THE battle for the Newcastle Jets’ No.1 goalkeeping spot took a turn during Wednesday night’s game against the Northern NSW select side at Adamstown Oval.
Mark Birighitti, signed from Adelaide United in January, was given his chance to shine in place of an injured Ben Kennedy (groin).
But the Australian youth international, who has A-League and Asian Champions League experience, would have been disappointed he did not stake a stronger claim.
The 21-year-old was at fault for the opening goal when a mix-up at the back drew him out of his area to clear a loose ball.
Birighitti managed to get to the ball first but his clearance cannoned back off Josh Mitchell and over his head, gifting Broadmeadow Magic’s Scott Pettit the easiest of goals.
Despite the setback, the Jets fought back to secure a 2-1 victory, but it was not the only shaky moment in Birighitti’s 60minutes on the park.
The new recruit was almost caught out again before the break, forced to use his head to clear a bouncing ball after rashly coming out of his box.
This time it was lucky that NNSW and Jets youth player Andrew Hoole could not capitalise on the error.
But the two mistakes highlighted the fragile life of a goalkeeper.
In no other position is there as much pressure and it is clear one mistake can lead to weeks, or even months, on the sidelines.
For Birighitti, sitting on the bench is not an option at this stage of his career.
He played understudy to two-time A-League goalkeeper of the year Eugene Galekovic at Adelaide United and has made it clear since arriving in Newcastle in June he was after first team football.
‘‘I want to push myself and try to get that number one spot,’’ Birighitti said.
‘‘To do that I have to work hard and prove myself in training and when I do get an opportunity, do well.’’
But as it stands, Kennedy, who has been impressive in the past 18months, is the man to beat and Wednesday’s display was nowhere near the standard required.