At the three-month winter break in the Serbian season, FK Radnicki 1923 remained unbeaten and top of the Serbian First League. This start to the campaign ensured Vladimir Latunov still hadn’t lost a game in any second-tier competition, after an unbeaten season with Slovak side FC Nitra.
Latunov’s efforts in his former nation saw him win the Slovak Manager of the Year with a 53% win ratio at Nitra. And, interestingly, a Serbian player won European Golden Boy in Inter striker Stefan Gajovic, who just joined the club from Red Star.
He sold off some of the deadwood at the club for a much-needed profit of £500,000 and added to his squad with the free transfer signing of midfielder Denis Dubrovin.
Serbian First League resumes
A three-month winter break concluded with Radnicki 1923 hosting next-to-bottom Jagodina. They were extremely wasteful with 28 shots to zero, but finally got a breakthrough thanks to winger Mirsad Seferovic’s 88th minute long range strike. That win sealed a new Serbian First League record of 24 games unbeaten. That continued thanks to young winger Zoran Ristivojevic scoring his first senior goal to earn a draw at sixth-place Zlatibor, a 2-0 win over Zarkovo as Nikola Milosevic ended an 11-hour goal drought then scored again in a 3-0 win over Buducnost,
This run of form sent Radnicki nine points clear of second-place Vojvodina heading into a clash between the two. The other Nikola M, striker Nikola Mitrovic, gave the hosts a great start then missed an absolute sitter after half an hour, which enabled Vojvodina to score a fluky equaliser on the verge of half-time. And it stayed 1-1 through to full-time.
That put Radnicki 1923 two games away from an unbeaten 30-game regular season. However, they went to Trayal next and the hosts scored with their only shot of the first half as Radnicki failed with all of their 15. But a red card swung things back to the visitors. Right-winger Rajko Dmitrovic headed home an equaliser from a corner four minutes after the break before Milosevic completed the turnaround. Dmitrovic doubled his tally before Mitrovic wrapped up a 4-1 win.
The final day of the season saw Proleter come to town and Radnicki picked up where they left off with two goal in the first seven minutes from Dmitrovic and Mitrovic. Proleter got one back and Radnicki were again wasteful until Mitrovic scored two more to wrap up a hat-trick and another 4-1 win.
That meant Radnicki finished the preliminary phase undefeated with 21 wins and nine draws, scoring an impressive 73 and conceding 28.
Serbian Final Phase
At this point the league split in half, which took them into an eight-team final phase in which all the sides play each other once. So with a 21 point lead over third place and 11 point lead over second, Radnicki needed one point to wrap up promotion and 10 more to win the league.
The Final Phase began at home to Proleter, in which left-winger Dobrivoje Dukic scored a first-half brace. He’d been poor through the first half of the season but Latunov had switched his support role to an Inside Forward (Attack) and he’d suddenly come to life. Dmitrovic and his replacement Seferovic scored after the break for a 4-0 win that sealed an immediate promotion one year ahead of the board’s schedule!
Dukic was at it again with another brace inside 16 minutes in a trip to third-place Zemun, Mitrovic scored in injury-time to seal a 3-1 win. That put the title within reach as Metalac came to town and Radnicki started well with an early Aleksander Jovicic penalty before a Dukic screamer and another Mitrovic goal put them 3-0 up before the break.
FK Radnicki 1923 Kragujevac were Champions of the Serbian First League!!
The team didn’t let up as a Mitrovic brace and a late Dukic strike inspired a 3-0 win at Javor before Mitrovic and Dmitrovic sealed a 2-1 win at home to Zlatibor who had eight players booked and committed 23 fouls. The penultimate game of the season saw Radnicki wasteful at Zarkovo but Mitrovic found a breakthrough for a 1-0 win.
That continued the unbeaten season through to the final day and a trip to second-place Vojvodina, who’d dropped off lately and trailed Radnicki by 19 points. But that didn’t show as the home side dominated the first half and scored after 40 minutes. But a stern half-time talking to saw Radnicki respond through Dukic and the sides played out a 1-1 draw.
That ensured Radnicki 1923 finished the season unbeaten with 27 wins and 10 draws taking them to 91 points. They scored 90 goals and conceded 32, which was only bettered by Vojvodina’s 30. Mitrovic was the league’s top scorer with 27 goals in 37 games and Milosevic was third-top scorer with 19 in 29. While Dmitrovic and Dukic led the assists with 14 and 13 respectively and Milosevic had the highest average rating of 7.39.
All the records smashed
Radnicki set all sorts of records this season. That included the Serbian First League record for most points in a season (91), most wins in a season (27), most goals (90), most matches without losing (37) and matched Javor’s unbeaten season of 2007/08. They also broke club records for most points, most league wins, fewest league defeats and most league goals scored. Mitrovic broke the record for most Radnicki goals and league goals in a season, most goals in a match (3) and most player of the match awards (7).
The main men this season were the Nikola M strikeforce of Mitrovic and Milosevic. Mitrovic scored 27 and got eight assists while Milosevic scored 19 and got six assists. Dmitrovic scored 13 and got 14 assists and Dukic got 12 goals and 13 assists, as the front four were excellent this season. Jovicic also popped up with eight goals and 10 assists from midfield and a decent contribution from his promising partner Zarko Novakovic with three goals and six assists.
Milosevic had a 7.39 average rating across the season followed by Mitrovic (7.18), Dmitrovic (7.18) and Seferovic (7.13). Another impressive performer was 20-year-old centre-back Ivan Jovanovic, who had a 7.10 average rating. Unsurprisingly, Milosevic (24) won fans’ player and young player of the season and Dukic won goal of the season.
Mitrovic also won the Serbian First League Player of the Season and Top Goalscorer awards, Latunov won Manager of the Season and nine players made the Team of the Season.
Join us next time as Vladimir Latunov looks to strengthen his Radnicki 1923 squad to step up to the Serbian SuperLeague.