Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Bedford SA

Competition League - Division One
Result Bedford SA 1-2 Sandy 1st Team
Date Saturday 17 December 2011
Kick Off 2.00pm

Match Report

Sandy travelled to third place Beds SA in search of their eight league win in nine games knowing that it would also be a tough test of their promotion credentials. Beds SA had also had a strong start to the season and a win for either side was sure to thrust them straight into the title race when the league fixtures resume in 2012.

Sandy were bolstered by the return of JJ Pekszyc and Charlie Seward who had been absent from the Meppershall fixture, but both were to start on the bench as manager Ian Hammett started with the same 11 players that led them to the win against FC Meppershall. Nathan 'Yossi' Morris was absent with a touch of the dreaded man flu.

The visitors knew that a quick start would be essential against the physicality and toughness of their hosts. Straight from the off it was apparent that both sides were evenly matched and it was going to be a close afternoon. Sandy began though at a high tempo and alot got immediate rewards as Baker slipped the ball through to Staf. Staf was a little surprised the defender didn't block the pass, but he took the ball into the box and then stabbed it with the outside of his boot towards the far corner but the keeper plucked the ball out of the air. Sandy were then almost in again as Baker burst through a crowd of players and into the box, he had options of Chris Nicholls and Ian Hammett, and he laid the ball square to Nicholls whose eyes lit up. However the Beds SA defender recovered and slid in to block the ball before Chris could get his shot away.

With the visiting side knocking at the door, Beds SA resorted to a long ball game but Matt Evans and Phil Beall were equal to everything that was thrown at them with Pally mopping up well behind them. The Beds SA forwards though were hustling and harrying the back four giving them no time and space and on the odd occassion winning the ball in dangerous places. Richard Seldon and Shane Pope weren't getting the space they usually have and as such their distribution suffered a little, however their strong tackling and constant battling kept the hosts at bay. Sandy did almost have a scare as the first of many strange refereeing decisions almost let Beds SA in. Matt Evans was trying to shadow the ball out, and the forward fouled him and the ball ran out of play. The ref waved play on and it was a last ditch block by Phil Beall that stopped a tap in for the hosts. For the first time Sandy players saw angry Matt as he chased the ref down, somehow avoiding talking himself into the book.

Sandy then dominated for the next passage of play as Mark Jennings won most 50/50 balls in the middle of the park and Oli Banfield managed to seem to win a freekick every time he touched the ball as he was taking quite a battering. From one such freekick Hammett found Nicholls who flicked the ball on and almost found Staf at the back post who although he kept it in had his shot blocked. Chris Nicholls was really in the thick of things as he found space from the centre of midfield just on the edge of the box. He had a few sighters before he crashed the ball against the bar with a rasping drive from 20 yards. The shot deserved to give Sandy the lead but it rebounded away to safety. Baker was causing problems on the left as he drifted inside trying to infleunce play and Hammett got an opportunity to deliver a cross after and exchange with Baker. His cross found Banfield at the back post but he could only direct a tough header wide. Hammett then had a shot from range himself as he cut in off the left, but the keeper saved easily.

Patience seems to be the order of the day for Sandy these days and finally they took a hard earned lead through Matt 'Angry' Evans. after a couple of phases of play that saw Sandy win a corner Hammett drilled the ball in and Matt Evans headed home through a crowd of players from 12 yards out. It was no mor than Sandy deserved, but they when then to come out to a barrage of pressure from the home side. Everyone in the back four was winning their personal battle with little help from the match official who seemed to give a freekick for every good tackle that was made by either side, luckily though the strange decisions didn't cost Sandy and they cleared the ball away well on several occassions.

Pally was having a busier afternoon than he had had for weeks, but was probably pleased to keep warm. The Sandy stopper although having no shots to save was required to punch away and claim several difficult crosses against a team that are good in the air. He did so well each time to get the ball away from the danger zone and then launch Sandy counter attacks as soon as he could.

Chances through the rest of the half were few and far between for both sides, although Chris Nicholls, Dan Stafford and Mark Jennings all had shots charged down and Baker fired a shot wide, however the scores were to stay the same at half time. 1-0 Sandy.

Sandy had been in this position before, and they had learnt from their mistakes, coming out in the second half with excellent focus the visitors were determined to put in a performance their form demanded. Right from the off they put Beds SA on the back foot, and this time they were able to capitilise as Jennings burst forward from midfield his touch found Staf on the edge of the box, who held off the defender spun and then fired a shot low into the bottom corner giving the Beds SA keeper no chance at all.

This was just what Sandy had been looking for and what their performance had deserved. It also settled a few nerves amongst the away side and they relaxed in their play which in turn created more openings. hunting in packs they were also winning the ball back high up the pitch relieving presssure on their back four and stifling the home sides play. Banfield who was having a solid game then produced a moment of magic that was only equalled by the save that the keeper made. Picking the ball up in the middle of the park he drove forward, using a trick or two to weave between two players he then fired a kracken-esk shot which did everything but ripple the net as the Beds SA keeper tipped the ball over the bar with a great save.

This was to be the first of many saves that the keeper made to deny Sandy further goals. He then made his second from Matt Evans who broke down the right flank and then fired a powerful shot on target. The keeper was again equal to it and tipped it over. Bealy then headed just wide from a the resulting corner as Sandy were causing no end of problems. Matt Evans had now moved to the right flank as Banfield was replaced by JJ who slotted back into his customary centre back position. Despite Sandys dominance they were coming under increasing pressure from the home side as they looked to impose their physicality on Sandy.

For the most part the visitors matched the intensity, but from a set piece there was always the chance that they would capitilise and with 25 mins left they did. A good cross was delivered in from a corner and the Beds SA number 8 just got to the ball before Chris Nicholls to head the ball powerfully into the roof of the net and get the home side back into it. Usually though Sandy have been ruffled, but today was different as they settled straight back into their flow. Chris Nicholls was dominating the middle with Jennings who was making some fantastic challenges to the frustration of Beds SA. The back four were again working hard clearing everythig away and Phil Beall was back to his go-go gadget legged best as he got to everything, blocking shots, making tackles and clearing the ball well.

Hammett then replaced himself with Seward to try and get the play held up more, but it was the home side who almost equalised as from another set piece a player found some space but crashed his shot against the bar with Pally beaten. Sandy reacted and pressured the Beds SA player to hit the rebound high wide and handsome. This near miss spurred the home side into life and it was only the Beds SA keeper that kept the scores close. Staf was released down the right by a long ball from JJ, and he carried the bouncing ball into the box. It sat up nicely and he tried a shot to the far corner, which the keeper somehow tipped onto the far post with a flying save that was greeted with applause by pretty much everyone. Mark Jennings then had another attempt that brough great reactions from the keeper as he found space on the edge of the box and crashed a venomous shot towards goal. The keeper got the slightest of touches on the ball to tip it onto the bar and then just as Staf shoved Charlie out the way to head the ball into the empty net, the goalie sprung up and tipped the header remarkably away.

The keeper was having a worldy of an afternoon in the sticks and his saves made everyone think that perhaps the hosts could get something from the game and they pured forwards. Baker decided that he'd keep giving free kicks away, but Sandy dealt with everything and never gave the hosts another sniff of goal. Staf again almost made it three with the clock ticking down but as he cut inside he fired a powerful shot straight into the arms of the keeper who in this sort of form wasn't going to make a mistake. Matt Evans then almost got in at the back post as Charlie found him with a through ball, but he scuffed his shot wide under pressure from the defender.  

Everyone of the Sandy players worked their butts off to ensure that they held on to what they had and hold onto it they did. Finally Sandy had been rewarded with a top notch performance against another top side in the league. The win see's Sandy move up to 3rd spot and in with a real chance if they can keep their run of form going into the new year. Well done lads. Final score 2-1. 


Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (8)
1. Daniel Stafford (8)
2. Richard Seldon (8)
3. Matt Evans (8)
3. Shane Pope (8)
4. Mark Jennings (9)
9. Ian Hammett (8)
11. Craig Baker (8)
13. Olly Banfield (8)
17. Phil Beall (9)
18. Chris Nicholls (8)


4. Charlie Seward (8)
8. John-Joe Pekszyc (8)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Daniel Stafford
1 x Matt Evans


1 x Ian Hammett
1 x Mark Jennings

Man of the Match:

17. Phil Beall


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