Kennedy justifies Culina's faith

Newcastle coach Branko Culina's loyalty to Ben Kennedy was rewarded at Hindmarsh Stadium on Monday when the 'work in progress' goalkeeper pulled off a critical save in the team's 1-1 draw with Adelaide United.

Newcastle coach Branko Culina's loyalty to Ben Kennedy was rewarded at Hindmarsh Stadium on Monday when the 'work in progress' goalkeeper pulled off a critical save in the team's 1-1 draw with Adelaide United.

Kennedy was under pressure to retain his spot after bringing down players in the box and then conceding penalties during the Jets' previous games against Sydney and Perth.

But the 22-year-old went from zero to hero when he stopped a Travis Dodd spot kick in the second half of the Round 9 clash against the Reds.

Culina said it was important to persist with the team's younger players.

"It was a tough call during the week. There were a lot of people calling for his head because of his two mistakes in the previous two weeks," Culina said.

"But you've got to back it up, we've got some players who are really a work in progress and Ben Kennedy is one of those."

"You have a responsibility as a coach to get results of course but you've got a responsibility to the players to make sure you help them develop as players and human beings and you don't want to destroy them because they've had one or two bad games."

"The easiest thing for me would've been to drop players over the last few weeks but that's not me."

Culina was also pleased with the efforts of recruit Michael Bridges in his first game for the club and his first game anywhere for six weeks. The former Sydney FC player contributed to the team's first half goal and was unlucky not to find a match winner later in the contest.

Bridges was replaced by Kaz Patafta in the 83rd minute.

"He actually surprised me, I thought he got stronger as the game went on and he started doing a lot of good things, even after the period where we had pretty much designated that enough would be enough for him," Culina said.

"Michael probably lasted an extra 10-15 minutes and that's an encouraging sign for us."

Bridges himself was pleased with his performance given his limited match fitness but was disappointed the side didn't make more of its opportunities.

"We are not a big physical team but boy, by hell we can play the ball and the movement off the ball is fantastic," Bridges said.

"The first half we destroyed them, we were on top of our game and we didn't seem to offer anything and it was going to take a great goal to go past us."