Adelaide rewarded after youngsters dazzle in clinical display

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A youthful Adelaide United have continued their strong run of form, making it nine matches unbeaten in a row in the league against a poor Newcastle Jets side at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The opening minutes saw an even contest play out, with both teams enjoying dangerous bouts of possession. It was Craig Goodwin who would open the scoring in the 12th minute, capitalising on a fortunate rebound after his first shot was cleared.

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With his second chance he was able to shift the ball onto his favoured left foot, and was given the space by an onlooking Newcastle defence to unleash into the right corner of the goal.

Goodwin then turned provider just two minutes later, getting beyond the Jet’s defence before playing a simple ball across to Zach Clough who slotted home.

Jason Hoffman then produced a moment of magic up the other end, with a powerful strike from outside the box finding its way past the in-form Joe Gauci. Three goals in the space of four minutes seemed like an unsustainable pace for the match, but there was more to come.

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Goodwin was involved again in Adelaide’s next goal, setting up Luka Jovanovic for his first professional goal in the A-Leagues. Angus Thurgate then brought the deficit back down to one deep into first half stoppage time.

The second half saw much less action than the first, however the goal that was scored could turn out to be career-defining for one of Australia’s brightest prospects, who is beginning to captivate the imagination of fans from all over Australia and beyond.

Super-sub Nestory Irankunda sealed the points for the away side by thrashing his shot past the hapless Jack Duncan in what is quickly becoming trademark fashion. This took the wind out of the Jet’s sails and the rest of the match was comfortably seen out by Adelaide.

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A key theme in Adelaide’s recent run of form has been their trust in giving young players important minutes on the pitch. Tonight’s game amplified this message, with two 17-year-olds getting on the score sheet in Jovanovic and Irankunda.

Adelaide head coach Carl Veart says he shares the club’s ambition in giving opportunities to youngsters and is glad to see the rewards in the way of results.

“It’s a principle of the club, and the way that I want to coach as well having spent so many years in the youth programs.

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“Sometimes we can be scared to give young players opportunities, but they don’t let you down.”

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Adelaide have always set an example in the league with their youth development, with the likes of Riley McGree, Mohammed Toure, and Yaya Dukuly all making their way to Europe after impressing at a young age for the South Australian side.

This season, the reward for this trust is more evident than ever, reclaiming second spot on the ladder and applying plenty of pressure to the league-leaders Melbourne City after their latest victory. Veart singles out wonderkid Irankunda, who has been in scintillating form this year and in his last few appearances off the bench specifically.

“I just love watching him play, I think everyone does.

“He does things that no one else can do.”

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Managing Irankunda’s minutes will be the next challenge Veart faces. Nestor has only been relied upon from the bench this season, but that hasn’t limited his goal contributions in the slightest with three goals in his last three games.

Averaging only 27 minutes per game he appears in this season, his output looks to be reminiscent of fellow wonderkid and former Central Coast Mariners star Garang Kuol, recording a goal or assist every 58 minutes in which he’s on the park.

“He’s 17, he’s still got a long way to go, but he’s heading in the right direction.” Veart says.

“Nestor is building, he’s getting more minutes, and hopefully we can consider starting him soon.”

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A first professional start looks increasingly likely for the young star in Adelaide’s next fixture against Wellington Phoenix, as fellow winger Ben Halloran picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and will miss the match due to suspension.

Halloran also came off at half time with what seemed to be the reoccurrence of a pre-existing shoulder injury.

“He’s been playing under duress for the last couple of weeks.

“He’ll have a couple of weeks break with the suspension next week as well.” Veart said on Halloran’s availability.

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Irankunda can establish himself as an elite youth prospect and put himself on the radar of European clubs who will be eager to secure his signature when he turns 18 at the beginning of next year. The sky is the limit for the youngster currently, and these next few games will be vital in displaying his full potential if he is given the chance to start.

If he doesn’t get the opportunity to start, he will still play key role off the bench in Adelaide’s finals campaign which is all but secured with their current points tally.

Feature Image Credit: Jordan Trombetta

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Will Booth
Will Boothhttp://willbooth.au
Business and Sport Management student at WSU. Interest in Data analysis. Covering the Newcastle Jets ALM and ALW teams for the 2022/23 season.

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