Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Ampthill Town Reserves

Competition Cup - Biggleswade Knock Out Cup Semi Final
Result Ampthill Town Reserves 6-1 Sandy 1st Team
Date Wednesday 11 April 2012
Kick Off 7.45pm

Match Report

Sandy travelled to SML Reserve side Ampthill Town in the Biggleswade KO Cup Semi Final as underdogs, knowing that they would have to produce a top notch display if they were going to upset their hosts and claim a place in a second cup final of the season.

All 16 players were available to Manager Ian Hammett, so selection dilemmas were top of the agenda. Matt Evans, Dan Stafford and Chris Nicholls returned to the starting line up as Baker, Seward and Morgan dropped to the bench. JJ was given the nod on the right just ahead of Banfield.

Sandy started the game the stronger side and whilst remaining compact they pressured Ampthill into giving the ball away on a regular basis. With the team pressing as a unit the hosts were forced out of their free flowing football game and into a direct game pumping the ball long where it was easily won by Sandy's back four. Pally as well was reduced to just sweeping up at the back if any of the passes were over hit. Sandy's midfield and front line worked hard in the opening stages to ensure no space was afforded, with Chris Nicholls especially effective both at winning the ball and then starting Sandy flowing forwards. It was from a Nicholls throw that the first half chance came as he found Staf on the edge of the area, and the Sandy striker turned, held off his defender but unfortunatly didn't really catch his shot properly and it went well wide.

Sandy were starting to knock on the door and rattle their hosts who didn't look convincing at the back and from the visitors first corner Mark Jennings cup scoring specialist went close with a powerful header that flew past the upright. A flowing move then almost created a chance for Rob Tapley as Nicholls, Hammett and Pope combined down the left, before Pope curled a ball into the box and into Tapley's path. However the Sandy midfielder couldn't quite bring the ball under his spell and the left back recovered to clear the ball. It was Tapley though who played a part in Sandy opening the scoring as he won a header in the middle of the park, finding the power to put it between the two centre backs. Seizing his chance Staf powered between them, holding them off he got to the ball first and slotted it under the onrushing keeper to give Sandy the lead and launching the crowd into a rendition of 'he scores when he wants'. 1-0.

Ampthill were shocked by the start from Sandy and it seemed had perhaps underestimated their opposition and only some last ditch defending was keeping the visitors at bay. Staf almost got in again as Pope found Hammett down the left and his first time ball across almost found his strike partner but again the left back covered well and got the ball away. Ampthill were offering very little threat themselves going forward, mainly down to solid defending but as is so often the case Sandy were their own worst enemy as on 30 minutes the hosts were back in it with their first attack. The vsisiting side lost the ball and a couple of key players were out of position, Ampthill took advantage and played the ball out to the left, Phil Beall tried to get out to block the cross but the winger squeezed the ball across the box. The forward got in front of Seldon in the middle of the goal, but completely missed his finish, luckily for him the ball hit Seldons standing leg as he went to clear and rebounded into the goal. It was a massive slice of luck that gifted the hosts an equaliser and now they were back in it 1-1.

Two goals in the next six minutes stunned Sandy, but they came from individual errors rather than good team play from Ampthill. Having scored the equaliser their tails were up and they were pressing hard forcing Sandy into mistakes. Matt Evans collected a long ball and then was put under pressure by two players, he couldn't dribble out of trouble and was robbed of the ball leaving the Ampthill striker to bear down on goal and finish calmly past Pally. Moments later Sandy again lost the ball in midfield and another slice of luck for the home side gave them a third, as the through ball hit the back of the Ampthill strikers legs who looked suspiciously offside and rebounded to the winger who took a touch and then fired the ball into the bottom corner with a good finish.

Having dominated the first half Sandy now found themselves 3-1 down, but they responded in the final minutes of the half pushing forwards and winning a couple of corners. Staf almost found a second goal from the first one as he won the ball at the back post but his goalbound header was blocked away for a corner. The second came to nothing and the half came to a close at 1-3.

The game was still in the balance and  the next goal would either spice up the encounter or kill it as a contest and Sandy knew from the off that they were going to have to work hard to get back into the game and right from the kick off in the second half they tried to press the opposition. However it was defensively that they were being undone and five minutes in Ampthill added a fourth as a cross came in from the right hand side and was met at the back post as Sandy failed to clear the ball. The Ampthill striker pulled it down and then fired it past Pally into the far corner.

The fifth came soon after as Sandy seemed to drop their heads and again it was a cross from the right hand side, this time met with a free header at the back post and leaving Pally absolutely no chance at all. Sandy were now reeling and in danger of being embarrassed by their hosts. It seemed that football had deserted them and they constantly looked to pump the ball forward but Ampthill were winning every ball now. Adding to the visitors problems was a referee who seemed to be giving perfectly good tackles as freekicks and the home side were taking full advantage. The sixth goal came from one of these as the ball was floated to the back post, the striker held off the Sandy defence before firing a deflected shot agonisingly over Pally.

The 15 minutes either side of half time had really cost the boys from Sandy and they needed to respond. Phil Beall who had been injured in the first half was replaced as a precaution with Olly Banfield. Banners moved straight onto the right flank with JJ moving back into defence alongside Matt Evans. Sandy seemed to wake up a little and Seldon started to win the ball on the right flank and Nicholls was getting more into the game on the left. Sandy won a corner and the keeper punched clear only for the ball to fall to JJ who hit it first time from the edge of the box on the volley. However his effort sailed just over the bar. JJ then picked up a booking as he tried to challenge for the ball on halfway. 

Sandy were now looking a little more settled and Staf was trying his best to get in behind the defence although he was being shut out on a regular basis. Morgan then replaced Matt Evans at the back and he slotted straight in to the back four.  Sandy then had their best chance to score a second as Seldon rampaged down the right hand side. He then cut the ball back to Hammett, who flciked the ball towards the back post and over the goal keeper only to see the ball rebound back off the bar. It fell to Staf who couldn't quite head the ball goalwards, but he managed to squirm the ball across the box to Banfield who fired a shot wide under pressure.

For the last ten minutes Staf as given a rest and Nathan was brought on up top. Having missed out in the previous Semi Final Nathan was keen to prove a point and he worked hard straight from the off. He won a flick on that saw Hammett get in behind, but he overhit his lob and it sailed over the bar. Hammett then returned the favour as he put Nathan through and Yossi lobbed the keeper with a great finish from twenty yards out only for the goal to be chalked off for offside.

This was to be the last action and the ref's whistle brought the game to a close. Ampthill had deserved their win and Sandy must now pick themselves up after a harsh footballing lesson and build for their last two league games and the cup final. Final score 1-6.



Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (6)
1. Daniel Stafford (6)
2. Richard Seldon (6)
3. Matt Evans (6)
3. Shane Pope (6)
4. Mark Jennings (6)
7. Rob Tapley (6)
8. John-Joe Pekszyc (6)
9. Ian Hammett (6)
17. Phil Beall (6)
18. Chris Nicholls (6)


2. Luke Morgan (6)
13. Nathan Morris (6)
13. Olly Banfield (6)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Daniel Stafford


1 x Rob Tapley

Man of the Match:

18. Chris Nicholls


8. John-Joe Pekszyc


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