In the first game of ‘Flood Relief Round’, it was a downpour of a different kind at Hindmarsh Stadium as the Reds eclipsed the record for the most number of goals scored in a Hyundai A-League game, the previous mark having stood at six.
The extraordinary score line saw Sergio van Dijk and Marcos Flores both score hat tricks, while captain Travis Dodd and Iain Ramsay also found the back of the net as the Reds warmed up for next Saturday night’s crunch game against the Central Coast Mariners in a match that will go a long way to deciding which team will finish in the top two.
Head Coach Rini Coolen was admittedly delighted by his team’s killer instinct ahead of telling matches against the other contenders for second spot, the seven goal winning margin lifting United above the Mariners on goal defence.
“For us the most important thing was that we had five important games to go knowing that the Central Coast and Gold Coast are the next games, but the most important game was (Friday) and everything had to be done to get three points,” Coolen said.
The only blemish on an otherwise unforgettable night came in the 72nd minute when Panagiotis Nikas found a way past Eugene Galekovic with a well directed shot from the edge of the penalty area. Disappointed not to keep a clean sheet, Coolen said it highlighted that the Reds still needed to make further improvement.
Facing a side that were without a win in seven games, it took just four minutes for the Reds to unlock the Fury defence as van Dijk had time to look up and pick out Flores between two defenders, the Argentinean beating Justin Pasfield with his header. It proved a sign of things to come but it was not before North Queensland enjoyed a dominant period as the Reds flirted with danger and were fortunate not to concede in the 14th minute as David Williams pounced, but he sent his sliding effort over the bar.
But the home side arrested the momentum back in the 28th minute when Flores exposed a sizeable gap in the Fury defence as he threaded a pass to Dodd, who convincingly side footed the ball past a helpless Pasfield.
Less than 10 minutes later Dodd then returned the favour as he got rid of Andre Kilian and Eric Okoko in a tantalising run before laying the ball across for a charging Flores to smash home his second and put the Reds 3-nil up.
The Reds’ number 10 was at it again as he put another sublime through ball in front of Dodd, who was too quick for Kilian, and while Pasfield managed to keep the skipper’s shot out, it fell into the path of Ramsay who buried the chance from close range.
Substitute Lorenzo Sipi provided a spark for the Fury but there would be no stopping the Reds and van Dijk as he produced a clinical finish from yet another brilliant dissecting Flores pass to send chants of ‘United’ ringing around the stadium.
The loudest cheer of the night came when Mathew Leckie was introduced with 15 minutes to go, the 19 year old making his first appearance since injuring his knee in October, and he almost made it a return to remember when he flashed a left footed drive at goal just wide of the post.
Van Dijk was on the spot again after yet another fine Reds build up to break the record as the home side made it seven before Flores’ glancing header from a Paul Reid free kick in the 89th minute completed the rout.
While the Reds can feel satisfied to have put the struggling Fury away, the know getting past the Mariners next Saturday night will be an entirely different proposition. Tickets for the match against the Central Coast are available through Ticketek