Helensburgh Thistle finished their regular season in an entertaining fashion battering Unanderra Hearts 8-3 at Ian McLennan Park on Thursday night.
The Thistle burst into a three-goal lead inside 10 minutes, before the teams traded goal-for-goal in the latter stages of the half with Helensburgh going into the sheds 5-2 up.
Despite Unanderra pulling a goal back early in the second half, the League Champions added three more goals to finish up convincing winners.
The Thistle were on the front foot straight from the first whistle winning a corner on the left-hand side.
The delivery found Vaughan Patterson at the back of the pack who headed back across goal for defender Ryan Hope to slide the ball into the goal.
The side didn’t have to wait long for their second goal – scoring just three minutes later.
Joel Mucci wriggling his way through the left channel, side-footing a shot that bounced off Hearts’ keeper Blake Coad and into the goal.
Helensburgh remained relentless in their attacking impetus with Rob Watson being played in behind on the right and cutting the ball across the box; however, the ball was cleared.
The side added another goal 10 minutes in with Ben Watts sliding the ball from the left of the box to Kinsella centrally – the forward tapping home.
A dream start for Andrew Paine’s team had put them in a commanding position so early in the game, yet Unanderra looked to work their way back into the game.
Tatsuki Nagatsuka received the ball in space on the left and played it to the edge of the box to Mark Picciolini whose shot was deflected behind for a corner.
Picciolini had another chance two minutes later, this time Dominic Magill finding the forward in the box, but his effort went over the bar.
In the 20th minute, Thistle forward Kinsella got on the end of a right-sided cross – watching it roll agonisingly past the far post.
Unanderra created another opportunity four minutes later, with Nagatsuka’s curling cross from the left finding Picciolini at the back post who headed just wide.
Coad parried a cross to the edge of the box in the 26th minute that Helensburgh’s Charlie Jones latched onto and unleashed a half volley that was cleared off the line.
Picciolini took on a shot once more just before the half-hour mark poking an effort from the edge of the box, but Thistle goalkeeper Jordan Paull was equal to it.
The Thistle had effectively pounced on several giveaways in the first half, and Jones capitalised on one of these in the 33rd minute, but his shot flew narrowly wide of the right post.
Three minutes later, Jones did pick up his goal sliding a finish into the far corner from the left of the box.
The goals kept raining down at Ian McLennan Park in the final five minutes.
In the 41st minute, Thistle captain Patterson inadvertently prodded the ball towards the right post forcing Paull into a save; however, Picciolini was in the right spot to tap it in.
Although, Helensburgh responded just a couple of minutes later as Patterson bundled a left-sided corner home to re-extend the lead.
The Hearts went into the break with another goal as Nagatsuka squeezed a shot from the left of the box under Paull.
A frantic finish to the first half saw Helensburgh go into the break 5-2 up against Unanderra.
The Hearts capitalised on a sluggish start to the second period from the Thistle finding a goal within 10 minutes.
Picciolini’s sweeping pass onto the left for Nagatsuka resulted in the latter playing a neat one-two in the box with Magill – the Japanese passing the ball into the far corner.
Helensburgh began to reassert their dominance in the match midway through the half.
A persistent run into the left of the box from Jarrod Benham allowed the fullback to find Ben Watts in the middle who drew a sharp save from Coad to tip it round the post.
Benham’s resulting right-sided corner found Patterson’s head, but Unanderra midfielder Magill was on-hand to clear the ball off the line.
The side were rewarded for this pressure in the 73rd minute with Kinsella converting Rob Watson’s cross from the right.
It was nearly another quickfire response from the Hearts as Picciolini’s first-time strike from the edge of the box bounced off the base of the left post four minutes later.
One of Watson’s crosses caused trouble again with nine minutes to go seeing a queue of Thistle players take on shots; however, none found the net.
The Thistle added a couple more goals in the final seven minutes of the game.
Despite a superb save from Coad to deny Hope’s original effort from inside the box, he was unable to prevent Patterson from heading in his second goal moments later.
With four minutes to play, substitute Liam Unicomb rounded the goalkeeper to his left and slid a finish into the open goal to make it eight.
The final score finished 8-3 with Helensburgh ending their regular season undefeated.
Unanderra look likely to cling onto a finals position; however, it remains to be seen whether they finish as high as third with the games around them having an impact.
Helensburgh Thistle 8 (Ryan Hope 1’, Joel Mucci 4’, Kade Kinsella 10’ 73’, Charlie Jones 36’, Vaughan Patterson 43’ 83’, Liam Unicomb 86’)
Unanderra Hearts 3 (Mark Picciolini 41’, Tatsuki Nagatsuka 44’ 55’)
Helensburgh Thistle: 1. PAULL Jordan, 2. WATSON Rob, 6. CURREY Blake, 4. HOPE Ryan, 5. BENHAM Jarrod, 8. PATTERSON Vaughan, 14. WATTS Ben, 3. MUCCI Joel, 9. KINSELLA Kade, 13. JONES Charlie, 10. WATTS Brad
Substitutes: 15. UNICOMB Liam (Ben WATTS 72’), 11. HEWSON Blake (MUCCI 67’), 7. VAN ZYL Luke (Brad WATTS 78’)
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Unanderra Hearts: 20. COAD Blake, 3. BELSITO Nathan, 5. DEBROT Luke, 4. GOLDSMITH Jason, 2. KYRIAKOUDES Peter, 6. DELBANCO Robert, 7. PLAKIAS Christian, 12. MEXHUSHI Valentino, 10. NAGATSUKA Tatsuki, 17. MAGILL Dominic, 13. PICCIOLINI Mark
Substitutes: 9. PRENTOSKI Aleksandar (GOLDSMITH 82’), 8. LIDDLE Jonathon (PLAKIAS 46’), 1. SAWADA Kenji, 23. MORIERA Bradley (MAGILL 75’)
Yellow Cards: Jonathon Liddle 88’
Red Cards: Nil
Venue: Ian McLennan Park, Kembla Grange
Date: Thursday, 15 September 2022
Referee: Brendon Fotheringham
Assistant Referees: Lachlan Davidson and Club
Report by Timothy Gibson, on Twitter @TImg123_
Photo by Helensburgh Thistles Soccer Club