a 4-1-1-1-3 with Stefan Mauk linking Isaias and Marcello Carrusca in midfield.
#AUFC SUBS: Pablo Sanchez, Mells, Hall (RGK), Elrich, Elsey #ADLvWSW #ALeagueGF #ForeverUnited
Remember, this is more fun for everyone when you join in and interrupt my rambling stream of consciousness. Dropping me a line on Twitter – @JPHowcroft – is the easiest way to see your thoughts in print. If you require more than 140 characters, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Western Sydney Wanderers kicked off the 2015-16 A-League season way back on a Thursday night in early October. They lost 3-1 at home to Brisbane Roar. The following evening Adelaide United hosted Melbourne Victory in a forgettable 0-0 draw. Twenty-six rounds and four playoff matches later the best two teams in the competition will go head to head to decide this year’s champions.
If you have a confident prediction for who’s going to leave Adelaide Oval with the toilet seat, you’re either clairvoyant or bluffing. It’s hard to imagine a match-up of professional football teams anywhere in the world being this close. All three matches between the pair this season have ended in draws, the most recent two goalless ones. Historically the record is even too with four wins apiece, balanced by four draws. In their 28 games both have scored 49 goals. They were separated on the ladder by just one point.
Hey ho, let’s go!
JP Howcroft will be with you shortly but in the meantime, check out David Squires’ grand final preview cartoon. It’s another screamer.
Related: David Squires on … the 2016 A-League grand final