The Adelaide United Youth Team has defeated Perth Glory’s Youth 2-1 to claim the Foxtel National Youth League (NYL) Conference A Premiership at the Elite Systems Football Centre.
Goals from Riley McGree and Jordan O’Doherty were enough to sink the Glory and claim a finals berth for the Reds in the new format of the NYL, which will see United face-off against the winners of Conference B.
The match starting at a fast pace, but it was Adelaide who were the more dominant of the two, using the wings well to open up the Glory defence. However, it was youngster Riley Mcgree who scored his first NYL goal, as some quick feet from Yiannis Nestoras allowed him to elude two Glory defenders and cross a low driven ball into Mcgree who had the easiest of tasks in slotting the ball into the back of the net.
Sensing their opposition’s backs were against the wall, the Young Reds gathered more momentum, which led to their second goal just on the 15 minute mark.
A trademark Oliver Zafridis corner went deep into the box and fell into the path of Jordan O’Doherty who directed his header into the top right corner, giving Glory custodian, Jordan Thurtell, no chance.
Being two goals down and under a mountain of pressure, Glory’s Youth woke from their early-game slumber and found some much needed creativity and drive, eventually scoring a well-worked goal through Cameron Teece.
After the break, United once again started the more composed and pushed the ball around well within their front third. This caused Perth to being absorbing the Adelaide attacks, as they looked only to exploit the Reds on the counter.
In the 64th minute, a clearance from the Perth Glory allowed Alexandar Tanevski to try an audacious chip over United ‘keeper, Daniel Margush, however Tanevski was denied by the crossbar.
Tempers soon began to flare as the match’s intensity steadily increased, with rash challenges being made by both sides in desperation of getting a result.
Zafridis came close to putting the result to bed near the end of full-time when his curling effort went just wide of the post, but Adelaide managed to hold onto their slender advantage and claim the three points and their first spot in the NYL Grand Final.
Head Coach of the Young Reds, Michael Valkanis, expressed his delight in how well his side battled throughout the campaign, but insisted the Final is yet to be won and all focus now shifts to it.
“We are very happy,” Valkanis said. “Our goal at the start was to be a threat to other sides and I think we have done that throughout the competition.
“I knew going into Conference A, it was always going to be difficult because of the nature and calibre of the teams in it.
“But we rallied together and to not only win the NPL State League (last season) but also claim top spot in the National Youth League is something special.
“Overall, we are a family and the only way you’re going to have success is if your team is tightly knit and we are definitely very close and that’s what we need to keep working on in order to win this final in a couple of weeks time.”