Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Ampthill Town Reserves

Competition Friendly - Pre Season Friendly
Result Ampthill Town Reserves 0-1 Sandy 1st Team
Date Wednesday 03 August 2011
Kick Off 7.45pm

Match Report

Sandy stepped up their pre season preparations with an outstanding performance against SML Reserve Div 2 side Ampthill Town Reserves. Sandy knew that if they took the positives from their last performance and built on it then they would prove to be more than a match for their hosts and they responded to Manager Ian Hammetts insturctions throughout.

The team showed two changes from Saturdays defeat, with JJ slotting into centre back alongside Phil Beall and Matt Evans moving out to the right wing. Richard Seldon also returned to the starting line up at the expense of Olly Banfield.

The visitors settled quickly and should of taken the lead in the second minute, as Dan Stafford released Ian Hammett down the left channel, but Hammett's underhit lob was well saved by the Ampthill keeper who stayed on his feet. This was to be the sign of things to come as Sandy dominated for long periods during the first half and put Ampthill under all sorts of pressure. Matt Evans settled quickly into his new position on the right of the midfield and it was his through ball that again released Hammett. Hammett left footed cross to Staf was blocked and from the resulting corner Sandy almost took the lead.

The ball was delivered into the near post where Chris Nicholls challenged for it, the ball broke to Phil Beall who twisted and turned his way past four players, but could only fire his shot into the side netting. Sandy then suffered an injury blow as Rob Tapley landed awkwardly on the hard pitch and twisted his ankle quite badly, it was tough for Tapley who had been keen to play against his old side only lasting fifteen minutes. Chris Nicholls switched to centre midfield and Olly Banfield came on, on the left flank. This injury was then followed by a small period of pressure from the home side but JJ marshalled the Sandy defence superbly well and formed a formidable partnership with Phil Beall. Shane Pope and Richard Seldon were also enjoying splendid performances at each full back position. Mark Jennings also tweaked his ankle moments before Tapley, but in true Jennings 'i will not be broken' fashion he soldiered on to last 90 minutes.

Some of the best football of the half though was being played by Sandy and it was a flowing move down the left side that produced another quality chance. Banfield, Nicholls and Hammett combined nicely for Hammett to find Nicholls on the edge of the box. When it looked like he was going to shoot he laid a beautifully weighted pass into Staf in the box, but the keeper saved well down to his left as Staf poked the ball goalwards. Despite their pressure Sandy couldn't find the breakthrough and were almost undone from an Ampthill free kick. The kick was launched into the box and the Ampthill forward met the ball with a looping header. However Pally pulled out a great flying save to tip the ball round the post and keep the scores level.

Sandy though managed to stay firm and repelled every attack that the home side produced. When they had the ball Sandy were also taking far better care of it than they had in the previous game and some flowing football produced a series of set pieces. Somehow though Ampthill managed not to concede from these as Sandy failed to convert the pressure into a goal. Staf thought he might of won a penalty as he appeared to be brought down when through on goal, but the ref waved play on as he judged it to be an accidental coming together between defender and striker, some others may have seen differently. The rest of the half though passed without incident and Sandy felt themselves to be unlucky not to go in at half time ahead. Half time 0-0.

Ampthill made many changes at half time and fielded almost a totally changed outfield 11 bringing on several pairs of fresh legs that were severely going to test Sandy's resolve and pre season fitness. that being said this was exactly what the visitors needed. Sandy made one change replacing JJ with Luke Morgan at centre back for his first outfield run out in pre season. The home side probably started the second half the stronger as their substitutes obviously felt they had a point to prove. However Jennings and Nicholls were forming a solid partnership in centre midifeld and Morgan had slotted in comfortably to centre back winning most long balls in the air, with Phil Beall working well in tandem beside him.

Five minutes in and Sandy restored order to the proceedings again as they began to dominate. Some more intricate football was creating space down the flanks and Matt Evans was exploiting this down the right hand side. Enjoying his new found role and freedom within in the team he was causing all sorts of problems and his direct style of play was winning many set pieces. Again Hammett's delivery form these was spot on and Ampthill were often defending for their lives as the penalty box and goal came under increasing pressure. Both Olly Banfield and Phil Beall had chances to score from corners but their headers sailed wide.

Twenty minutes into the half and the deadlock was finally broken, as Chris Nicholls played a wonderful diagonal ball in behind the Ampthill Left back. Matt Evans used his pace to blow past the defender and then coolly lobbed the advancing keeper to score a splendid goal. This was no more than the visitors had deserved, even though it still seemed to stun the home team. Sandy were defending well as a unit and having taken the lead they showed no signs that they were willing to relinquish it. They could of had a second goal when Chris Nicholls burst from midfield commiting defenders he then slotted the ball into Hammett down the right channel, but his first time shot was saved well by the replacement keeper. Staf then had another chance as well after Evans made a break down the right and laid the ball for Hammett to cross. Hammett found Staf in the box but the keeper def;ected the header away for a corner.

Ampthill were pushing forwards and trying to create opportunities, but Sandy's defending was strong. Luke Morgan putting in a strong performance and Phil Beall were cutting everything out and Sandy's shape was proving impossible to break down. Pally didn't really have another save to make other than the first half, however he collected crosses with calm authority as and when required.

Richard Seldon and Shane Pope were even taking the opportunity to burst forwards from the full back positions and create further options for the away side, linking the play together nicely. Matt Evans was given a rest with fiftenn minutes to go and Olly Banfield switched over to the right flank. He exchanged passes with Hammett who then fired a shot just wide from twenty yards out. Banfield then had a chance himself with a shot on the turn down the right channel but it was blocked away for a corner. Staf then had one last chance to get on the score sheet as Hammett broke down the left and delivered a good cross into the danger area only for the ball to skim off Stafs head and go wide. Sandy were desperate to get the second goal and it almost came courtesy of a Phil Beall header in the dying moments. Again from a corner Beally rose high and headed the ball against the bar, and even though he got to the rebound first he couldn't keep it down.

Sandy stayed solid and managed to comfortably hold on for a well deserved pre season win. The communictaion and teamwork amongst the side had been second to none and it ensured a very good Sandy performance. Vitally as well the visitors fitness was strong and showed that they could remain competitive for a full 90 minutes against a good quality, young, fresh side. Sandy will be hoping to continue their pre season preparartions with another win against Elstow Abbey on Saturday. Final Score 1-0. 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (9)
1. Daniel Stafford (9)
2. Richard Seldon (9)
3. Shane Pope (9)
3. Matt Evans (9)
4. Mark Jennings (9)
7. Rob Tapley (7)
8. John-Joe Pekszyc (9)
9. Ian Hammett (9)
17. Phil Beall (9)
18. Chris Nicholls (9)


2. Luke Morgan (9)
13. Olly Banfield (9)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Matt Evans


1 x Chris Nicholls

Man of the Match:

18. Chris Nicholls


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