Steven Hall became the most unlikely toast of Adelaide United on Saturday night when he was subbed on for an injured James Delianov in its A-League Men clash against Wellington Phoenix.
Wellington’s Jaushua Sotirio delivered a low cross from the left wing towards teammate Ben Waine who collected the Adelaide keeper Delianov in an attempt at goal. Waine was issued a yellow card as Delianov was left writhing in pain on the ground, later confirmed to be a dislocated shoulder.
Attention turned to the touch line as 16-year-old Hall began warming up in his oversized goalkeeping shirt with Adelaide assistant, and former A-League goalkeeper of the year, Eugene Galekovic.
As Delianov exited the pitch, Hall was welcomed onto the same turf by a parochial Adelaide crowd as the teenager earned a number of early touches to calm the nerves.
The Adelaide supporters cheered every touch of Hall for the remainder of the first half, including a great stop towards half-time. Hall continued to play in an assertive manner to claim just Adelaide’s second clean sheet of the campaign.
What we know about Hall
Hall is not Adelaide’s first-choice keeper and the second-choice spot belongs to Joe Gauci, out with COVID-19. Ethan Cox is the third-choice keeper, but he missed out due to illness, making Hall’s debut even more stunning.
Rocking an impressive moustache for a 16-year-old, Hall is a member of Adelaide’s National Premier League (NPL) side. Hall played 19 games for the NPL side in 2021.
The youngster is officially the youngest goalkeeper in A-League Men history.
As for the result itself, Adelaide United dominated in a 4-0 win over Wellington Phoenix at Coopers Stadium.
Both sides were suffering from recent COVID-19 outbreaks with Mohamed Toure and the previously mentioned Gauci missing from United’s team sheet due to the virus, and the Phoenix missing three of their own players.
United opened the scoring in the seventh minute as Craig Goodwin smashed a volley that deflected off George Blackwood, who scored his first goal since returning to Adelaide after a stint in England.
The Wellington bench was irate when Adelaide was controversially awarded a penalty in the 53rd minute as referee Daniel Elder pointed to the spot, where Goodwin put the Reds 2-0 up.
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The home side was awarded a second penalty in the 67th minute as the son of club legend Cassio, Bernardo, was brought down by James McGarry, who was consequently dragged by Ufuk Talay. Goodwin coolly slotted his second penalty as Adelaide took a three-goal lead.
An impressive 80th minute volley by Spaniard Javi Lopez made the score line 4-0 as the Reds secured their first win of the season.
The game was played with a fierce intensity, as Elder issued eight yellow cards throughout the evening on a hot night in Adelaide.
Adelaide is scheduled to host arch-rivals Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night in the FFA Cup Quarter-Final and Wellington will travel to Melbourne in their own Quarter-Final against Melbourne City.
Earlier, Adelaide United defeated Perth Glory 4-2 in a high-scoring A-League Women encounter.
What happens next?
It looks likely that Delianov will miss a number of games with his shoulder injury, and depending on the availability of Gauci and Cox, it would seem that Hall will suit up again for Adelaide on Wednesday night.
Hall will be looking forward to getting back to school at the end of the month, where he will be able to tell his friends that he is now a professional footballer.
With a history of blooding quality young goalkeepers, such as Paul Izzo, Mark Birrighitti, Daniel Margush and Cameron Cook, there is no doubt we will be hearing the name Steven Hall again in the future.
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