Essendon players celebrate a goal during round six, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

A LATE Nic Martin long bomb has given Essendon a comeback three-point win against Adelaide in a thriller.

Martin launched from 55m on the run for the final goal as the Bombers prevailed 10.18 (78) to 11.9 (75) at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.

Essendon climbs into the top eight with a fourth win of the season but the Crows remain in the mire with one win and five losses.


Martin's strike with about eight minutes left put the visitors six points up.

The Bombers then held on bravely despite a series of Adelaide attacks.

CROWS v BOMBERS Full match coverage and stats

Essendon skipper Zach Merrett was a standout with 28 disposals, seven clearances and a crucial last-term goal while Jade Gresham (26 touches) was also busy.

Martin capped his influential 27-disposal display with the late game-breaker while Harrison Jones and Kyle Langford had two goals each.


Adelaide's Jake Soligo continued his breakout form in the midfield with 31 disposals, 10 clearances and a goal.

His captain Jordan Dawson was superb with 31 touches, two goals and nine tackles while backman Mitch Hinge (25 possessions) had patches of influence.

The Bombers started brightly and held a slight edge at quarter-time, 2.4 to 2.2.

Essendon's early efforts were largely built by skipper Merrett, who dominated the opening term with 13 disposals and four clearances.


The visitors then cashed in with three consecutive goals, and when Jake Stringer snapped accurately they held a 22 point lead.

But Adelaide clawed its way back in to the contest with captain Dawson scoring two of the Crows' three unanswered goals.

Crow Darcy Fogarty had a shot after the halftime siren to level scores but missed with Essendon, holding a 31-16 inside 50 advantage, up 5.9 to 5.4 at the long break.

The third quarter swung wildly, with Fogarty triggering a four-goal burst in nine minutes.


Adelaide's scoring spurt created a 19-point lead but just when the Bombers appeared down and almost out, they rallied.

The ever-lively Jones snared his second goal and his dangerous teammate Langford then scored two late majors - his set-shot on the siren gave the Bombers a three-point buffer.

Essendon crept five points up until the 10th minute of the last quarter when Adelaide's Ben Keays goaled after a free kick to give the home side a one-point lead.

Crow livewire Izak Rankine soon produced a snap from heavy traffic which bounced through for a seven-point break with 12 minutes left.

The Bombers' inspirational Merrett answered his team's predicament, swooping on a loose ball and converting to again reduce the margin before Martin's long-range conversion gave the visitors enough breathing space.

Fun on the run
For a patch across the second and third quarters, the Crows looked on. Playing with flair and dare, they sliced and diced the Bombers, looking inside and hitting targets with ease. While it ultimately may not have proved enough to get Adelaide over the line, it got them pretty close and showed what this young team is capable of.


A match made up of moments
When a game is on the line, it's the little moments that matter. And making the most of an opportunity can be the difference between a win and a loss. Nic Martin's long bomb was one such moment, and his strike made him a match-winner, but the Crows also had plenty of opportunities of their own in the final few minutes but couldn't kick truly. 

Controversial non-call
The match ended in controversial scenes when an impassioned Adelaide plea for a holding-the-ball free kick with a mere three seconds on the clock was unsuccessful. In a mad scramble for the footy 30m out from Adelaide's goal, the ball ended up underneath Essendon's Sam Draper, with Crows players convinced he'd dived on top of it. The umpires ultimately didn't agree and didn't blow the whistle, leaving the Bombers with the win.


ADELAIDE    2.2    5.4    9.5      11.9 (75)
ESSENDON  2.4    5.9    8.14    10.18 (78)

Dawson 2, Keays 2, Walker, Jones, Fogarty, Soligo, Rachele, McHenry, Rankine
Essendon: Jones 2, Langford 2, Gresham, Parish, Hobbs, Stringer, Merrett, Martin

Dawson, Soligo, Hinge, O'Brien, Rachele
Essendon: Merrett, Martin, Caldwell, Hobbs, Gresham

Essendon: None

Adelaide: Lachlan Sholl (replaced Sam Berry in the third quarter)
Essendon: Elijah Tsatas (replaced Nick Hind in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 46,700 at Adelaide Oval