A Valentino Merxhushi brace guided Unanderra Hearts to a 4-0 win over Picton Rangers at Ian McLennan Park on Saturday night.
Merxhushi put the Hearts in front midway through the first half before a late flurry of goals blew out the score with Luke Debrot, another Merxhushi goal, and Mark Picciolini on the scoresheet.
It was an action-packed opening quarter of the game and just ten minutes in, Picton’s Josh Maiolo picked up the ball inside the left of the box dragging a shot wide of the far post.
A minute later, Unanderra went down the other end creating a couple good chances. Tatsuki Nagatsuka finding space on the left sending a swerving shot into the side netting before Christian Plakias volleyed over from the edge of the box.
In the 13th minute, a nicely worked Picton corner from the left found Slaven Ljuboja in middle who saw his effort cleared off the line.
After this scare for the Hearts, the side began to assume control in the match with Nagatsuka’s deflected shot from outside the box falling just wide.
A strong period of possession saw Unanderra find the breakthrough in the 27th minute as Mark Picciolini’s shot from a central position was not cleared as the ball fell kindly to Merxhushi who passed the ball into an empty net.
Just before the break, the Rangers should have been level with Brodie O’Neil’s ball across the face of goal from the right finding Cameron O’Neil at the back post who inexplicably missed a gaping goal.
At the break, Unanderra were in front despite the side seeing their defence opened up on a few occasions.
The Hearts came out for the second half a much more dangerous outfit dominating possession with Scott Bridge and Nagatsuka both coming close in the opening ten minutes.
The side eventually found the second goal in the 73rd minute with Luke Debrot bringing down the ball well in the box before mazing through a couple of challenges and sliding it into the net.
A fluttered flurry of goals followed for the Hearts as two minutes after Debrot’s goal, Merxhushi picked up his second of the game as he rifled a shot home from the right of the box.
Two minutes after this, Unanderra blew the game wide open as they had another after a sweeping move down the right saw Merxhushi roll the ball across to Picciolini in the middle who tapped home from very close range.
After some clinical finishing from Rod Williams’ side, the game fizzled out ensuring Unanderra took all three points.
Next Friday, Unanderra will travel to Thomas Gibson Park to take on Thirroul while Picton will host Berkeley (weather permitting).
Unanderra Hearts 4 (Valentino Merxhushi 28’ 75’, Luke Debrot 73’, Mark Picciolini 77’)
Picton Rangers 0
Unanderra Hearts: 20. COAD Blake, 3. PRETOSKI Aleksander, 4. BELSITO Nathan, 10. NAGATSAKA Tatsuki, 13. PICCIOLINI Mark, 7. PLAKIAS Christian, 11. MERXHUSHI Valentino, 23. MOREIRA Bradley, 9. BRIDGE Scott, 2. SAVERINO Michael
Substitutes: 14. MARTIN Lachlan (MOREIRA), 6. DELBANCO Robert (PLAKIAS), 8. LIDDLE Jonathan (BRIDGE), 1. SAWADA Kenji
Picton Rangers: 1. MICHELMANN Tristan, 2. COOLEY Craig, 5. LJUBOJA Slaven, 6. MAIOLO Josh, 4. O’NEIL Brodie, 8. O’NEIL Cameron, 9. TESORIERO Matthew, 10. O’NEIL Conner, 13. MIRANDA Scott, 14. NELSON Daniel, 16. FITZSIMMONS Bailey
Substitutes: 3. MESIAS Sebastian (NELSON), 17. FREEMAN Sane (TESORIERO), 12. STEWART Daniel (LJUBOJA), 15. CARROLL Sam
Date: Saturday 9 April 2022
Venue: Ian McLennan Park
Referee: Reece Edwards
Assistant Referees: Demi Goddard and Casey Flemming
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @Timg123_
Photo courtesy of Richie Wagner