Oak Flats secured the District League double after their 3-0 grand final win over Unanderra Hearts at Ian McLennan Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Falcons got out to the best start possible with Daniel Munilla scoring inside six minutes before goals to substitute Julian Minutillo and goal-getter Bojan Caric in the second half ensured the side would walk away with both pieces of silverware in the 2020 season.

Oak Flats went into the game as favourites, enjoying a week off following their 4-2 victory over Picton in the major semi-final, whereas the Hearts did it the hard way, securing back-to-back extra-time wins over Fernhill and Picton to advance to the big dance.

The game started as a typical fiery grand final contest and it was Unanderra who had the first chance with Dominic Magill setting up Mark Picciolini for a shot which was comfortably saved by Ryan Franks.

The league-title winners then took the lead just a minute later as Aden Wade sent a curled free-kick towards goal. Hearts shot-stopper Brandon Groom was forced into action, parrying away the attempt but only as far as Daniel Munilla whose first time shot rifled into the roof of the net.

Conceding the early goal seemed to spark something for the Hearts as they created a majority of the chances inside the opening 45 minutes.

League top goal-scorer Picciolini was in the mix again, running onto a through ball that saw an onrushing Franks come out to save. The rebound fell his brother, Luke Picciolini but his powerful effort flew wide of the goal.

In the 32nd minute, Mark Picciolini had two chances within 60 seconds that saw him go inches away from levelling the scores. First, Daniel Saverino’s dink into the striker was brought down beautifully before his shot on the turn went just beyond the far post. Then, he used his chest to bring down the high ball again, but it was the same outcome as his attempt went wide.

Despite being under pressure for most of the first half, the Falcons went the closest to scoring right on the stroke of half-time. Some nice work by Bojan Caric released Lee Gilroy onto goal. With no defenders within five metres, Gilroy blasted an effort into the crossbar and Unanderra were able to clear.

Wade then sent a volleyed effort goalwards and could have been a goal of the season contender but the ball dipped down onto the roof of the net, keeping the Falcons up by one at the break.

In the 51st minute, a swerving run by Caric on the edge of the Hearts box prompted a shot out of the striker but as Andrew Nanos got in the way, the ball fell to Wade who sent his effort wide of the goal.

The Hearts were again inches away from levelling things up in the 54th minute as an inch-perfect cross from Saverino evaded the foot of Lachlan Martin with an empty goal begging.

But ultimately it was the Falcons doubling their advantage through Julian Minutillo. Just minutes after coming off the bench, Minutillo poked in at the near post following Wade’s cross from the right, just 13 months after scoring within a minute of the Illawarra Premier League grand final for Wollongong Olympic.

In the 64th minute, the game was all but wrapped up when Caric scored the Falcons third after Minutillo contested a header with two Unanderra defenders. The ball fell kindly for Caric who steamed towards goal and a calm and composed finished saw the striker place it into the bottom corner to make it 3-0.

Caric almost had another just minutes later as Groom palmed his long-range effort away before Wade curled in a free-kick that forced another save out of Groom.

In the 76th minute, super-sub Save Treneski got into the action, beating several Oak Flats defenders in the box. His left-footed shot beating Franks in goal but rebounding off the post to the striker’s despair. Magill picked up the rebound as his shot was sent out for a corner.

Unanderra continued to push for a late consolation in the dying stages but it was too little too late for the Hearts as time slowly got the better of them.

Tempers then flared as Unanderra’s Mark Picciolini and Oak Flats’ Christian Cappetta were both sent from the field after an altercation between the two sides.

This had minimal impact on the result as the Falcons secured a 3-0 win, capping off a stellar season with a grand final trophy and ultimately sending coach’s Nathan Minutillo and Fabian Cappetta off with a win.

Oak Flats co-coach Nathan Minutillo credited the side’s resilience to get the job done following last years grand final defeat.

“The boys came back hungry after last years defeat,” Minutillo said.

We knew what we needed to add to the squad to get us over the line and we did that. The club’s very proud.”

“We got off to a really good start, we scored. Then, they had a mountain of chances. We were lucky to go into the break with a 1-0 lead but I feel if we got to that point we could have got everyone back in place at half-time, talk them through it. We got a few sniffs [on goal] and we took advantage of it.

Minutillo also gave credit to brother Julian Minutillo.

“He was good. Good impact off the bench,” he said.

“We knew what we needed to add this year and we’ve got quality depth of this squad. It was a good way to leave the club, on a high.

Both Minutillo and Fabian Cappetta will leave the club for the 2021 season having signed with Premier League outfit Corrimal and Minutillo couldn’t have been more happy to finish the way it did.

“Great way [to finish it]. We are very happy to leave this way and the club are very happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m sure they’ll keep moving in that direction.”

Full with Nathan Minutillo: bit.ly/3oLMG2L

Oak Flats: 3 (Daniel Munilla 6’, Julian Minutillo 58’, Bojan Caric 64’)

Unanderra: 0

Player of the Match: Jarryd Vinton

Oak Flats: 1. FRANKS Ryan, 3. LLOYD Brenton, 4. MINDZAS Thomas, 5. GILROY Lee, 6. WADE Aden, 7. VINTON Jarryd, 8. CAPPETTA Christian, 9. CARIC Bojan, 11. MUNILLA Daniel, 12. STEVENSON Jamie, 14. TILDEN John.

Substitutes: 2. BAUSCH Alex, 10. MINUTILLO Julian (MINDZAS), 13. DEL Kyle (MUNILLA), 15. BUBANJA Marko (CARIC), 71. JARMAN Chris.

Unanderra: 1. GROOM Brandon, 4. MARTIN Lachlan, 5. MANFREDI Lorri, 6. MOREIRA Brad, 7. PLAKIAS Christian, 9. SAVERINO Daniel, 10. PICCIOLINI Luke, 12. NANOS Andrew, 13. PICCIOLINI Mark, 16. PERRY Joel, 17. MAGILL Dominic.

Substitutes: 3. PERINICH Michael, 8. OSBOURNE Lachlan (MANFREDI), 15. SHEPPARD Heath, 49. TRENESKI Save (SAVERINO), 50. BUSSOLETTI Luke (PERRY).

Date: 31 October 2020

Venue: Ian McLennan Park

Referee: Bobby Mazevski

Assistant Referees: Caleb Blanch and Demi Goddard

Fourth Official: Greg Reid

Report by Nathan Turner, on Twitter @nathanturner23_

Photos by Pedro Garcia

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