Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Henlow

Competition League - Division One
Result Sandy 1st Team 4-1 Henlow
Date Saturday 07 January 2012
Kick Off 2.00pm

Match Report

Ater a successful first half of the season Sandy were looking to make an immediate impact on their return to action after the Christmas Break. Having won 8 of their last 9 games, the home side were entertaining Henlow who were on a good run themselves having been unbeaten for their last six games. Sandy knew it would be a tough test, but manager Ian Hammett had a relatively full squad to choose from as both Rob 'Glass Boy' Tapley and Luke Morgan returned from Hamstring injuries. Charlie Seward and Nathan 'Yossi' Morris were both unavailable due to illness.

The home side were keen to start quickly and pressure the home side from the off, both sides looked at little rusty as the game started but it soon settled into a rhythm. JJ had been restored to the heart of the defence alongside his long lost brother Beally and both immediately fell back into a solid unit ensuring that Mark Pallister was hardly troubled in the Sandy goal. Matt Evans was moved out to the right of midfield and Baker was given the nod to start on the left ahead of a understandably disappointed Olly Banfield.

During the early exchanges though the Sandy midifeld dominated the play, winning ball after ball and harrassing the visitors into all sorts of mistakes. They tried to resort to the long ball to get out of their half but the back four mopped up everything with ease. Dan Stafford had the best of the early chances for Sandy as first he was put through by Jennings who won the header from a goalkick, but Staf shot wide and then Baker slotted the Sandy forward through on goal but again he fired wide. Phil Beall also made a good early break from the back as he burst down the left flank beating players at will, but his left foot cross curled into the side netting, instead of findig Staf at the back post. Staf did think he had given the Sandy an early lead, after he won a free kick on the left flank with a splendid dive. Hammett swung the free kick high into the box and Beally jumped in front of the keeper. The Henlow stopper dropped the ball at Stafs feet and he poked it home only for the ref to blow up for a freekick which could only of been given for a foul on the Henlow keeper by a Henlow player. This was not to be the last strange decision from the ref.

Despite Sandys pressure they hadn't capitilised and almost let the visitors in as the made a nice flowing move which almost releasde Beallys Nemesis Giuseppe Fallano. However Fallanos first touch wasnt the best and allowed Beally to recover and get between the strike and Pally to deflect the attempted lob away for a corner. Despite Henlows size Sandy were defending the set pieces well and Paly was claiming the ball and punching clear when he could. Richard Seldon was being occupied well by the left winger so wasn't able to get forward as much as he'd of liked, but Shane Pope on the left was enjoying a large amount of space. Baker was even deciding to use the left back for a change and Pope curled a couple of crosses into the box that Henlow cleared well.

Sandy were playing good football with Nicholls and Jennings working well at the heart of the midfield and it was only going to be a matter of time before they took the lead. They had their opportunity as Staf won a freekick on the edge of the box about 25 yards out. Hammett stepped up, but his curling effort crashed into the wall but fortunately rebounded straight to him. Shane Pope had crept up onto the left edge of the box and Hammett found him in acres of space. Pope took one touch and then with Daniel Alves type power drilled the ball across the box and in off the far post to give Sandy a 1-0 lead. It was Shanes first goal of the season and no less than his forward play had deserved.

This galvanside the home side and it wasnt long before they were running riot over their visitors forcing them to concede possession. One such mistake led to Sandy's second goal as Henlows centre back passed the ball straight to Hammett on the left. Hammett played a first time ball into Stafs path, he took a touch away from the defender and then fired a rasping shot past the Henlow keeper to make it 2-0 and open his account for the year. Corners were casuing problems for Henlow and Beally rose higher than his marker but could only steer his header wide. Sandy then almost had a third from another Hammett corner as JJ outjumped Staf at the back post. His intial header was blocked but the ball fell kindly back to him but his toe poke shot was blocked on the line.

Sandy had other chances through the half to add to their tally but they couldn't quite convert. Baker had a volley at the back post that he fired wide only to be flagged offside. Hammett was then released by a deft throughball from Staf, but he fired his left foot shot wide of the goal. Shane Pope who now had the taste for goals burst forwards again but this time his strike was tipped over the bar by the keeper and then Staf almost had his second of the afternoon as Seldon floated a ball high into the box but the Henlow keeper held the ball against the crossbar under pressure from the Sandy forward.

Henlow were trying everything they could to get into the game but Sandy were in no mood to give them any late Christmas presents and once again the team defended well as a unit. Occassionally giving away a sensible freekick the home side then defened the crosses well and Pally was reduced to a virtual spectator as he only had to take the odd goalkick. Half time 2-0.

Starting the second half the home side knew that the next goal was going to be very important and could potentially decide the contest. enlow made a couple of positional changes to try and cause the home side problems but they had little or no effect as again the team defended very well. Sandy began to attack more on the counter attack as well, bursting forwards with pace and power and acsuing Henlow all sorts of problems.

Sandy didn't have to wait long for their third goal and it inevitably came from leading scorer Staf. Baker picked the ball up on the left after it had been cleraed to him by Shane. He moved into space and then played a good cross field ball to Staf. Staf used his pace and power to burst past the defender and into the box before powering a shot between the keeper and his near post to make it 3-0 and grab his second goal of the afternoon. He had the chance to complete his hattrick shortly afterwards with almost a carbon copy attempt. This time he was releasde by Hammett down the right again moving into the box. He fired his shot towards goal only to see the keeper make a remarkable save, tipping the ball onto the post and seeing it rebound to safety. It was a splendid save from the Henlow stopper. 

Matt Evans then gave way to Olly Banfield as he came onto the right of midfield and immediately tried to use his pace and power to create problems. Chris Nicholls and Mark Jennings were working well in midfield and Nicholls was playing several throughballs to Baker and Banfield to try and set them free. One such through ball found Staf down the left channel and he tried a deft cross with the outside of his right boot, but he couldnt quite find Hamet at the back post as the ball didn't spin enough. The home side then grabbed their fourth goal as Beally headed a corner on towards the back post. Staf anticipated the header and popped up totally unmarked at the back post to head the ball down under the keeper and complete his hattrick and give Sandy a 4-0 lead.

Beally was then involved in the comedy moment of the half as he made one of his trademark Lucio type runs forwards. Robbing the Henlow player in the middle of the park he burst forwards and then we can only imagine that as he reached the edge of he box he thought he would try a curling effort towarsd the top corner. However Beally somehow managed to just scoop the ball into the air and fall over at the same time. Somehow though the ball almost found Staf at the back post, but the defender reacted first to intercept the ball and prevent Staf from having the chance to add a fourth goal to his tally. 

Baker then gave way to Rob Tapley who made his long awaited return from injury, Unfortunately shortly after coming on it was Henlow that managed to get a goal back. JJ cleared the ball from a corner straight into touch and then the long throw just eluded him for the first time during the game. The small Henlow forward kept the ball in on the byline and then turned Beally inside out before crossing the ball to find Fallano unmarked at the back post for a tap in. This ruined Sandys clean sheet and proved to be the only shot that the visitors had on target the whole game. They almost had their second moments later as Fallano was denied another tap in by the linesmans flag, but this served as a warning to the home side that the game wasn't over. 

The let off seemed to kick start Sandy and they dominated the closing exchanges of the match as they pushed forwards again looking for a fifth goal. Tapley tried to release Staf and Hammett but the pass was intercepted and then Staf was released by Banfield but his cross curled over the bar and couldn't find Hammet or Nicholls at the back post. Chris had moved out onto the left wing to accomodate the return of Rob. Staf was then given a rest as Morgan made his return to action for the remainder of the match. Tapley did almost provide Morgan with a glory moment as he tried to find him at the back post with a deft lob, but he underhit the pass and the defender cleared well. Morgan then moved back to in front of the back four to help clear the ball away.

The Henlow keeper was called into action to keep the score at 4-1 as Jennings burst through into the box and then cut the ball across square to Hammett. Hammett took a touch and then curled the ball towards the bottom corner only for the keeper to get down well and tip the ball around the post with another good save. Banfield, Tappers and Nicholls then combined well on the edge of the bow to create an opportunity for Tappers, but his attempted lob looped up into the keepers grateful hands. As the game winded down Banfield was settling more into the game and was going on several mazy runs, committing defenders and creating space. However the visiting side always seemed to just shut down the space at the last minute denying him the opportunity to shoot.  

The closing stages of the match were then hindered by some strange decisions from the referee which led to alot of frustration from the Henlow side. Several of their players were very vocal, and two of them managed to talk themselves into the refs notebook. However Sandy didn't let this affect them and they saw out the game to earn a well deserved 3 points. The win was made all the sweeter shortly after when they found out that their tite rivals with the exception of Beds SA had all dropped points. Lidlington and Marston drew whilst Ickwell lost a seven goal thriller, these results mean that Sandy have moved up inot 2nd place and have closed the gap on the leaders to just a point. If Sandy can continue this run of form then it could prove to be a very happy new year. Final score 4-1. 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

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


2. Luke Morgan (7)
7. Rob Tapley (7)
13. Olly Banfield (8)

Goal Scorers:

3 x Daniel Stafford
1 x Shane Pope


2 x Ian Hammett
1 x Phil Beall
1 x Craig Baker

Man of the Match:

3. Shane Pope


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