R14 Wrap: Raiders v Croydon Kings
A second half, 4 goal onslaught by Croydon Kings against a hapless Raiders in their PlayStation 4 National Premier League South Australia encounter, has cemented Raiders at the foot of the League table.
Raiders took the game right up to Croydon for sixty minutes, taking the lead along the way in the 31st minute courtesy of a penalty which was well converted by Mathew Mullen. But a second half injury to defender Pietro Piantedosi and the forward pressure by Croydon overwhelmed a mostly inexperienced Raiders outfit.
Croydon started the game in full flight and nearly had an opening goal in the 8’ when new signing Anthony Trimboli raced into the eighteen-yard box and squared a neat pass to Elvis Kambosa, but he sprayed his shot from close range.
Croydon continued to apply the pressure on the Raiders defence, but couldn’t convert their goal scoring opportunities. A James Skeffington “rocket” from long range shook the upright.
Rocky Visconte was electric in the midfield, his grace on the ball and sublime passes were causing the Raiders’ defenders plenty of concerns. With fellow midfielders in Skeffington and Luke Klimek who were also having their fair purchase on the ball, the Croydon forwards were getting plenty of ball supply, but with little return on the score board.
Raiders were content to absorb the early onslaught and try to catch Croydon on the break. Their first genuine scoring opportunity came in the 31’ when a quick break forward saw Shekubah Hutton - Addy race into the box and win a penalty, after being bought down with a clumsy challenge. Mullen had little trouble converting from the spot to give Raiders the early lead.
The goal seemed to give Raiders some needed confidence and they began to venture forward with more assurance, Yasmin Sudic and Pierce Stephens were having a purple patch in the shades of halftime while Justin Bralic, Mullen, and Piantedosi were solid in defence.
For all their dominance in the first half Croydon would go into the break a goal down and their backs to the wall.
The second half opened similar to the first with Raiders happy to hold onto the ball and run the clock down forcing Croydon to chase the game.
A serious knee injury to Raiders’ defender Piantedosi exposed the Raiders defence. Robbie Matosevic seemed err on the side of caution by overlooking Andrew Tamburrino (a like for like replacement) for the more experienced Paul Karavelis. Croydon would seize their opportunity and unlike the first half would rattle the score board.
The absence of Piantedosi left a cavernous in the Raiders defence, and Croydon were happy to take advantage.
The goals began to flow in the 62’ when Visconte converted a penalty spot kick to give Croydon parity.
The same old suspects, Visconte, Skeffington, Klimek and Trimboli bobbed up to ice the game for Croydon. In the space of six minutes from the 72nd to the 78th minute Croydon netted three goals to seal the deal. Doyle’s neat back heel into the goal from a corner kick, a blistering strike from McGreevy and neat header by Pepper from another corner set piece turned the game one hundred and eighty degrees. From that point on there was no coming back for Raiders.
A disappointed Bralic said Croydon was always going to present a big challenge, but went into the game with a revised game plan to restrict Croydon’s control on the ball.
“We tried to keep the ball away from them and play a more possession game. We knew that if we restricted their midfield influence we had a good chance of winning,” Bralic said.
“They owned the first half but after we scored we grew in confidence and the boys went into the halftime break with real belief.
“Unfortunately the loss of Pietro(Piantedosi) in the back half really hurt us and they were able to break through and score.”
When asked about the prospects of being relegated Bralic was positive on what needed to be done.
“We are an old and proud club, we will do everything possible to get ourselves out of the dire situation we find ourselves in at the moment. We definitely won’t go down without a fight,” he said.
A relieved Rock Visconte was happy to get the vital three points, and push Croydon within striking distance of the top six.
“This was a big game for us, we talked about the importance of it all week at training,” Visconte said.
“It was good to finally get the score on the board. In the past we couldn’t convert our chances which cost us.
“After the penalty we just let fly and we took them on. We were able to score back to back goals to put them under the pump.
“We have a talented group of players, and we all know we have to work hard in the next eight games if we want to play finals; today’s win was the start.”
It was a great spirited fight back by Croydon, led from the front by the brilliant influence of Visconte. The emphatic victory should send a warning to the other clubs that Croydon is coming.
For Raiders it will be back to the training track to find some lost inspiration, as their fight for survival continues next week against West Adelaide.
Written by: Joe Pangallo 5RTI Sports - 531AM