Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Henlow

Competition League - Division One
Result Henlow 1-2 Sandy 1st Team
Date Saturday 14 January 2012
Kick Off 2.00pm

Match Report

Sandy travelled to Henlow to try and record back to back victories over their hosts. Having been 4-1 winners last week Sandy knew that they would face a tougher test on Henlow's home patch as they shuffled their side to try and counteract Sandy's dominant play from previously. The visitors also had some changes in personnel with JJ (Work) and Chris Nicholls (injured) unavailable a reshuffle was needed and Olly Banfield was handed a start on the right with Rob Tapley slotting into the centre of midfield to renew his partnership with Mark Jennings. Brad Smith and Charlie Seward also returned to the squad after absence which bolstered Sandy's options off the bench.

A fast start was going to be important and like the previous week it was Sandy who dominated from the off, the home side were hindered though by the loss of one of their starting midfielders though as about 90 seconds into the contest he fell innocuously and dislocated his left shoulder. Sandy took advantage of this and immediately pressed Henlow back into their own half, with Mark Jennings leading the push the visitors won the ball high up the field time after time and it wasn't long before chances were being created.

The first chance came from a Henlow error though as a long ball was cleared upfield by Sandy and the centre back misjudged his header just flicking it on. Staf was onto it in a flash, but didn't quite get enough on his lob and the keeper who to his credit stayed up big managed to palm the ball away wide of the goal. This though was just to be a warning of things to come as Baker, Tapley, Jennings and Banfield were all bursting forwards creating problems and Hammett and Staf were combining well up top. Staf almost gave Sandy the lead with a header after Hammett found Jennings at the back post from a free kick. Jennings headed the ball back across and Staf met the ball but could only steer it straight at he keeper as he couldn't generate pace on the ball. However it was to be the Hammett/Staf combination that led to Sandy's opener as Baker picked up a loose ball and then laid it back to Shane Pope. Pope found Hammett who made a good diagonal run behind the full back, he got to the ball before the centre back and though his touch forced him wide he found Staf with a pass inside. Staf took a touch to get the ball out of his feet and then with all the time in the world he fired the ball past the keeper who had taken up a strange position in the centre of the goal. 1-0 Sandy.

This goal almost signalled the opening of the flood gates as Henlow looked shell shocked and it wasn't long before it was 2-0 as the visiting side counter attacked with fluency to score a goal right from the back. Clearing a Henlow corner Mark Jennings found Hammett just outside Sandy's box, Hammett found Banfield and the Banfield found Seldon who knocked the ball down the right flank to Staf. Staf held off and turned his defender before powering away and cutting into the box. Baker and Tappers had sprinted forwards to offer a square option but the confident Sandy striker, head down fired the ball low and hard past the keeper and into the far bottom corner to double both his and Sandy's tally.

Again Sandy had opened up a convincing two goal lead and the back four were solid under any pressure. Phil Beall and Matt Evans were winning almost everything and blocking anything that they didn't win and Seldon and Pope were keeping their wingers relatively quiet with Banfield and Baker working had in front of them. Henlow did manage to cause a few problems from set pieces but Pally was equal to any test that he had as he punched the ball away well on a couple of occasions. Pallys biggest test early in the half was a mishit freekick that looked like it might drop into the postage stamp part of the goal, but Pally reacted well and palmed the ball away for a corner.

Sandy though were constantly on the hunt for that third goal that would probably have killed off the tie, but they just couldn't seem to find a way past the keeper or their final ball just let them down. Staf was really enjoying his first half as he seemed to be getting through at will. Again a long ball up field caused confusion and the ball broke to Hammett who slipped Staf in, however his shot was well saved by the keeper. Then Hammett and Staf combined again and Staf took his shot on early but could only just steer the ball wide. The midfield were becoming a bigger part of the game and even Phil Beall was stepping out of the back line early than usual to try and drive the visiting side forwards. Jennings had the next clear chance as Sandy worked the ball well across the edge of the box and Jennings fired in a shot from 25 yards out that the keeper could only parry away. Jennings almost got in again as Baker found him with a dink ball over the top and Jennings powered between defenders with the goal seemingly at his mercy it was only a block with what suspiciously looked like a handball that denied him a goal.

Banfield then created a chance for Hammett with a great diagonal ball in behind the defence, Hammett latched onto the pass and then tried to lob the keeper first time, however a bit like Stafs early chance he didn't wuite get enough on it to lift it over and the keeper got a hand to it to save again. Staf then turned provider on a couple of occasions as he broke away from the back line, the first time he found Tappers on the edge of the box, but Tappers could only steer his shot wide as he got pressured. Then Staf again broke down the right and with Hammett and Tappers square in the box, the defender guessed right and cut out the pass at the near post denying a potential third goal.

It looked like it may be one of those afternoons as towards the end of the half the home side began to dominate and Sandy gave the ball away. The score was kept at 2-0 down to some solid communicating across the back line ensuring the Henlow forwards were caught offside regularly and then by the first of Pallys fine saves of the afternoon, as with the half ticking down the home side launched a long throw into the box. Henlow got the flick and then got to the second ball, but Pally made a point blank block to deny the striker before Phil Beall cleared the ball away. Despite the pressure though Sandy stayed strong and held out till half time.

Sandy knew that they would need to up their game in the second half as they had gone a little off the boil, but for the first ten minutes they again put the home side to the sword. They were winning the ball high up the pitch and penning the team back in their half. Sandy couldn't find that third goal that they needed though as they were continually denied by some last ditch defending or some brave blocking.

Henlow though were starting to find a foothold in the game and were putting Sandy under increasing pressure. The visiitng side were still defending well but unlike previous weeks Pally was actually being called into action and he was keeping the score at 2-0. Henlow were having a lot of corners and long throws and they seemed to be causing all sorts of problems with their aerial threat but Pally did well coming through crowds of people and claiming the ball or punching it away under pressure. Phil Beall and Matt Evans were making plenty of last ditch blocks away as well. 

Pally made a good save from a freekick midway through the half as the Henlow player bent it low round the outside of the wall trying to catch him out, but he was well aware of the danger and deflected the ball onto the post and away. He then made a great save from a corner as Henlow won the ball in a crowded box and with Tappers primed on the line to clear the ball, Pally made a flying save to deny them. Despite the pressure Sandy did still have chances as Hammett and Brad Smith combined well down the right just after he had come on for Banfield. Hammett then dug out a cross to find Baker at the back post but his header was cleared off the line by some last ditch defending. Hammett then got through himself after being released by Richard Seldon, but he took his shot too early and steered it wide.

Henlow then did finally to beat pally and ensure a close last twenty minutes as again they caused problems from a set piece. This time though the ball fell kindly to their little striker who spun and fired the ball under Pally through a crowd. This knocked Sandy a little but the home side couldn't take advantage as they tried to press forwards. Sandy's defenders upped their game and the midfield worked hard to get back. Charlie Seward replaced Ian Hammett as Hammett looked to try and get the ball held up more and Seward did his best to get the ball down. 

Despite Henlow putting Sandy under large amounts of pressure the closing stages saw the visiting side dominate but somehow Henlow clung on. Firstly from a corner the ball broke to Tappers who fired over with his shot from range, then another corner led to the same outcome but this time Tappers spread the ball wide finding Staf. Staf held off his defender and broke into the box, but his cross bounced around before finding Phil Beall whose toe poke towards the bottom corner was cleared off the line for a corner. Sandy were piling on the pressure trying to restore their two goal margin and again they were somehow denied this time Beally closed down the keeper and won the ball keeping it in play he pulled it back to Charlie. Charlie took one touch and then fired it towards the empty goal only to see the defender recover to just get something on it and deflect it away off the post.

A similar scenario presented itself moments later as this time Staf challenged the keeper and won the ball. He found Tappers square but Tappers shot crashed back off the bar, Brad Smith got to the rebound first and headed towards the top corner only to be denied by a defender who got back and cleared the ball with his face. Luckily with Sandy dominating up the pitch this reduced the pressure on the back four and Pope and Seldon were actually pushing on at times.

With time running out Tappers then had another long range effort that he took well but couldn't quite keep down and the keeper watched it over. Sandy though held on with a battling performance and earned a tough three points that for the most part the deserved. This ensured that they kept pace with the leaders and they recorded their tenth league win in eleven games. Hopefully they can keep the run going at home to Luton Old Boys next week. Final score Sandy 2 Henlow 1. 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (9)
1. Daniel Stafford (9)
2. Richard Seldon (8)
3. Shane Pope (8)
3. Matt Evans (8)
4. Mark Jennings (8)
7. Rob Tapley (8)
9. Ian Hammett (8)
11. Craig Baker (8)
13. Olly Banfield (8)
17. Phil Beall (8)


4. Charlie Seward (8)
5. Brad Smith (8)

Goal Scorers:

2 x Daniel Stafford


1 x Ian Hammett
1 x Richard Seldon

Man of the Match:

1. Mark Pallister


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