Adelaide City: Knockout Kings

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The following is an excerpt from Football Central’s upcoming book which profiles and studies the most influential clubs in Australian football history. One of those clubs is Adelaide City, and this passage tells the story of their third National Soccer League Grand Final triumph at the culmination of the 1993/94 season.

City followed up back-to-back Grand Finals by reaching yet another in the 1993/94 season. Finishing fifth on the table, Matic’s men had to get there the hard way. They lost the first leg of their elimination final with Sydney United 1-0, only to come back and win the return leg 2-0, with Mori scoring the winner. City then exacted a semblance of revenge for their Grand Final defeat the season before, beating Marconi Fairfield 3-1 in the semi finals with Mori, Joe Mullen and Brad Hassell on the scoresheet. City met South Melbourne in the preliminary final for the third season in a row, and yet again City won the match by two goals. Second half strikes from Tony Vidmar and Brad Hassell gave the Black and Whites a 2-0 win, meaning they would face Melbourne Knights in the Grand Final for the second time in three seasons.

The game began with Knights on top and Mori, playing against his former side, was deservedly booked for a late challenge that was the definitive striker’s tackle. The Knights had vigorous appeals for a penalty turned down after believing a City player had handled inside the area. City were lacking precision with their final pass and were unable to create much, with clear cut opportunities few and far between. The NSL’s top scorer, under 21 player of the year and Johnny Warren Medal winner, Knights’ Mark Viduka, was clinically marked out of the game by Alex Tobin and Milan Ivanovic whose efforts greatly reduced his impact on the game.

In the 68th minute, City hit the lead. The goal came from absolutely nothing, with Mori receiving the ball on the flank inside his own half. He drove forward and cut infield before letting fly from 30 metres out. The ball veered wildly into the net and left Knights keeper David Miller without a prayer. In the book of clichés, it was a goal that was fit to win any game, let alone a Grand Final. And that is exactly what it had done. City held on despite a late charge from the Knights to win 1-0 and claim their third NSL Championship, and their second in three seasons. Alex Tobin received his second Joe Marston Medal as man of the match for his commanding performance in the decider. City had once again shown their knockout football expertise, finishing third (in the Southern Conference), fourth and fifth in their three championship winning seasons.

Andrew Cussen

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