Local Aussies: City youngsters shine, Elrich's long-awaited return
There were some exceptional performances from a number of Aussies in the Hyundai A-League over the weekend, while a former Caltex Socceroo made a welcome return from a long-term injury.
In our Local Aussies wrap, here are four players who caught the eye from the A-League’s Harmony Round.
DANIEL ARZANI AND NATHANIEL ATKINSON
While Bruno Fornaroli claimed man-of-the-match honours, City’s 19-year-old whiz kid was again at his electric best against a below-par Wanderers.
The attacker’s mazy dribbling caused Josep Gombau’s side all sorts of problems throughout the contest, with the winger forcing a sharp save from Vedran Janjetovic on the half-hour mark.
Arzani’s persistence paid dividends just before the break with the winger’s dangerous cross finding its way to Fornaroli, with the Uruguayan slotting from close range to make it 1-0.
The youngster created two chances and completed 80% of his passes as he completed the full 90 minutes for the second straight game.
Nathaniel Atkinson, 18, also put in an impressive shift for City, playing the full 90 minutes and picking up an assist in a superb performance.
Starting his 11th game of his debut season, Atkinson completed a remarkable 97% of his 31 passes, won six duels and created a chance as City cruised to a comfortable win.
City boss Warren Joyce praised the duo post-match but stressed his young starlets still have plenty of improvement left to do.
“You’re obviously stressing the word consistency. He’s getting better at all sides of the game," Joyce said of Arzani's performance.
“I thought (Nathaniel) Atkinson was good as well. I thought they were both good.
“They still have things to learn. There’s still things you want to challenge them [with] and there’s still things you want them to be better at.
“But you’ve got to keep pushing and that’s the demand you would put on them as players because I don’t want them to be not as ambitious for their career as I am.”
Adelaide United may have thumped the high-flying Jets on Friday night but the real story was the heart-warming return of the fit-again fullback.
After spending almost 12 months on the sidelines with a torn ACL, Elrich came on with 15 minutes remaining as the Reds crushed Newcastle.
The ex-Jet received a rousing reception on his entrance to the field and could have capped it with a goal, with a strike from just outside the box sailing over the bar.
Discarded by Newcastle Jets at the end of the 2015/16 season, the winger is making the most of his second chance in the A-League.
After a solid showing for Adelaide last campaign, Kitto has taken his game to a new level this season with an impressive six goals and four assists for Marco Kurz’s side.
The 23-year-old was instrumental in the Reds’ big 5-2 win over Newcastle on Friday night, scoring one and setting up another as Adelaide consolidated a spot in the top six.
Kitto’s strike took him to six for the campaign and is now Adelaide’s top scorer, one clear of Dane Johan Absalonsen and George Blackwood.