Birighitti proves a more than capable backup

Mark Birighitti’s performances between the posts in the Reds’ last three games has accentuated that Adelaide United’s last line of defence is in very safe hands.

Mark Birighitti-s performances between the posts in the Reds- last three games has accentuated that Adelaide United-s last line of defence is in very safe hands.

Birighitti still may only being 19 years of age with just three Hyundai A-League appearances to his name, but Head Coach Rini Coolen had no qualms giving him the responsibility between the posts for three of the club-s huge games as first choice keeper Eugene Galekovic was given time to recover from a wrist injury.

Sydney FC at the Adelaide Oval, a top of the table clash against Brisbane Roar and an encounter against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park – the games do not come much bigger. Impressively, the Reds recorded two wins and conceded just two goals, one of which came in the dying seconds against the Victory when the game was well and truly decided.

“It was a good experience playing against three really good teams,” Birighitti said reflecting on the experience.

“It has been over two years since I played my last senior game, and to come in and play three big games, winning two of them and only conceding two goals was a pretty good effort.”

The game against Sydney FC was Birighitti-s first in the Hyundai A-League since October 31, 2008. Determined to make the most of this rare chance to impress, the Perth born keeper did not disappoint. While admitting it took him some time to settle from the hype of the occasion, Birighitti came away with a clean sheet and the confidence of someone who had played every game this season.

“In the first game I was nervous but when I got that first touch of the ball it set me up for the rest of the game,” Birighitti said.

“When you go into big games like that you-re always going to be a little bit nervous and in the second half I spilt the ball but managed to grab it on the second attempt. I think that just comes down to rustiness and not having played a senior game for a long time.”

A narrow 1-0 loss to Brisbane Roar followed before a trip to Melbourne. If the pressure of being the opposition keeper at a parochial AAMI Park and trying to put an end to a 10 game losing streak against the Victory was not enough, Birighitti revealed he also had to deal with a laser being pointed into his eyes from somewhere in the stand throughout the first half.

“I had a green laser shining in my eye and that was tough to deal with. I spoke to the referee at half time and told them the situation,” Birighitti said.

“I had to deal with that and some abuse from the crowd behind me, but that-s football, you get that and I was just happy we got the three points.”

Birighitti knew it was only going to be a three game stint before Galekovic returned, and while no player wants to relinquish their spot, he is more than content to make way for the reigning Hyundai A-League Goalkeeper of the Year to resume.

“Before the three games Rini told me Eugene was coming back after the three games and now I-ll just step aside and keep working hard, and at least Rini has faith in knowing that if something happens to Eugene he can rely on me to come in,” Birighitti said.

“Eugene will be back next week and now it-s up to me to keep working hard in training and when I do get the opportunity again, to make sure I take it with both hands again.”

“Everyone knows what a top class keeper Eugene is and for me to come in for three important games like that and do well, I was lucky to have Eugene there supporting me through it and him and Blaza (goalkeeper coach Peter Blazincic) have helped me a lot, so they were big shoes to fill, but at the end of the day I think I did an ok job and what-s best for the team so I-m happy with that.”