Adelaide United’s Youth side have won their first ever NPL South Australia Championship after demolishing Modbury Jets 7-2 in the Grand Final on Friday night.
In front of a strong crowd of 1,627 at ServiceFM Stadium, Modbury were no match for a Reds outfit who blew the Jets out the water from the onset.
Adelaide opened up a 3-0 lead in the first-half thanks to goals from Panashe Madanha, Luka Jovanovic and Jonny Yull, before the Reds added another four unanswered goals after the break.
Jovanovic and Yull both helped themselves to seconds in the final 45, while substitutes Luke Duzel and Fabian Talladira got in on the act to fire Adelaide to an incredible victory.
Hamish and Liam McCabe scored a goal each late for the Jets, but it was nothing more than a consolation for Modbury – whose incredible run to the Grand Final didn’t have a fairy tale conclusion.
Featured image: Adam Butler (80kms)
The win caps off an incredible season for Airton Andrioli’s side who despite being given little chance heading into finals, not only made the Grand Final but came away with South Australian football’s ultimate prize – only two years after escaping a relegation dogfight.
Reds Youth finished third on the standings, and loaded up heading into post season with the return of a host of A-Leagues experienced players including Jovanovic, Yull, Duzel and Nestory Irankunda – who was missing from the Grand Final squad.
Their returns helped turbocharge their hopes of a deep run into the finals, as they saw off Adelaide Comets in a dramatic Elimination Final victory, before shocking Campbelltown City in the two-legged semi final 5-2 on aggregate.
Six days later, those same young stars – who look set to be at the heart of the Reds’ senior team’s senior squad this A-Leagues season – led them to a historic victory.
For a host of young Reds players, the finals series served as an opportunity on an even bigger stage to push their case for selection in the senior team this upcoming Isuzu UTE A-League season – particularly following the departure of Craig Goodwin to Saudi Arabia.
Adelaide have been quiet on the arrival front this off-season – only signing Bailey O’Neil, Giuseppe Bovalina and Panagiotis Kikianis to scholarship deals – meaning the door is wide open for the kids to break into the senior team.
It does, however, remain to be seen whether Adelaide turn to the transfer window to replace Goodwin in the coming weeks or whether coach Carl Veart turns to one of the youngsters to help fill the gap left by the Socceroo.
Meanwhile, despite the loss, Modbury can hold their heads high after an incredible season.
The Jets were the story of 2023 in South Australian football, having booked a place in the finals on the first time of asking following their promotion from South Australia’s second tier at the end of last season.
After defeating Adelaide City in the Elimination Final, Maurice Natale’s side saw off premiers MetroStars 5-3 on aggregate in the semis, ending their 22 game unbeaten streak to book a spot in the decider that no one saw coming.
Unfortunately, for their sake, they were unable to continue their magical run for one more evening.