Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Henlow

Competition Cup - Centenary Cup Quarter Final
Result Henlow 2-4 Sandy 1st Team
after extra time
Date Saturday 10 March 2012
Kick Off 2.30pm

Match Report

After a tricky few weeks Sandy had a welcome break from league action as they travelled to Henlow in the Quarter Final of the Centenary Cup. Having completed the league double over their hosts in January the visitors went into the tie with confidence.

Manager Ian Hammett decided to make three changes to the side after last weeks defeat, with Jj, Matt Evans and Rob Tapley returning to the starting line up and Morgan and Seward dropping to the bench alongside Baker who was back after injury. Nathan Morris was with the reserves and Olly Banfield was away.

After two previously tough games Sandy knew that they would have to start fast and impose themselves on their hosts and they did holding a good shape from the start. Sandy pressed high up the pitch and forced Henlow into making mistakes. The first glaring error came as their left back played a blind back pass which Hammett latched onto. Tapley had made a good run off the ball and Hammett found him, but Henlow recovered and crowded him out before he could get the shot away. When in possession Sandy were playing some great football with the midfield four linking well with Seldon and Pope at full backs. 

Henlow were trying to establish some fluency to their game but Sandy were stifling their play, Jj and Phil were solid winning all the 50/50 balls and keeping Pally from having much to do in the Sandy goal. Seldon was also winning his battle against the bright left winger and this released Matt Evans to get forward. It was this pressure down the right hand side that led to the opening goal as Staf and Evans closed down the defenders, Henlow played the ball square across the back four and Chris Nicholls pounced. He cut off the ball to the right back and first time knocked it into the path of Hammett. Hammett latched onto the ball and then shot first time past the on rushing keeper and into the net to give Sandy the lead.

This goal galvanised the visitors and they pushed on with Tappers keeping the ball moving through the middle and driving forwards. Jennings was also working hard through the middle and it was he that had the next chance as some great work from Matt Evans found him on the edge of the box but he couldn't keep his shot down. Hammett then should of had a second as Staf challenged with the centre back and flicked the ball on. Hammett raced clear but chose to try and lob the keeper but he lifted it too high and the ball sailed over. Staf wasn't managing to get free too often but he was the next to break clear as Hammett found him with a cross field pass. Staf rounded the keeper who had rushed out of his box but he was forced very wide and could only find the side netting from a tight angle. 

Despite being on top the visitors still had to be wary of Henlows attacks and there were moments when some last ditch tackling was required. Tappers stopped a counter attack with a great challenge on halfway, then Jj took a blow to the head in the sandy area as he blocked a shot. Chris Nicholls also made a block from a corner as Sandy resisted the pressure. Pally hardly had a save to make, although he did come and claim several crosses with calmness. When he couldn't claim he punched well under pressure.

Sandy were searching for that second goal that would really have given them a solid footing in the game, and Chris Nicholls was the next to be denied. After a great exchange with Pope he cut in from the left flank and fired a rasping drive that was flying into the top corner, only to see Henlows stand in keeper make a worldy of a save and tip the ball over the bar. Nicholls tried his luck again with half coming to a close but from slightly further out he fired his shot just over the bar much to the keepers relief. Half time 1-0

Sandy knew that they would have to match Henlow in the second half and grab the second goal as soon as they could. Henlow though had other ideas and came out fighting. They were much better on the ball and it was some solid defending from the Sandy backline that cut out any through ball and halted any attack. After stopping one such move Sandy then made a flowing move on the counter attack. Moving the ball from left to right with most players touching the ball. Seldon then exchanged a one-two with Matt Evans and rampaged into the box, his first touch though just got away from him and the defender recovered to block the cross/shot.

After an initial flurry by the hosts, Sandy re-established dominance and were pushing Henlow back. However they just couldn't seem to find the second goal. Henlow were somehow managing to block shots or cut out the final ball. Beally was stepping out of the back four and trying to push forwards and he had the next chance as he met a Hammett corner but could only steer the header wide. Seldon was again pushing on and he exchanged well with Hammett and Evans to again burst into the box and this time he forced the keeper into a save from a tight angle.

Mark Jennings then broke forwards as he received the ball from Nicholls. Bursting into the box past the defenders and the shot with his left foot only to see the keeper tip the ball round the post for a corner. Confusion in the Heblow defence then led to the next chance as Hammett jumped with the keeper and he fumbled the ball straight to Staf, but he couldn't get the ball under control to direct it into the net. It hadn't been stafs afternoon but as is do usual from the Sandy striker he was soon to pop up with a goal. Staf met a Hammett corner at the back post and headed the ball powerfully past the keeper to make it 2-0 with twenty minutes to go.

Sandy were looking solid and Pally was having nothing to do. Hammett replaced Nicholls with Baker and he was immediately into the action as he broke from the left and played a one two with Hammett. This presented Hammett with a clear chance from 10 yards but fired it straight at the keeper. This was Hammetts last action as he replaced himself with Seward for fresh legs up front. Henlow then pushed three up front and really went for it to get back into the tie. Sandy didn't cope and lost their shape. Henlow got in down the left flank and a deep cross beat Jennings at the back post and the Henlow player steered the ball home to ensure a nervy finish.

Gaps were opening up at the back of the hosts though and Sandy had chances to make it 3-1. Baker released Staf down the right but he fired wide with his first time effort. Beally then headed over from a Charlie Seward corner, and then Charlie had the best chance as he stole the ball off the keeper, rounded him but then missed the open goal from a tight angle. These misses seemed to have lifted Henlow and they pushed on. Luke Morgan replaced Matt Evans to try and sure up the defence but with almost the last kick of the game Henlow broke the offside trap and were away. Sandy had switched off and they were punished as the makeshift forward met the square ball and scuffed it home to send the tie agonisingly into extra time. Pally hadn't had a save to make but the visitors remarkably had thrown away a two goal lead and now had to lift themselves again.

After some harsh and sobering words from manager Ian Hammett Sandy took to the field looking fitter and stronger than Henlow who appeared to have given everything to get back into the game. Jj moved out the right as Sandy reshuffled and Morgan moved into centre back. Tapley was getting on the ball again and jj was driving the team forwards as they looked to try and kill the game off. 

Sandy defended stoutly and then Richard Seldon hit a long cross field pass to Seward on the left flank. Isolated against the Henlow defender Seward outmuscled him and the out paced him. Yes outpaced him looking like Usain Bolt he burst into the box and then made up for his earlier miss and he slotted the ball past the Henlow keeper to give Sandy a 3-2 lead.

Both teams were looking shot to pieces now but at the game moved into the second half Henlow looked the worse as players were cramping up all over the place. Sandy were now just having to be sensible but Henlow almost snuck an equaliser three minutes into the half. However it was some heroic defending from Luke Morgan who came flying from nowhere to bravely put his head in the way when it looked like the Henlow player would convert from two yards out.

This block seemed to kill Henlow off and they gave up giving Sandy so much space. Tappers nutmeg fed the left back who couldn't run through cramp then found Staf but the keeper saved well. Then Seward got away from another player and fired a shot just wide from outside the box. Baker was also full of running and he Seward combined to release Jennings down the right. Unselfishly he squared the ball to Staf who made no mistake, he took a touch the fired it home to effectively win the game 4-2.

Sandy then closed out the final seconds and saw out the game, to advance to a semi final at Bedford Road against Marston Shelton Rovers. It was a great performance by all and Sandy were deserved victors. Final score 4-2 AET. Good luck in the semis lads. 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

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


2. Luke Morgan (8)
4. Charlie Seward (8)
11. Craig Baker (8)

Goal Scorers:

2 x Daniel Stafford
1 x Charlie Seward
1 x Ian Hammett


1 x Chris Nicholls
1 x Ian Hammett
1 x Mark Jennings
1 x Richard Seldon

Man of the Match:

7. Rob Tapley


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