Fernhill pulled off a minor miracle on Saturday afternoon to steal the final spot in the District League top five.

The Foxes overcame league-title challengers Unanderra 2-0 at Ray Robinson Field with results in two other matches just falling in their favour to see the side jump two spots into fifth.

Youngsters Will Roberts and Sean Molloy set up the match with two first-half goals with Fernhill holding strong at the other end to nullify goal ace Mark Picciolini and co.

The opening goal came in the third minute when Roberts was able to beat the onrushing Brandon Groom before his bobbling shot managed to deceive the retreating Michael Perinich to find the bottom right corner.

The Hearts had a great chance to go level in the 13th minute when Luke Picciolini’s free kick was headed on to Andrew Nanos at the back post with the towering defender blasting his effort over. 

The Foxes should have had their second a minute later when Molloy broke down the right wing before cutting the ball across to his opposite winger Nelson McLeod, however, his shot from six-yards out got stuck under his foot allowing Unanderra to get back and close down the play.

The second goal came for Fernhill in the 37th minute after a nice switch play which saw a cross from the left flashed back across goal by McLeod with Molloy on hand to tap home from close range.

The Picciolini brothers had a chance each to close out the half, however, stand-in goalkeeper Kristian Bullock was up to the task on both occasions.

The half-time break came around with Unanderra two-goals in arrears, with the league championship all but gone with ladder leaders Oak Flats holding a 2-0 advantage over Thirroul at the time.

The Hearts had a good opportunity to pull a goal back early in the second period when Dominic Magill played Daniel Saverino through, however, Bullock was able to produce a great one-on-one save.

The Foxes had a couple of uncontrolled efforts on goal in the midst of the second half through Molloy and Kurt Foulger while Unanderra continued to have little luck at the other end.

Fernhill nearly pinched a third goal deep into injury time when McLeod cut the ball back to Andrew Drapaniotis but the defender’s finish bounced off the base of the left post.

The win sees Fernhill move into the top five for the first time this season with the Foxes finishing the 11 rounds with 17 points and only ahead of sixth-placed University by two goals.

Fernhill will face Helensburgh in an elimination final and rookie coach Dale White said the performance against Unanderra will give his side plenty of belief.

“The hardest task was going out and getting the win for us,” White said.

“We haven’t been in the finals all year and now we sneak in through the back door in the last minute so we’re ready. [Beating Unanderra gives us] huge confidence. 

“It has been a disruptive year, asterisks or no asterisks on the season, but it’s been so enjoyable to do this… the boys have responded, especially in this last month, it’s full credit to the boys.”

Unanderra would have ultimately missed out on the league title regardless of this result with the Falcons running out 3-0 winners.

Rod William’s side will look to put this display, and the disappointment of missing out on the league championship, behind them as they prepare to take on Picton in a qualifying final next weekend.

Fernhill 2 (Will Roberts 3’, Sean Molloy 37’)

Unanderra 0

Fernhill: 1. BULLOCK Kristian, 2. DRAPANIOTIS Andrew, 3. CALDER Lachlan, 4. FOULGER Kurt, 5. OLIVER Anthony, 6. WORTHINGTON Trent, 7. MCLEOD Nelson, 8. MOROSIN Dean, 9. ROBERTS Will, 10. SERGI Marc, 11. MOLLOY Sean

Substitutes: 12. THOMPSON Nathan (MOROSIN), 13. PRENZOSKI Ilija (MOLLOY), 14. KATSOUDAS Peter, 15. GRIMES Joel, 21. MCCLELLAND James

Unanderra: 1. GROOM Brandon, 2. JORGE Daniel, 6. MOREIRA Brad, 3. PERINICH Michael, 8. SAVERINO Michael, 10. PICCIOLINI Luke, 17. MAGILL Dominic, 16. PERRY Joel, 13. PICCIOLINI Mark, 7. PLAKIAS Christian, 12. NANOS Andrew 

Substitutes: 9. SAVERINO Daniel (PLAKIAS), 40. SALLABANK Ben (JORGE), 50. BUSSOLETTI Luke, 36. SHEPPARD Heath (PICCIOLINI Luke), 4 D’ALESSIO Claude

Date: 3 October 2020

Venue: Ray Robinson Field

Referee: Brendon Fotheringham

Assistant Referees: Demi Goddard and Stuart Derbridge

Report by Dylan Arvela, on Twitter @dylanarvela

Photos by Graham Brown

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