SA youngsters provide glimpse of the future


There may have been nothing riding on the result in terms of a top six for the Reds in their last game of the season, but for three young local players, it meant a whole lot.

There may have been nothing riding on the result in terms of a top six for the Reds in their last game of the season, but for three young local players, it meant a whole lot.

Gold Coast United did it when their chances of making the finals all but extinguished, and dare mention an oval ball football code – it has also been highly prevalent amongst AFL clubs when any chance of a finals berth is gone. Blooding youngsters and exposing them on the big stage towards the end of a season when finals are out the question has become common practise in modern times among football codes.

Fronting up for a third game in a week and with no chance of finishing any higher than ninth, Coach John Kosmina used the Reds- Hyundai A-League season finale against Melbourne Heart as a chance to possibly see what a bit of the future might look like.

The Reds coach gave debut starts to both Jacob Melling and Evan Kostopoulos, while Liam Wooding played the entirety of the second half in his first appearance in the senior team.

The trio are all young men born and bred in Adelaide, their time in the spotlight giving Kosmina a chance to see what they are made of, and Reds fans a first hand look at the calibre of the local talent coming through.

“You-ve got to look what you can get out of the kids for the future,” Kosmina said following the Heart clash.

“Evan Kostopoulos played 90 minutes and he still had plenty of run in his legs and he-ll get better as he gets more experience.”

“Liam Wooding has only just started training with us in the last few weeks, he-s been out for the past couple of months with injuries, so that was the first time he-s been on the bench let alone on the field, so from that perspective it was good.”

“And Jacob Melling, he-s had his chances off the bench but it was his first start and I think he did really well until he cramped.”

Melling, who turns 17 on April 4, is the youngest of the trio but the only one to already be on the Reds- senior list. Since his contract began on January 1, Melling has made nine Hyundai A-League appearances and possesses an on field maturity beyond his years. Having spent the majority of his junior years at Modbury Jets Soccer Club, Melling has represented Australia at Under 17 level.

Kostopoulos, the eldest of the three at 21, has been in United-s Youth system for the past three years and was the Reds- Youth Team-s top goal scorer in the 2010/11 National Youth League season. The striker first started playing at West Adelaide before moving on to Croydon and then Adelaide Comets getting his chance with United-s Youth squad.

Wooding, 18, has had to overcome a string of frustrating injuries on his way to getting his first senior game. But patience and persistence brought his reward, as he was included the Reds- AFC Champions League squad and given himself a shot of possibly making something out of playing football.

Further to these three, goalkeeper Paul Izzo is another that can be thrown into the same hat. A highly regarded keeper and future prospect for Australian football, fans are yet to see a lot of Izzo in action, but just as it was when Mark Birighitti first came to the Reds, Izzo is marked down as having the potential to become just as good.

The appearance of these fresh faces strengthens the Reds- South Australian flavour, which currently already comprises of Osama Malik, Daniel Mullen and Fabian Barbiero.