Adelaide United striker George Blackwood celebrates his late winner for the Reds against Central Coast Mariners. Picture: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images
Adelaide United striker George Blackwood celebrates his late winner for the Reds against Central Coast Mariners. Picture: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

Blackwood ready to silence Reds striker debate

George Blackwood is ready to silence the debate over Adelaide United's need for a new striker with more goals.

The forward showed his injury nightmare was firmly behind him by coming off the bench to score the Reds' stoppage-time winner against Central Coast on Sunday.

Blackwood insisted his shushing celebration was directed at the Mariners fans who had taunted him while warming up, rather than a reference to those calling for attacking recruits.

But he said his instinctive 92nd minute strike demonstrated he was primed to nail down the No. 9 spot, whether the club added reinforcements during the January transfer window or not.

 

 

Adelaide United striker George Blackwood celebrates his late winner for the Reds against Central Coast Mariners. Picture: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images
Adelaide United striker George Blackwood celebrates his late winner for the Reds against Central Coast Mariners. Picture: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

 

"It's an awesome feeling, especially with not long to go," said Blackwood, of his sixth goal in 31 matches since joining the Reds in 2017.

"I knew it (goal) was going to come, I just needed to get back into things.

"If I'm coming off the bench and making an impact, then that's what I'll do.

"If I'm starting, then I'll do my best to build a good run of games and get fit.

"Obviously the coach makes the final (transfer) decisions.

"But we've got a bunch of really strong players.

"We've got a lot of attackers and we've got a lot of quality."

Blackwood's last-gasp header from Scott Galloway's cross handed Adelaide a valuable victory, after it trailed to Andrew Hoole's stunning first-half opener for the visitors.

It was the NSW-born forward's first A-League goal since overcoming a fractured tibia in pre-season and a broken collarbone sustained just 36 minutes into his comeback match in October.

Blackwood said hitting the net had given him the belief to push for more game time in the continued absence of injured front men Baba Diawara and Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.

"Obviously match fitness for me is a big thing," Blackwood, 21, said.

"I had the first injury and I didn't get fully match fit and then I got injured again.

"That's tough, but the goals will come, I know they'll come.

"I just need to get a run of games. That's the only way I'm going to get fit."

George Blackwood has scored six goals in 31 games since joining Adelaide United in 2017. Picture: AAP Image/Brendon Thorne
George Blackwood has scored six goals in 31 games since joining Adelaide United in 2017. Picture: AAP Image/Brendon Thorne

The dramatic triumph lifted United to within one point of the top four ahead of Saturday's home clash with Brisbane Roar.

Blackwood said it highlighted the character which had helped his side record just one loss in a hectic eight-game stretch since Christmas.

"The team always believes it's going to win," the ex-Sydney FC talent said. "We always knew we could come back and win that (Mariners) game.

"But you need to create more than one or two chances to score one or two goals.

"That's what we did in the end and we got the result.

"We're one point behind the top four, so it's definitely within our reach.

"It's another huge game against Brisbane and we need to put out best foot forward and pick up the three points again at home."

Adelaide expected to be boosted by the return of Mirko Boland this week. The midfielder travelled to his native Germany following the death of his father.