The Pirate Reserves have become the standout side in April, recording their third win in as many matches sealed beautifully by a Jayden Upton hat-trick.
There was no shortage of quality in the game as the Pirates raced into an early lead thanks to Shohei Misawa meeting a Joe Arman cross. It was a bullet header from the Japanese striker, now in his second season with the club. Sturt had a dangerous spell midway through the first half but the rigid partnership of Patty Henry and Alex McNeish stood firm, making two crucial tackles in the area to preserve the lead. Their efforts were rewarded by Jayden Upton at the other end who found the net, with his first of the day, when he caught out the Sturt defence with a neat finish. As soon as the second goal went in, Sturt began to fall away and fell victim to a corker of a strike from Tommy Donnelly which found the right corner of the goal from 25 yards out.
It was a welcome return to action for Patrick De Silva who has been missing through a foot fracture. He was unfortunate not to have found the net twice in as many minutes but he could be excused for being a little rusty in front of goal. However, there were no such problems for Jayden Upton whose scoring run continued when he pounced on a rebound from a De Silva strike to make it 4-0. There appeared to be no time left for Upton to find his hat-trick, but with the last kick (or rather head) of the game he secured a third goal when he glanced the ball past the desperate dive of the Sturt keeper.
After a successful 5-2 win over Adelaide Victory last week, the reserves recorded a second consecutive win to reignite their 2017 campaign. Still making his way back from a shoulder injury, Lachie Murray proved a handful down the right hand side in the early parts of the first half. Together, with Jayden Upton, they were able to mount serious chances on the Salisbury goal, and it was the right sided combination that earned the team a free kick midway through the first half. Tommy Connelly was able to make the most of it when his curling ball was initially met by Joe Hutchinson but bounced around the penalty area before finding the feet of James Wallace who was clinical in dispatching the ball past the keeper. Moments later, midfielder Joe Arman had a glorious chance to double the lead when he pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the 18 yard box. However his shot lacked accuracy and fell just wide. Salisbury recorded few chances of note in the first half as Finn Murphy was enjoying a relatively quiet afternoon. Yet, the elusive clean sheet that the reserves have been looking for would not become a reality when a neat Salisbury move drew them level early in the second half.
The game was set to change, though, as Pirates introduced Darian Kurbatfinski. For the second time in the game, Tommy Connelly used his left foot to perfection, finding the run of Kurbatfinski who was able to remain composed and help Pirates regain the lead. Not long after the goal, Kurbatfinski was sent off for retaliation when he came off second best from a dangerous tackle. This in turn put serious pressure on an otherwise cool performance from the reserves. They would have Patty Henry to thank as he cleared off the line at the end of the match, helping the reserves clinch an important three points as the middle part of the season takes shape.
The reserves also ended a losing streak with a 2-2 draw against Cove themselves. The common trend that has developed for the reserves this season is that they start games very well. That trend continued on Saturday, when a set piece delivery by Zavaglia was met at the back post by Michael Stefanidis to make it 1-0. Unfortunately, Pirates couldn’t hold on until half time, conceding in the 41st minute after a scrappy goal. After half time, it seemed as if the Cove were going to get the three points when they turned in a second on the hour mark. However, luck was shining on Port when a cross come shot from Jacob McDonald found its way into the back of the net for 2-2. Similarly to the seniors’ game, both sides had equal opportunity to get the three points but couldn’t make it count in the end.
Goals were the order of the day at Carnegie Reserve, however, not in the favour of Port Pirates reserves.
In an eventful first half, Pirates took the lead when Jackson Dayee pounced on a loose ball inside the area before taking the ball around the keeper and finishing in an empty net. Goalkeeper Reed Kaluza became the busiest man on the park after Pirates took the lead, first saving a penalty from Jacob Lavery before making another save from close range. He was eventually beaten, though, when Strikers were able to make the most of a scrappy build up, and then, took the lead through a wonderful effort which Kaluza could do nothing about.
Determined to restore clarity, Pirates pushed in search of a second and found it through Joe Hutchinson who shot low and hard giving the man on the line no chance of clearing. Then, on the stroke of half time, Tyson Adams rose like a salmon to head home from a Matteo Bordin cross to make it 3-2 for Port.
However, much like last week at Noarlunga, the Reserves found themselves being out fought in the second half and went on to concede another penalty which was converted by Allison before conceding two more in quick succession to give Western Strikers a hard fought 5-3 win.
Noarlunga United 3 - 0 Pirates
It was a niggly affair between the two reserve sides at Wilfred Taylor Reserve but that didn’t stop Noarlunga from taking home the three points in an end to end second half. The first half was a rugged battle with tempers flaring between the players, particularly Matteo Bordin who was involved in a scuffle with his opposite number. On another day, Pirates may have made the most of the chances they had, but it was Noarlunga who had the prolific touch in front of goal, netting home the first early in the second half. A magnificent header was then cleared off the line by Noarlunga as Pirates looked for an equaliser but instead were on the receiving end of two quick goals which made defeat inevitable.
PIRATES 0 V 0 SOUTH ADELAIDE
Star player: Finn Murphy
A rather uneventful game between Pirates and South Adelaide reserves ended 0-0 at John Hart Reserve. A tight, physical encounter saw both sides have chances in front of goal but it was a late save and subsequent goal line clearance from Finn Murphy and Joe Hutchinson that kept Pirates from losing the game.
Starting line up
1 - Finn Murphy
2 - James Wallace
20 - Jacob Searles
4 - Patty Henry
3 - Alex McNeish
18 - Lachlan Murray
16 - Joe Arman
8 - Jackson Dayee
9 - Darien Kurbatfinski
10 - Tyson Adams
5 - Matteo Bordin
12 - Joe Hutchinson
14 - Tommy Connelly
Substitutes not used
7 - Jayden Upton
Address: John Hart Reserve, Swan Tce