Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Blunham XI

Competition Friendly - Pre Season Friendly
Result Sandy 1st Team 1-2 Blunham XI
Date Wednesday 17 August 2011
Kick Off 6.15pm

Match Report

Sandy hosted 2009/10, 2010/11 Premier Division Champions Blunham at Bedford Road as they continued their build up to the new season, and were once again left to rue missed chances in a game that they should of won.

Still missing some key players through injury, Manager Ian Hammett was forced to shuffle his pack. Charlie Seward returned from a thigh strain to start alongside Staf up front with Hammett switching out to right wing. Olly Banfield was given a start at Left mid and JJ and Luke Morgan formed a new centre back partnership as Birthday boy Beally was still out with a bruised heel. Matt Balls once again deputised for the injured Pally in the Sandy goal.

The home side knew that this would be a tough test, but they started the contest very well and for the first twenty minutes they played some lovely football. Cautious of the quality that Blunham possessed within their team, Sandy battled well to keep shape and cope with the 3-5-2 formation the visitors were playing. Luke Morgan was given the job of marking Chris Dunne, who quite frankly was not used to having someone actually bigger than him marking him. Morgan did an excellent job battling and not giving the big man the chance to link the play. JJ swept up nicely around him aswell and the back four looked solid. Shane Pope whose birthday it also was, worked hard at left back to stifle the attacks down the flanks, as he and Olly 'The Kracken' Banfield were overloaded at times.

Going forward Sandy looked dangerous and they could well of had two or three goals in that first twenty five minutes if it hadn't been for some great goalkeeping from Barry 'Spanner' Ullyat in the Blunham goal. He constantly denied Sandys lead striker Staf with a string of fine saves and fearless keeping. The chances for staf were being created by Charlie as his range of passing was being used fully. Charlie bent a lovely ball over the defence to Staf who was just offside as he headed wide. Then Charlie again found Staf, putting him clean through on goal, however Spanner stayed big and Staf shot wide when he should maybe have gone round the keeper. Staf then got through again, but this time was unlucky not to win a corner as Spanner rushed out to deflect the ball away. Spanner collided with Staf, but luckily although hobbling slightly he managed to continue.

Against the run of play Blunham almost took the lead, as they caught Sandy napping with a quick free kick. The ball was crossed in and JJ seemed to be confused as to how to clear the ball and he got in a muddle. The ball fell to a Blunham player who controlled and shot first time, only to be denied by Ballsy who made a great save to tip it round the post. Although looking nervous at times Matt is an outstanding shot stopper although the team get the feeling that some of his saves really are for the non existant sky sports cameras. Sandy were being pushed on the counter attack but for the most part they stayed strong and repelled Blunham who failed to test Balls on several occassions.

Hammett was starting to find space on the right and his cross found Seward in the box who connected well with a header that just flew wide. Hammett again got involved as he cut inside the box and squared the ball to Charlie, however as he was about to shoot a Blunham player nipped in and stole the ball. Charlie then had an effort from a freekick that was blocked by a defender when heading towards the goal. Hammett again went on a counter attacking run and he slotted Staf thtough, but again Spanner was out quickly to close the ball down.

Despite their pressure it was Blunham that took the lead after an uncharacteristic mistake from Mark Jennings in the Sandy box. The ball looped into the box, and Jennings half clearance was charged down by big Chris Dunne, who then shot from point blank range past Balls giving him no chance at all. Other than this Blunham had not really troubled the home side at all and it was a blow to Sandy's confidence. They did however pick themselves up and finish the half well, with Staf forcing Spanner into another save with his feet and Sandy hunting for the equaliser that didn't arrive. Half time 0-1.

Sandy started the second half in the best possible fashion as they equalised within minutes of the restart. A flowing move almost straight from kick off resulted in Rob Tapley playing a lovely through ball to Olly Banfield down the left, who squared the ball to Staf to slot home into the empty net. Most of us will agree that Olly actually tried to 'release the Kracken' but scuffed it square to Staf by accident, however it didn't matter and Sandy were level.

This was no more than the home side deserved and they looked to push on and put pressure on Blunham to try and take the lead. Olly's nickname changed from Kracken to Bambi a few minutes later as he was suffered a slight kick only to then prance around strangely for several moments, prompting manager Ian Hammett to ask Staf what he thought Banfield was doing. Luckily Olly was able to carry on.

The game became a little scrappy for a period as Blunham established themselves in the second half with Andrew Vallom pulling the strings in centre midfield. However it wasn't glorious football that restored Blunhams lead but more a poor refereeing decision. Vallom whipped a corner into the box, which Sandy defended well only for the ball to drop and clearly hit a Blunhams players hand. This allowed the ball to sit nicely for Matty McMahon to slot the ball home into the top of the net. Sandy appealled loudly but the ref waved it away for an unknown reason. Charlie Seward was almost booked for his remonstration to the ref.

Sandy picked themselves up well after this set back and tried their hardest to find an equaliser again. Matt Gedney replaced Shane Pope at left back and then Sandy lost Mark Jennings to a reccurrence of his ankle injury meaning that JJ had to move to centre midfield alongside Tappers and Olly Banfield moved to centre back. Ryan Gregory came onto the left wing and made some immediate impact, confidently cutting in on his right foot and causing problems. His first effort was deflected wide after beating three players on the edge of the box.

Seward then found staf with another good cross field pass but although staf took the ball down well he steered the ball well wide with his second touch. Blunham were being forced into mistakes at the back at Sandy's fitness showed through. Hammett tried an audacious shot from about forty yards that was more than ambitious as Spanner recovered his position to catch the ball easily. Staf then had a similar effort but he fired his shot from 35 yards out over the bar. Ryan Gregory and Ian Hammett then combined well to set up JJ on the edge of the box. However JJ's mystery bobble that he carries everywhere with him was to reappear and he spooned the shot well over... much to Ryans annoyance.

Sandy couldn't quite find the breakthrough that they needed, but remained strong at the back. Olly looked comfortable alongside Morgan who had an outstanding game himself. Morgan had an ongoing battle with the experienced Dunne, and was well deserving of the man of the match award for a solid performance. Again there were positives to take from the game considering the absentees, and manager Ian Hammett will hope the ten day rest after Saturdays game against Oakley will do his team good for their first competitive game against Potton United Reserves. Final score 1-2.


Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Daniel Stafford (7)
2. Richard Seldon (8)
2. Luke Morgan (8)
3. Shane Pope (8)
4. Mark Jennings (7)
4. Charlie Seward (7)
7. Rob Tapley (8)
8. John-Joe Pekszyc (8)
9. Ian Hammett (7)
13. Olly Banfield (7)


3. Ryan Gregory (8)
22. Chris Gregory (7)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Daniel Stafford


1 x Olly Banfield

Man of the Match:

2. Luke Morgan


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