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Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Arlesey Town Reserves

Competition Friendly - Pre Season Friendly
Result Sandy 1st Team 2-1 Arlesey Town Reserves
Date Thursday 16 August 2012
Kick Off 6.30pm
Attendance19

Match Report

Sandy continued their pre season work against Premier Division Arlesey Town Reserves with what can only be described as the bare bones of a squad, but if the performance is anythig to go by then the home side have some very promising squad depth this year. Missing no less than 9 squad players, Manager Ian Hammett despite suffering a broken nose on Saturday had to play the first five minutes in a cameo role as Chris Nicholls was late for his duties as the lone striker because he was waiting for a fridge.

This was not part of the plan for manager Hammett who at the hands of teammate Richard Seldon (who was fit to play) would now be out for 6 weeks. Other Regulars such as JJ (Knee), Beally (Knee), Baker (Groin) were also missing through injury, Gippo had ridiculously gone on holiday during Pre Season and Staf had to play for Flitwick Eagles to help them out. This left the team short of cover and Matt Dear signed to the team and played a second half role to help.

Seemingly having learnt the lessons of their previous games Sandy started well, keeping possession and moving the ball out quickly and accurately and the team looked to have a nice balance to it. David Gill was partnered by Dan Bailey in the holding roles and they worked well in tandem. This freed up Mark Jennings to play off Chris Nicholls in what seemed to prove a managerial masterstroke as the system worked well. Gregory making his first start after strong performances looked comfortable on the right and Banfield worked hard on the left. This was all built on the solid platform of the back five as Pally was loud and vocal and Morgan and Wrenny gelled together quickly at the heart of the defence. With the usually reliable Pope on the left and Seldon managing not to headbutt anyone the team outplayed the opposition in the first half. 

Sandy passed with confidence and it wasn't long before the first chance was created. A nice move culminated with Ryan Gregory and Chris Nicholls combining well before Nicholls slipped the ball into Mark Jennings path who burst past him and into the box. Through on goal Jennings didn't quite find the finishing form of last season and dragged a tame shot into the arms of the grateful keeper. This was to prove a warning to the visitors though as Sandy's fluid team play was causing no end of problems. Most impressive though was there work without the ball as they pressed and harried as a team, forcing the Arlesey back four to retain most of the possession and continually give it away up the park. They had to resort to long ball tactics and Sandy's aerially dominant back four lapped it up winning everything. Morgan also decided that anything played into the strikers feet was going to end up with the striker on his bum, and he used his physical dominance to frustrate the Arlesey player to the point where he was subbed off after proving ineffective for twenty minutes. 

During this time Sandy could and should of had a hat full of goals. Jennings was again to profit from some quick thinking as Olly Banfield found him in the box with a long throw, some delightful skill by the big man ensured he beat his defender and this time the keeper saved well down to his left. Jennings then missed another chance to give Sandy the lead as a Ryan Gregory corner found him at the back post, but he could only stab his effort wide. It was looking like being one of those games for Sandy as Nicholls and Banfield combined well culminating in Banners flicking the ball over the defenders head and although it dragged him a little wide he rifled a left foot shot towards goal only to agonisingly see the keeper produce an excellent strong save to keep the ball out.

Mid way through the half Sandy finally made a breakthrough though as some intricate play down the right allowed Ryan Gregory to find Chris Nicholls with his back to goal. Nicholls turned bided his time and then slot a return pass to Gregory who timed his run to perfection. Through and clear into the box, the keeper anticipated that Gregory would try to square the ball to Jennings and came a little too far off his line and Gregory totally mishit his cross Rifling it into the back of the net and taking the keeper completely by surprise. It was a great team goal that was well deserved based on the run of play.

Sandy were enjoying the lions share of possession and made Arlesey look mediocre at times. Gilly was popping the ball around well and Sandy were showing great patience to build and not try to force the ball up front. Jennings was causing havoc as well and he almost opened his account for the day after another exchange with Nicholls only to kcik the floor as he dragged his left foot shot wide. Bailey and Gilly were keen to get in on the act as well exchanging nicely and moving up the pitch when the opportunity arose.

Morgan and Wrenny were dominant in the air and didn't give the Arlesey strikers a sniff of goal and Seldon and Pope didn't allow anything to get down the wings. Pally in the Sandy goal was reduced to a virtual spectator not being required to do much more than collect the ball for goal kicks. He did have to produce a good piece of handling from one dangerous cross/shot, but he held the ball well under pressure from a forward ghosting in. Any other time Arlesey managed to get a shot off it was from long range and Pally tended to watch them fly by. Sandy also worked hard to try and play the ball out from the back as well. using the spaces available to them on the large Bedford Road pitch. Looking solid, Sandy went in at half time with a well deserved 1-0 lead.

Arlesey were always going to come out in the second half and try to impose themselves on the game and they shifted a couple of players around which ensured that for the first few minutes they kept the ball better than they had in the first period. Sandy though still held their shape well and pressed working as a unit to ensure that they only had the possession in areas that were of no danger. This also meant that Sandy then looked very dangerous on the counter attack and early into the half they doubled their lead. Ryan Gregory closed down well on the right flank forcing Arlesey to play a square ball which Dan Bailey intercepted as he burst through the middle. Taking a touch to get it out of his feet he bore down on goal and calmly slotted the ball past the keeper.

Sandy were now looking comfortable again and they began to spread the ball around, playing it long when in trouble and utilising the pace of Chris Nicholls so much so that at times the midfield couldn't keep up with him to support. On one such occassion he burst down the left finally managing to break away from a Usain Bolt impersonator that was chasing him, and from the narrowest of angles he placed his Left foot shot agonsingly wide of the far post with no one able to get there to have the simplest of tap ins. Nicholls then had another chance where he will feel he should of added to the score as he was through one on one after being released by Matt Dear who had come on as sub for Gilly, however this time the speedy Arlesey defender reovered in the nick of time to close him down and stop what would of been almost certainly a third goal. 

Matt Dear was making his Sandy debut and was now alongside Dan Bailey in the middle, most of the play though was now coming down the left flank and Olly Banfield was seeing a lot of the ball. On only his second game back from injury though he was lacking that explosive burst that we are so used to seeing and was becoming increasingly frustrated, however he did get a chance to grab a goal as some nice play between Nicholls and Jennings allowed him to cut inside and Nicholls laid the ball into his path only for the 'Kracken' to remain firmly in the box as he blazed his shot wide.

With twenty minutes to go Gilly replaced Olly with Bailey moving out to the right and it almost had an immediate impact as Gilly floated a lovely freekick over the back four and into the feet of deadly finisher supreme Mark Jennings who beat the offside trap. With his back to goal though Jennings faired no better than his previous attempts and Arlesey recovered to clear the ball. Obviously Mark had left his shooting boots off for today.

The visitors for all Sandy's possession were still in the game and their centre back was starting to step out and commit defenders. he went on one such run where he broke through the middle of the park and created an opening only for Mark Pallister to save well down to his left hand side. Wrenny and Morgan were still dominant at the back, and Pope was becoming more involved as they tried to play their way out from the back, often very succesfully to Arleseys frustration. With the game winding down though Sandy almost added a third when Ryan Gregory tried another audacious cross/shot. this time though the keeper was well aware of his trickery and saved well at the near post.

Colin Osborne, linesman extrordinaire then decieded that Arlesey deserved a favour as he awarded them a throw which was blatantly Sandy's. The team furious with Colin, switched off for a moment and with three minutes to go the visiting side had their goal as from the throw a midfielder picked it up, dribbled past four people and into the box before firing low into the bottom corner leaving Pally with little chance. Thanks Colin.... although perhaps the four missed tackles were more to blame.

Sandy though held on to the 2-1 lead for a well deserved win, and really the scoreline flattered the opponents as it should, and could of easily been more. Manager Ian Hammett was full of praise for his charges on what proved to be an excellent evenings work. Sandy will now entertain Oakley on Saturday as they continue their preparations. Final score 2-1. 

 

 

 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (9)
2. Luke Morgan (9)
2. Richard Seldon (9)
3. Shane Pope (9)
3. Ryan Gregory (9)
4. Mark Jennings (9)
5. Andrew Wren (9)
13. Olly Banfield (9)
15. Daniel Bailey (9)
16. David Gill (9)
18. Chris Nicholls (9)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Ryan Gregory
1 x Daniel Bailey

Assists:

1 x Chris Nicholls

 

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