It was déjà vu at Unanderra Oval as Mark Picciolini notched his second hat trick in as many games, propelling Unanderra Hearts to a 3-0 victory over Balgownie Rangers in the District League First Grade fixture.
An early taste of Spring on Saturday saw locals flock to watch the in-form Unanderra side, coming of a 5-0 win over Berkeley the week prior and sitting at third in the competition standings.
Hearts’ star striker, Mark Picciolini, entered the encounter in inspiring goal scoring form, totalling nine goals in the first five rounds and making a strong case for this year’s golden boot.
Alternatively, Balgownie sought redemption after a devastating loss in their previous fixture, where they were bested by Helensburgh in stoppage time.
Unanderra opened the game strongly, dominating possession and having their way in attacking territory, with their one-touch passing an impressive feature of their game. Unfortunately, during this time, poor shot selection and execution befell them.
They enjoyed a flourish of goal-scoring opportunities in the 22nd, 24th and 25th minute, with all shots taken from inside the box, and yet missing the goals by substantial margins. Even the elite finishing of Mark Picciolini couldn’t find the goal.
In the 28th minute, Unanderra seemed destined to score again as a ricochet from a corner landed at the feet of Scott Bridge just outside the 6-yard box. Bridge, who was well balanced, powered the shot on goal, only for it to be incredibly saved by Rangers’ keeper, Hugh Bahnert.
Something had to give, and by the 36th minute, the Picciolini brothers answered the call. With his back to the goal, Luke Picciolini wowed the crowd with a classy heel in traffic to find brother Mark open just outside the box. Wasting no time, Mark Picciolini, with a first-time strike, drilled it into the bottom left corner and opened the scoring for Unanderra at 1-0.
The Rangers did their best to claw their way back into the contest, however were unable to make their own impression on the scoreboard. The score remained 1-0 at the half.
In the 56th minute, the Rangers finally saw some genuine goal-scoring opportunities come their way as Sebastian Dallas’ volley from close range was just tapped over the bar by Hearts’ keeper, Brandon Groom.
Off the ensuing corner, Rangers’ midfielder, Jim Yousef, got his head to the ball but unfortunately directed it just wide of the left upright.
Minutes later, Mark Picciolini’s second goal seemed imminent, as two headers from the striker in the same sequence went agonisingly close.
The goal-scoring maestro didn’t have to wait long though, as two minutes later the dynamic brother duo were at it again. Just as they did previously, Luke Picciolini found brother Mark with a pinpoint ball, who clinically found the net with a powerful first-time finish, doubling Unanderra’s lead and making the score 2-0.
In the 67th minute, Balgownie thought they had found a lifeline in their first goal of the match, as an impressive delivery off a free kick was steered in off the volley, only to be denied by a whistle for offside.
The onslaught continued in the 75th minute as a beautifully lofted corner kick from Daniel Saverino just cleared the reach of Bahnert. Waiting on the other end was the trusty head of Mark Picciolini, heading it into an open goal, snaring his third of the match and second consecutive hattrick. This extended Unanderra’s lead out to three, with the scoreboard reading 3-0.
In an action-packed 90 minutes of play, the final score read 3-0 to the home side, Unanderra Hearts, registering their fourth win of the season.
Sitting just one point behind second place, Oak Flats, on the competition ladder, Unanderra Hearts will look to continue their win streak against the luckless Thirroul Thunder at Thomas Gibson next Saturday.
Meanwhile, Balgownie will venture to Kooloobong in the hopes of snapping their current losing streak against University FC. This won’t be an easy endeavour however, as University enter the meeting with back-to-back wins including this week’s convincing 3-0 victory over Berkeley.
Saturday 29nd of August at Unanderra Oval
The People Care District League (FG) – Round 6
Unanderra Hearts: 3 (PICCIOLINI 36’, 61’, 75’)
Balgownie Rangers: 0
Unanderra Hearts: Brandon GROOM, Daniel JORGE, Brad MAREIRA, Micheal PERINICH, Christian PLAKIAS, Michael SAVERINO, Daniel SAVERINO, Domonic MCGILL, Mark PICCIOLINI, Scott BRIDGE, Luke PICCIOLINI,
Subs: Joel PERRY, Claude D’ALESSIO, Heath SHEPPARD, Luke BUSSOLETTI
Balgownie Rangers: Hugh BAHNERT, Luke MCDONALD, Max ALLAN, Mitchell DAVIS, Anthony GIGLIOTTI, Brandon LEWIS, Jim YOUSEF, Jackson DUMMETT, Sebastian DALLAS, Mark JONES, Mitchell O’DONNELL
Subs: Johnathan MCCREALY, Mathew BUBB, Chris HOLLINGSHEAD, Thomas SPALGO, Liam STEVENSON
Main Referee: Brendon Fotheringham
Assistant Referee: Stuart Bell