Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Elstow Abbey

Competition League - Division 1
Result Elstow Abbey 3-2 Sandy 1st Team
Date Saturday 16 February 2013
Kick Off 2.30pm

Match Report

Sandy travelled to Elstow for the second time in two weeks as they looked to avenge their Centenary cup loss and extend their unbeaten league run to seven games. After a feisty match two weeks again that ended 1-1 it was always going to be a test, and the match didn't disappoint. Nathan Morris and Ryan Burgess returned to the match day squad, with Burgess replacing James Hearson who was missing this week and Morris taking his place on the bench after Sandy's 1-0 win last week.

It was a glorious afternoon at the Warren in Elstow, much different to the horrific conditions in the cup and both sides were set fair to enjoy an afternoon of football. Sandy started the stronger of the two sides with JJ and Gilly dictating the midfield and the visiting sides back four picking up where they had left off last week against Pavenham and providing a solid base to build on. Gregory and Burgess were looking dangerous down the flanks with Jennings and Hammett again working in tandem to pressure the Elstow back four into launching long balls, which were gobbled up by Sandy.

It quickly became apparent that Elstow's left back was there weakest link and Burgess was attempting to take advantage early on, driving at him at every opportunity and then linking well with Hammett. The Sandy forward was giving good options as he dropped deep off the home sides back four and then some nice simple touches were bringing Jennings, JJ and Gregory into the play. The support players were then spreading the ball well and creating opportunities. Burgess was the first to test the keeper as he cut inside of the flank exchanged passes and the hit a left foot shot. He didn't catch it too well though, but the keeper had to tip it around the post. The resulting corner then caused problems, as the home side keeper stretched but couldn't quite catch the ball, however Elstow scrambled the ball clear.

Ryan Gregory then got in on the action as Hammett tried to find Jennings with a cross, which was cleared to Gregory whose first time effort with his left foot sailed past the the far upright, far closer than the Elstow keeper expected. It was one way traffic, with Elstow struggling to get out of their half. Seldon was cutting out cross field passes well that were aimed at Elstow's tricky left winger, and Beally and Wrenny were stoic in defence, giving nothing away. Pope also had his hands full with a tricky winger who threatened to get in but they were having no joy. Sandy felt it was only a matter of time before they took the lead and they came very close when JJ was felled midway into the half. Hammett chipped the freekick in and Wrenny had a free header that he directed against the post, moments later a carbon copy almost happened. This time it was Burgess who won the freekick, Hammett again chipped it in this time finding Jennings who couldn't quite direct his header goalwards. The visitors were literally banging the door down now.

Finally the pressure told and Sandy got a reward for their efforts, with no surpise it being created down the home sides left flank. Seldon burst forwards and played a one two with Jennings. The Sandy Captain the got round the full back and crossed the ball. The keeper couldn't hold it and Hammett was on hand to tap the ball over the line for his fourth goal of the season. It was no more than Sandy deserved. It did though serve to galvanise the home side into action though and they started to get back into the contest. They won a freekick on the edge of the box that was fired over, and then Pally had to hold a shot from range. This was all he had to do other than take the odd goal kick, but he was helpess to stop the home side getting luck and finding an unexpected equaliser. There was a fair amount of suspicion of handball in the build up to the goal, as Gilly closed down the player on the edge of the box, however the ball somehow found it's way to an Elstow player who was free on the edge of the box. He fired a shot across the goal which took a horrible deflection off Beally who threw himself in the way, unfortunately Pally had already dived and the ball went in giving him no chance. It was harsh luck on both the Sandy centre back and keeper.

Sandy had been by far the better team, but rotten luck had bought the scores level and it took the visiting side a few minutes to settle back down into their football as Elstow hurried and harried them. They did though start to dominate once again though and JJ fired a shot just over the bar from long range as it sat up nicely. Jennings then threatened to get in as did Gregory. Burgess was still causing all sorts of problems and he almost slotted Hammett in behind but just miss hit his pass. Despite the dominance Sandy couldn't quite test the keeper again and the half time whistle went with the scores still all square. Half time 1-1

Just like the cup game it was proving to be a close encounter, and looking like the odd goal would seperate the two sides. Sandy started the second half well again and weren't giving Elstow a sniff in front of goal. Defences from both teams were now in the ascendancy with chances few and far between. With Sandy being so compact the home side were just looking to launch balls all the time as any attempt to play flowing football was nullified by the visitors. However with the pitch starting to cut up, Sandy were misplacing their passes and giving possession back to the opposition all too cheaply at times.

Everybody was working hard and this was epotimised by Burgess who picked up a booking early in the half after catching the centre back with a sliding tackle in his attempts to win the ball. Sandy were trying to isolate the flying winger with the left back, but the final ball was just letting them down. Elstow gradually then started to get more of a foothold in the game as they started to find their passing. Pally was called into action as he made an excellent save at the near post when they got down the left flank. A nice one two evaded Seldon and the ball was driven in and met at the near post by the forward, but Pally smothered the ball well. Some last ditch defedning then from Seldon and Beally contrived to clear the ball again when the home side threatened to take the lead.

For minutes it was back to the walls stuff, until Sandy launched a counter attack led by Beally. Going on a trademark run that epitomised his play last season the tall Sandy centre back strode forward beating two players and then laying the ball off to Hammett who then returned it down the right wing. Beally burst on and he pulled the ball back, but it was just behind Hammett who helped it on it's way into the path of Ryan Gregory whose goal bound shot was blocked by the flying Elstow centre back. It was the motivation that Sandy needed though and they began to re-establish themselves. However just as it seemed that they were dominating again, they were caught out.

A long ball out from the back seemed to cause a bit of mayhem and the visiting side couldn't clear the ball. This led to the home side working the ball out to the right and a dangerous ball was put in, although blocked at the near post it fell to the left winger who had run right across the box unchecked and despite a desperate lunge from Wrenny he fired the ball into the roof of the net to give the home side the lead. Sandy now had to push if they wanted to maintain their unbeaten record, so they switched to a 4-4-2, with Jennings now on the left and Morris who had come on to replace Burgess up top with Hammett.

Elstow relaxed and Sandy took advantage pressing forwards. They won a succession of corners as a result of the pressure and almost equalised from the first as Beally won a header which fell to Wrenny at the back post but the keeper tipped his effort over the bar. The next corner again found Beally but this time his header was deflected wide, and although Sandy hoped to be third time lucky the keeper punched Morris's corner away under pressure. Elstow were now unable to get out of their half. Gilly was finding space and JJ was still working his socks off. Seldon burst forwards again from right back and exchanged passes with Jennings but couldn't thread the ball through and Jennings then almost got on to a return pass from Hammett but the ball was cleared.

Sandy were knocking at the door and eventually they punched through as Hammett won a corner. He took it and again found Beally. This time the centre backs header was only have cleared and fell nicely to Jennings who hit the ball on the volley to see it glance of a defenders head and nestle in the corner of the net!! 2-2. Sandy were now looking for the winner and Elstow were rocking.  

The next fifteen minutes proved to be end to end stuff, with both sides trying to find away through and almost getting caught out. With the clock running down it was looking like a draw but in the final minute the home side made the decisive move and had the luck. Sandy lost possession in the middle of the park when it looked like they might break on the counter, and the home side launched the ball into the Sandy box. The visiting side agonisingly couldn't clear the ball, bodies were flying everywhere and a couple of attempts were blocked before the ball fell to an Elstow player who kept his head and slotted the ball into the bottom corner past an unsighted Pally. 3-2. Elstow went wild and Sandy were stunned. The luck had been against them again with it falling kindly to that player, and there was nothing they could do with just 25 seconds on the clock.

There was one last throw of the dice though as Gregory took a freekick from halfway and drilled it into the box, but Elstow cleared and the ref blew his whistle!! Hearts were broken as Sandy knew how important this game had been, but somehow after defending so well they had conceeded three unlucky goals and were on the wrong end of the 3-2 scoreline. They will now look to pick themselves up as they go to Henlow next week. Final score 2-3. 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (8)
2. Richard Seldon (7)
3. Shane Pope (8)
3. Ryan Gregory (8)
4. Mark Jennings (8)
5. Andrew Wren (8)
7. Ryan Burgess (8)
8. John-Joe Pekszyc (8)
9. Ian Hammett (8)
16. David Gill (7)
17. Phil Beall (8)


13. Nathan Morris (7)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Ian Hammett
1 x Mark Jennings


1 x Richard Seldon

Man of the Match:

17. Phil Beall


7. Ryan Burgess


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