Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Christians in Sport (LUTON)

Competition Cup - Beds FA Intermediate Challenge Cup Round 2
Result Christians in Sport (LUTON) 3-3 Sandy 1st Team
Sandy 1st Team lost 2-3 on penalties
Date Saturday 22 October 2011
Kick Off 2.30pm

Match Report

Sandy travelled to Luton to take on Christians in Sport in the 1st Round of the Intermediate Challenge Cup with high hopes of taking something from the tie and making good progress in the competition. Rob Tapley sat the match out with a hamstring niggle picked up last week meaning Chris Nicholls returned to centre midfield and Charlie Seward was handed the chance to start up front alongside Dan Stafford with Ian Hammett filling the right wing slot.

The large pitch was in decent condition meaning that both side could play football, and there was space all over the park. Sandy were keen to take advantage of that space and play some flowing football. However they should of taken the lead as early as the sceond minute through the more direct route. The ball was played forward and the centre back misjudged the flight scuffing it straight into Dan Staffords path, staf took one touch and then with all the time in the world fired an uncharacteristic tame shot straight at the the keeper. This let the home side of the hook and unfortunately set the tone of the afternoon for staf.

Sandy had far the better of the opening exchanges, but occasionally their football was getting them in trouble. Ian Hammett was having a ropey start after JJ had tried to ensure the Christians in Sport left back got the chance to maim Hammett with a 75/25 hospital ball in favour of the luton player. Hammett was a touch shaken after this giving the ball away three times as he feared for his life. Thankfully JJ didn't repeat the kind gesture again. Christians only looked dangerous when Sandy gave the ball away, but with Chris Nicholls and Mark Jennings pulling the strings in midfield and Hammett and Evans finding space down the flanks Sandy's football was dominating proceedings.

Charlie Seward was having a solid game up top, holding the ball well and then moving it on quickly. He linked a couple of times with Hammett and Seldon down the right, and Hammetts crosses tested the Christians Keeper who claimed well for the most part under pressure from Staf. Staf did manage to knock down one cross for Seward who took a touch then fired a shot at goal, but it was straight into the keepers arms. Matt Evans was causing all sorts of problems down the left hand side and he robbed the right back of the ball and then broke into the box, but again his shot was at the keeper.

The chances were beginning to rack up for Sandy but it was the same story as either they missed the target or the keeper saved well. Staf was having a frustrating afternoon as his pace was taking him away from the back line and causing them problems, but whilst his build up play was excellent his usually confident finishing was way off, and he had two more one on ones that he fired at the keeper. His best effort came after some work from Matt evans found him on the left and he cut in to fire his shot just over. Despite his troubles in front of goal he did set up the best chance of the half to wait for it Richard Seldon... Yes folks you heard it right Richard Seldon had the best chance of the first half, as he broke from right back to find himself open in the opponents penalty area.

Staf was found in the channel by Mark Jennings and he powered away, laying the ball across and on a plate for Seldon, who took the ball first time guiding it (scuffing) towrads goal, only for the keeper to palm the ball around the post with a fine save. Hammett then whipped in the corner and Staf headed the ball just over. Depsite the pressure Sandy just couldn't beat the keeper, and there was always the fear that they would be punished. The back four though were having an outstanding game, clearing everything away and looking calm and composed under pressure. Nathan Morris in the Sandy goal hardly had a save to make as Pope, Pekszyc, Beally and Seldon were solid. Christians in Sports left winger was their danger man though and he almost punished the visitors with a mazy run but he fired just past the far post. Morris did make one save from a twenty yard free kick which he tipped over easily, looking untroubled.   

Sandy had more chances to take the lead, Nicholls fired over from a Hammett free kick, Matt Evans shot wide after some good work to win the ball. Jennings had a long range effort that sailed over and Staf fired over from a tight angle when maybe he should of squared it to Seward. The visitors where in the ascendancy and needed to really make it count, however at half time the score was 0-0.

Sandy knew they needed to make their chances count, but it wasn't flowing football that saw them take the lead early in the second half. Sandy won a throw in on the right side and Matt Evans stepped up. Firing in his trademark long throw Evans found Mark Jennings who rose like a salmon through a crowd of players to flick the ball into the empty net. The goal was right out of the Stoke handbook but it didn't matter as Sandy finally had the lead. 

This seemed to be the kick up the bum that the home side needed and they immediatley began to push forwards, looking more enthusiastic for the fight now and giving the andy back line a torrid time. Despite their possession and pressure though Morris still didn't have a save to make and for the most part the team looked solid. Chris Nicholls had got through a lot of work in the middle of the park and he started to cramp up meaning Sandy were forced into a change with Olly Banfield coming on to replace him. Matt Evans moved into the centre of midfield.

Banfield had a chance to finally release the Kracken today, but after good work from Seward and Staf he tried to place his shot into the far corner only to curl it wide from the edge of the box. Staf went on anaother powerful run shortly afterwards but as was his afternoon his shot was wide of the mark. Seward was getting on the ball and spreading it around trying to release the wingers as the visitors looked for the second goal that would kill off the game. Unfortuately it was the home side that got that next goal. Staf gae the ball away at the half way line, but under pressure Sandy won the ball back. the Ball broke to Beally who tried to play his way out of trouble but he was robbed of the ball by three people and then the Christians player was through one on one with Morris and steered the ball calmly past him.

Depsite the setback Sandy didn't crumble. Gedney game on for Seward who had worked his socks off meaning Hammett moved back up top. Sandy searched for a goal that would stop the tie going into extra time and they almost created the chance as Jennings releasde Hammett down the inside right. Hammett was then chopped down on the edge of the box, with the Christians defender taking the booking to stop Hammett squaring the ball to Banfield. Hammett then curled the free kick to the back post but neither staf or Banfield could fire the ball towards goal. Phil Beall and JJ were breaking out of defence trying to add weight to the attacks.  

Shane was pushing forwards down the left. Staf then had another shot from just inside the area left footed that went into the relieved keepers arms. Shane was called into some defensive duty as he headed an inswinging corner off the line to keep the scores level. Sandy did win a corner themselves with the clock ticking down, but Phil Beall headed over under pressure from the defender. Sandy defended well to the end though having recovered from the mishap that had cost them the goal and they saw it through to the end. This meant that the tie would go into extra time. after 90 minutes the score was 1-1. 

Sandy still felt that they were in with a shout and were the better side, but they then endured a poor fifteen minutes that put them right on the back foot. Never really getting started in the first half of extra time, Christians took the lead in strange fashion straight from a corner as the whole Sandy team lost the ball in the sun and it bounced over Shane and into the net at the back post. Within minutes it was then 3-1 as Sandy afforded the striker too much space, he turned created a 2 on 1 with Seldon and then slotted the ball through for the left winger to finish well.

This left the visitors at sixes and sevens and it was only some last ditch tackling and some solid keeping from Morris that kept the score the same. As time was ticking down Hammett made the change switching formation to 4-3-3 bringing Morgan on. This seemed to make some impact as Sandy broke down the right, but with Jennings and Banfield in the box Staf wanted to go alone but again his shot was saved but the Christians keeper who was having a great game. Half time of extra time 1-3.

It was now to be an uphill struggle, but with the wind at their backs Sandy went all guns blazing to get level and in a mad ten minutes they managed it. Immediately putting the Christians goal under siege. Matt Evans had a long range effort tipped over and then Hammett won a corner as he put the defender under pressure. Hammett took the corner, swinging it in and Jennings got some part of his body on it to steer the ball home despite the desperate attempts of the home side to clear the ball off the line.

Sandy poured forwards, Hammett tried to find Banfield in the box but the keeper got there first and then Hammett himself fired wide from a tight angle when put through by Matt Evans. Phil Beall then came to Sandy's rescue as he went on a barnstorming run, he found Hammett down the right. Hammett crossed and found Banfield at the back post. He headed back into Beally's path and Beally stabbed it home from close range. 3-3.

Staf then had a glorious chance to redeem himself and give Sandy the win, Hammett found him with a square ball, but he wanted too many touches in front of goal and the defender recovered to make a saving tackle when it surely would of been 4-3. Both sides kept it tight for the last minute and the game went to the inevitable lottery that is penalties.

JJ stepped up first and scored well, as did the Christians in sport player. However Staf then had his penalty saved low to the keepers right which summed up his afternoon and the Mark Jennings had his saved low to the left of the keeper. Christians scored both theirs to give them a 3-1 lead. Natahn Morris then stepped up and calmly scored Sandy's second before the Christians player fired his penalty over the bar. Hammett stepped up for Sandy's fifth pen, but the keeper saved well high to his right, tipping the ball around the post to give the home side a very lcuky win.

Sandy can be proud of their performance, but disappointed that the game wasn't over after 90 mins. They will now need to look to bounce back next week at home to Meltis Albion. Final score 3-3 aet... 2-3 pens. 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Daniel Stafford (6)
2. Richard Seldon (8)
3. Shane Pope (8)
3. Matt Evans (8)
4. Mark Jennings (8)
4. Charlie Seward (8)
8. John-Joe Pekszyc (8)
9. Ian Hammett (8)
13. Nathan Morris (8)
17. Phil Beall (8)
18. Chris Nicholls (8)


2. Luke Morgan (7)
13. Olly Banfield (7)

Goal Scorers:

2 x Mark Jennings
1 x Phil Beall


1 x Olly Banfield
1 x Matt Evans
1 x Ian Hammett

Man of the Match:

4. Mark Jennings


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