What We’re Talking About: Young gun living the dream

What We’re Talking About – Round Four: From a supporter in the terraces to scoring the winning goal in the Original Rivalry: Nishan Velupillay is living out the fantasy of every young fan of clubs from around the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Nishan Velupillay’s match-winning Original Rivalry goal in a hostile clash between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United on Saturday night was the stuff of dreams for the lifelong Victory fan.

It’s the kind of storyline bound to become more commonplace as the passing of time sees the league’s history enriched by the kids who grow into the boots of their heroes from seasons gone by.

Velupillay put the finish on a brilliant Melbourne Victory move, benefiting from a well-weighted Robbie Kruse pass across the goal face to put his side back on top in a 2-1 Original Rivalry win over the Reds.

The 20-year-old’s breakout moment at senior level in Victory colours is the latest showcase of a young talent rising through club ranks to feature in the Isuzu UTE A-League, transitioning from a fan watching on in the stands to a member of the senior squad creating priceless memories for a new generation of young supporters to cherish.

The most prominent example in the Isuzu UTE A-League to date is that of Stefan Colakovski, the former Melbourne City member whose development through the club’s academy saw him go on to score one goal and assist another in City’s 2-0 semi-final triumph over Adelaide United last season.

Both Colakovski and Velupillay will now prepare to face off in Round 5, with champions City looking to jump above the high-flying Victory on the Isuzu UTE A-League table in an unmissable Melbourne Derby clash on Saturday, December 18.

Whilst one Victory youngster stole the show in Round 4’s Original Rivalry, it was Central Coast Mariner’s brigade of academy graduates who made their presence felt in a 2-0 win over Sydney FC on Sunday afternoon.

Overseas imports Marco Ureña and Moresche made the impact on the scoresheet, with the former scoring the opening goal and the latter pressuring Anthony Caceres into conceding an own goal just three minutes later in a blistering first-half display from the Mariners.

But complementing the class of international recruits were the homegrown members of the Central Coast squad. The injection of Max Balard and Matthew Hatch into action off the bench late in the second half took the number of Mariners academy graduates on the field to seven as the Gosford side cruised to a 2-0 win over the Sky Blues. 

Club captain and academy product Oli Bozanic was the beating heart in a Mariners lineup which seemed to have all the answers against a Sydney outfit now winless after four games.

Another side with a new complexion flying out of the blocks in 2021/22 is Arthur Papas’ Jets, who rolled to a 4-0 win over Wellington Phoenix on Friday night.

The Jets had three different goalscorers and four different goal providers in Round 4, with Beka Mikeltadze’s brace and Daniel Penha’s debut Isuzu UTE A-League goal the highlights of an impressive team display from the Novocastrians.

The pre-season message emanating out of the Jets camp was that Papas had worked his charges into the ground, but the graft has paid dividends early doors; the Jets played with zip and mobility against the ‘Nix, showcasing the endurance to carry out Papas’ exciting game plan. 

They’re the highest scoring team in the league to date – but a Round 5 clash with the in-form Macarthur FC with the equal-best defensive record in the league will put Newcastle to the test. 

The Bulls are the only side yet to lose this season. Macarthur’s solitary goal conceded in the current campaign came in Round 1 in a 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix, which preceded three wins and as many clean sheets which sent Ante Milicic’s side flying into top spot on the table.

It’s resolute defence against a free-flowing attack in Round 5 as the Bulls and Jets go toe-to-toe in what promises to be one of the showpiece events in a weekend of A-Leagues action.