Unanderra have ended Fernhill’s season with a 2-1 victory at Ray Robinson Field with substitute Save Trenseki blasting home the winner in the 109th minute to book the Hearts a rematch with Picton next weekend.
The Hearts went into the match following a 3-2 loss to Picton in the Qualifying Final. As for the Foxes, they found their way into the contest with an epic penalty shootout win over Helensburgh.
The game started with both sides holding off early on, with no real opportunities on goal in the opening 20 minutes.
Joel Perry then stepped over a free-kick in the 21st minute. His curling effort forced a save out of Fernhill shot-stopper Kristian Bullock at his near post. The ball fell kindly to Dominic Magill on the rebound but the midfielder’s shot flew over.
In the 24th minute, Fernhill opened the scoring. It was a pearler of a cross by Marc Sergi from the left wing that found Nelson McLeod open at the far post. McLeod blasted home a first-time volley into the roof of the net, giving the Foxes a perfect start.
The goal sparked something for Dale White’s men as they almost found the back of the net twice in as many minutes. Sean Molloy found himself one-on-one with his opposing number before rounding the Unanderra defender only to see his shot go out for a corner with a save from Brandon Groom.
The Hearts thought they had their equaliser in the 30th minute as Andrew Nanos poked home from close range following a deep free-kick. However, referee Caleb Blanch deemed a foul in the contest between Nanos and the Fernhill defence.
Despite the disallowed goal, Unanderra equalised just before the half. After a broken-down play saw the ball fall to Magill, a simple pass in front of Christian Plakias allowed the captain to take one touch and set it up on his right foot, finishing it into the roof of the net to bring the scores level.
As the half-time whistle sounded, the teams went into the break at one-all.
Plakias had his curled effort from range tipped past the post by Bullock in the 58th minute as the game went into the final half-hour.
Two minutes later, Fernhill really should have re-taken the lead as Molloy’s run up the right saw him beat three Unanderra defenders on his way to the bi-line. With a simple cut-back beyond the reach of Groom straight to Sergi, the midfielder couldn’t connect with the ball as the scuffed shot rolled to Groom.
Fernhill did well to shut out Mark Picciolini for majority of the game as the league top-goal scorer had few chances on goal. His best came in the 71st minute, getting a head on the end of a corner, but he would only be denied by the woodwork, as his attempt smacked the crossbar.
The Hearts continued their dominant end to the game and should have gone ahead with just five minutes to play. Picciolini started to be a threat inside the box and his shot on the turn rebounded off the left post and fell straight to Lachlan Martin with the goal in front of him. But Martin sent his effort over from close range with Bullock astray.
As the game went into stoppages, all hearts stopped as Picciolini found himself on the ball inside the Foxes box. Turning his defender, his cut-back into his right foot set up a shot destined for the goal, as Unanderra fans started to celebrate, he sent his attempt over the crossbar, with virtually the last kick of the game.
The game steadied in extra-time, as any chance on goal got supporters out of their seats. Will Roberts rose the highest off the corner but with no connection on the ball, he sent his header wide in the 96th minute.
With chances on goal coming rarely for both sides to end the game, Rod Williams made his last substitution, which turned out to be the decision that won the Hearts the game.
Bringing on Save Treneski in the 108th minute, the striker found the back of the net just 90 seconds later, with his first touch of the ball. Running onto a long ball, Treneski brought it down beautifully with a delicate touch with the outside of his boot. This set up for a powerful finish to Bullocks near post, blasting it into the back of the net to send the Hearts into a frenzy.
After going ahead for the first time on the day, Unanderra still had work to do in the final 10 minutes.
Fernhill went inches away from equalising as Roberts sent a shot goal wards 20 yards out. A bouncing ball forced a parry down to Groom’s right, falling into the path of Kurt Fougler. Trying to reminiscence his goal-scoring heroics from last week, his shot from a tight angle caught the side netting to his frustration.
Despite all the last ditched efforts from the Foxes, Unanderra held on for a 2-1 win in the Elimination Semi-Final, sending Fernhill out of the competition and setting up a rematch with Picton in the process.
Unanderra Coach Rod Williams said the side could have been up by a few more goals inside the 90 minutes but thought they were good value for the win.
“I thought in the opening 20-25 minutes Fernhill were the better side. They pushed hard and scored with a well-taken volley. I thought by the back end of the first half we came back into the game remarkably well.
“In normal time, we probably should have 5-6 golden chances to put the game away. That wasn’t to be and it went to extra time and we finally put one away through Save Treneski,” he said.
The win now sets the Hearts up with a Preliminary Final against Picton next weekend and Williams admits it’s been a tough last couple of weeks.
“This week’s been a hard week. We’ll have a lighter night on Tuesday and work on a few things Thursday.
“We’ve played Picton a couple of times, we pretty much know what they’re all about and hopefully playing at Coniston (JJ Kelly Park) on a pretty good pitch we’re hoping to get the win,” he said.
“At the end of the day as long as football’s the winner, I’m happy with the boys, they’ve given me a great year and hopefully we can finish it in a Grand Final,” Williams added.
Unanderra: 2 (Plakias 38’, Treneski 109’)
Fernhill: 1 (McLeod 24’)
Unanderra: 1. GROOM Brandon, 2. JORGE Daniel, 3. PERINICH Michael, 6. MORIERA Brad, 7. PLAKIAS Christian, 9. SAVERINO Daniel, 10. MANFREDI Lorri, 12. NANOS Andrew 13. PICCIOLINI Mark, 16. PERRY Joel, 17. MAGILL Dominic.
Substitutes: 4. MARTIN Lachlan (NANOS), 5. SALLABANK Ben (PERINICH), 8. SHEPPARD Heath (SALLABANK), 45. TRENESKI Save (MAGILL), 50. BUSSOLETTI Luke.
Fernhill: 1. BULLOCK Kristian, 2. DRAPANIOTIS Andrew, 3. CALDER Lachlan, 4. FOULGER Kurt, 5. OLIVER Anthony, 6. MUILWYK Scott, 7. MCLEOD Nelson, 8. MOROSIN Dean, 9. ROBERTS Will, 10. SERGI Marc, 11. MOLLOY Sean.
Substitutes: 12. THOMPSON Nathan (DRAPANIOTIS), 13. KEEP Andrew (MOLLOY), 14. KATSOUDAS Peter (MUILWYK), 15. SCOTT Jordan (OLIVER), 21. WOOD Taylor.
Date: 17 October 2020
Venue: Ray Robinson Field
Referee: Caleb Blanch
Assistant Referees: Nicholas Ryan and Reece Edwards
Sideline Referee: Andrew Naylor
Report by Nathan Turner, on Twitter @nathanturner23_
Photo courtesy of Graham Brown