Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Elstow Abbey

Competition Cup - Centenary Cup 2nd Round
Result Elstow Abbey 1-1 Sandy 1st Team
Sandy 1st Team lost 2-4 on penalties
Date Saturday 02 February 2013
Kick Off 1.30pm

Match Report

Following last weeks postponement the Quarter Final went ahead at the Warren home of Elstow Abbey with both sides looking to give their season a lift with progress into the Semi Final of the League Cup. Sandy last season's beaten finalists were keen to go on a good run and have a second crack at the troph which they so narrowly missed out on last season. Preparations were thrown into choas though by the absence of Shane Pope and Andrew Wren, meaning that a makeshift back four would start the game with, Nathan Morris playing at left back and JJ slotting in alongside Beally at the heart of the defence. There was a welcome return though for Chris Nicholls who was making a guest appearance after his move back to Bromsgrove, he offered to help out as the squad were short, a choice that his legs are probably regretting right about now. He slotted behind Hammett with Jennings dropping to a holding midfield role.

Sadly Colin Osborne was also missing, as he had to stay home and look after his wife as after being ill for a few days she unfortunately feinted this morning. Everybody at Sandy wishes Diane well, and hopes that she makes a full recovery soon. Anthony Roberts was called up as Colins replacement and he did a sterling job in Ozzy's absence.

After a nice sunny morning, clouds and icy wind had descended on the Warren and Elstow had that wind to their advantage in the first half and with both sides looking rusty the game started as a scrappy affair. The home side settled the better to the conditions and took advantage of Sandy's reshuffle. The big powerful Elstow forward was causing JJ and Beally problems, and Seldon has his hands full with a winger who was cheating and staying forwards. Yossi was working hard at left back as well and Sandy were pinned back in their half. However Elstow weren't troubling Pally in the Sandy goal despite their dominance. 

When Sandy did get the ball they gave it away cheaply, with Hammett unable to hold the ball up front and play breaking down as he, Nicholls, Burgess and Gregory tried to gain a foothold. This was causing problems as against the wind Sandy were struggling to get out of their own half and were constantly on the back foot. They needed the ball to be held up for relief and they failed to test the home sides keeper at all. 

The game was developing into a physical battle, with elbows flying and tasty tackles being made all over the park. Jennings and Gilly were battling in the middle of the park and Beally was the recipient of an elbow from the Elstow forward that left him in a heap on the floor. The ref waved play on and Elstow almost took the lead with Beally on the floor. JJ and Seldon squeezed them out though. Yossi also made a crucial play as he held off the opposition forward and shepparded the ball out for a goal kick. Elstow were winning headers though from goalkicks and squeezing the visitors back.

Both sides were evenly matched though and it was a moment of controversy that broke the deadlock. A long cross field ball was intercepted by Yossi away for a throw in and yet unbelievably the ref awarded a freekick to the surprise of both sides. Elstow didn't need a second invite and they took advantage. They hit the bar with the intial effort and it rebounded to their forward who reacted quickest. Pally saved the initial effort but then it rebounded again and this time there was no mistake as Elstow finished it off from close range. 0-1. The controversy wasn't over though as the linesman had raised his flag. The ref though ignored it, saying that the player wasn't offside as the ball had hit the bar....? strange considering the player had been offside from the initial freekick and the linesman only flagged when he became active. However Sandy were now trailling.

Elstow were bouyant and Sandy were furious and the home side tried to capitalise. Sandy though stood strong and weathered the storm. The back four defended stoically and Elstow were kept at bay with some last ditch defending. Once again there was little to seperate the two teams with goal mouth action at a premium. Burgess did almost get in on the right flank after a ball from Nicholls was played tantilisingly between the keeper and the back four, but as Burgess slid in the keeper was brave and gathered the ball. Hammett did curl a long range free kick into the keepers arm's but Sandy didn't trouble him unduely. This was all there was really to show for the closing stages of the half as it proved to be a bit of a stalemate and Elstow led 1-0 into the break. 

Sandy now had the advantage of the wind in the second half and despite some early pressure from Elstow Sandy were starting get some joy going forward. The team were now settling back into the football they had played the previous few weeks and building some nice football into their play. They couldn't quite find a clear cut chance though and Elstow were managing to protect their one goal lead. Burgess had a good early chance after Ryan Gregory burst into the box and his shot was palmed away by the keeper, but Burgess was flagged for offside as he tried to poke the rebound home.

The game was evenly balanced and could of gone either way. Hammett decided to make changes and switched Sandy to a 4-4-2 formation bringing on Wrenny and Shane Pope as Burgess who had been struggling with an injury was replaced and Gilly also made way. This moved JJ into midfield alongside Jennings and as Elstow began to tire the pair started to dominate. Chris Nicholls moved out on to the right flank and he and JJ combined for JJ to fire a rasping shot towards the top corner only to see the ball tipped superbly over. He tried his luck again a few minutes later, but this time the result wasn't quite as good and the ball went well wide.

Sandy forced three corners in a row and Elstow defended strongly as Beally was well marshalled and Wrenny's effort was blocked away. Ryan Gregory had another shot blocked and Elstow managed to clear. Like Sandy though they were now struggling to get out of their half with Sandy's back four now winning everything in the air and Jennings and JJ making challenges all over the pitch. The visitors were looking more and more dangerous and Wrenny had a half shout for a penalty that was waved away. Beally was also trying to burst forwards and start some counter attacks only to be stopped on a couple of occassions by some dubious tackles that the ref deemed fair.

Elstow did get a couple of free kicks around the edge of the box, but they didn't trouble Pally in the Sandy goal. Hammett and Nathan were now combining well up front and threatening to break free. It was only a couple of overhit passes that stopped them getting into the box. Nicholls did almost equalise but the keeper saved well down low to his right. He was keeping the home side in the game. 

Finally the pressure told and Sandy got back into the contest after a succession of corners, the first missed everybody and Ryan Gregory's shot at the back post was blocked away for another corner. Hammett again swung it into the danger zone and this time Elstow blocked the ball on the line. There were shouts for handball as the Elsotw player clearly acted as a goalkeeper, but the ref waved away Sandy's protests as Elstow cleared it for a throw in. Sandy though persisted and from the throw the ball was launched into the box. it broke to Beally who beat a player and pulled the ball back from the byline to Chris Nicholls whose first time shot was too powerful for the keeper and he could only palm the ball into his net. 1-1

The last fifteen minutes were going to be tasty and Sandy were now dominant and they were pushing forwards, Beally released a long ball over the top and Hammett turned on the turbo to chase the ball down, however he couldn't find Nathan on the in the box and the ball was cleared back to him. Hammett tried to loft the ball back in and it almost looped over the Elstow keeper but he managed to hold on. Nathan then had a chance himself as he broke from deep, but he fired a shot well wide from long range. Nicholls then tried to play Yossi in, but the pass was overhit. Sandy had really found their rythym and were causing all sorts of problems.  However Sandy couldn't find the breakthrough despite their best efforts and the ref bought the game to a close, extra time was looming large for both teams and it was now a battle of fitness for both teams!! 

Extra time started and it was apparent that Sandy had the legs on their opponents, but with the wind against them they had to stay disciplined so as not to get caught on the counter attack. They almost did a couple of times, but Wrenny who had been a rock since he came on and Beally stopped everything. Seldon and Pope were equally as solid and JJ was dominating the central midfield area alongside Jennings who was trying to support both Yossi and Hammett. Nicholls was suffering a little and could of done with the game not going to extra time having not played for months, but he worked tirelessly on the right flank.

Sandy's best chance of the first period of extra time was when JJ released Hammett down the right, Hammett cut in and crossed the ball looking for Jennings who flung himself at the ball, however he couldn't connect and Elstow broke away. A long ball over the top from the home side almost caused problems, but Beally recovered well to clear the danger. Elstow only had long range efforts to show for the half, and with their players becoming more and more frustrated the tackles were flying in. Having seen off their hosts the first period of extra time came to a close with the scores still locked at 1-1. 

Sandy now had the wind again and they pushed forwards looking for the decisive goal that would end the contest. Hammett again linked nicely with JJ as he tried to push forwards but his final ball let him down as he looked to slip Yossi in. Sandy then counter attacked after breaking up Elstow's attack and Ryan Gregory burst forwards into the box, he beat the last defender and with Yossi square for a tap in, he understandably opted to shoot and the keeper saved well at the near post for a corner. Elstow managed to clear the danger though and survived the onslaught. Surely it was only a matter of time.

Elstow did manage to almost get in on the counter attack, but a flying block from Seldon stopped the home side from converting a good chance. The game was finely balanced and the ref wasn't helping by just warning players for terrible tackles. Finally he booked a couple of Elstow players for their conduct, however he also booked JJ for breaking up a fight and having his throat grabbed.. strange considering he then sent off an Elstow sub for just abusing a linesman. The order of the day meant physical violence was obviously allowed. 

The closing stages of the game became a torrent of fouls and freekicks as tempers flared. Sandy were dominating and Elstow were on the back foot and getting frustrated. This finally boiled over with Hammett on the recieving end of a horror challenge that could well of broken the Sandy managers foot/ankle. The ref though still didn't feel the need to react with anything stronger than a yellow card. Hammett managed to complete the game but was visibly struggling. Pope was then himself on the end of a terrible challenge as tempers agin threatened to flare up. Neither freekick came to anything though and with the game ticking down, the ref who by now had totally lost control and bottled his responsibilities blew the final whistle and thankfully bought the game to a close before someone really got hurt. Sandy were understandably aggrieved though as they felt there was more time left when they had the advantage of the wind. 

Final Score 1-1.

It was now going to be the lottery of penalties, something that Sandy have a history of suffering heartache in. JJ confidently offered to take the first kick, yet by his standards it was a tame effort and the keeper saved easily down to his right. Elstow scored their penalty as Pally was sent the wrong way 0-1. Wrenny was the next candidate, but once again the Elstow keeper was equal to the effort as he stood up and tipped the ball over the bar. Once again Elstow punished Sandy, converting their kick with Pally again going the wrong way. 0-2. Yossi was next and finally Sandy registered as the Sandy striker managed to squeeze the ball past the keeper giving Sandy some hope, Elstow scored again, with Pally almost getting near it, but the ball was right in the corner. 1-3 Ryan Gregory stepped up to keep Sandy in the game and duely scored to make it 2-3. However Elstow made it 4 from 4 to break Sandy's resolve and earn the Semi Final place.

It's never a nice way to lose, but Sandy showed some real battle and resolve to take the game to the wire and they will be hoping that they can take this form back into the league when they entertain Pavenham next week at Bedford Road.  

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (7)
2. Richard Seldon (7)
3. Ryan Gregory (7)
4. Mark Jennings (7)
7. Ryan Burgess (7)
8. John-Joe Pekszyc (8)
9. Ian Hammett (7)
13. Nathan Morris (7)
16. David Gill (7)
17. Phil Beall (8)
18. Chris Nicholls (7)


3. Shane Pope (8)
5. Andrew Wren (8)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Chris Nicholls


1 x Phil Beall

Man of the Match:

8. John-Joe Pekszyc


3. Shane Pope
5. Andrew Wren
8. John-Joe Pekszyc
13. Nathan Morris
18. Chris Nicholls


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