Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Henlow

Competition League - Division 1
Result Sandy 1st Team 1-3 Henlow
Date Saturday 23 February 2013
Kick Off 2.30pm

Match Report

Sandy were looking to bounce back from the last minute heartbreak that they suffered at the hands of Elstow Abbey last week as they played host to Henlow this week at Bedford Road. Having also lost to Henlow in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, the home side were looking to set the record straight and get back to winning ways. The afternoon was always going to be difficult though with the side down to it's bare bones. Regulars Mark Jennings (Stag Do!) and Shane Pope (Becoming the Daddy!) were absent as was Nathan Morris who was working. With the reserves also shorthanded there was no chance to call up replacements so 11 would have to do.

Conditions were not ideal either on a bitterly cold afternoon and the pitch although in decent shape considering the recent weather, was to cut up badly and test most players first touch on more than one occassion. Despite this both teams immediately looked to settle and play football with Sandy enjoying the better of the early exchanges and almost had the chance to take an early lead as remarkably Olly Banfield who was filling in at left back somehow made an early foray into the Henlow box. The ball broke to him after some nice interplay between Hammett and Hearson, but his shot was blocked away and the danger averted.

The visitors then looked to respond and knock the ball around with some good movement, but Beally and Wrenny were marshalling the forward line well and cutting out several long balls whilst others were overhit and ran through to Pally without causing any problems. Banners and Seldon did have their hands full as both Henlow wingers were tricky and quick, proving to effective outlets for the away side, whilst also cutting out the supply to Sandy's own wing duo of Gregory and Burgess. Both of Sandy's wingers did work hard to try and provide their full backs with cover.

All over the pitch passes were being misplaced by both sides and almost every player as they struggled with the conditions and it was a defensive mistake that again gave Sandy a great chance to take the lead. A nice flowing move from the home side resulted in Gilly finding Hearson over the top down the left wing. Hearson tried to cut the ball back to Hammett, but it was intercepted. Hammett was to get a second bite of the cherry though as the defender stood on the ball and it squirted out to the Sandy player manager who spun and hit his shot which the keeper saved well with his feet and Henlow scrambled the ball clear. Hammett and Hearson were combining well as their new partnership seemed to threaten and they carved open another chance as JJ dinked a ball over the top that Hammett laid off into the path of Hearson who could only fire his shot high over the bar.  

Sandy didn't capitalise though and gradualy Henlow began to look more and more threatening with Pally becoming busier by the minute. The Sandy back four and midfield were being pulled all over the place as Henlow found some fluidity to their play as well as looking dangerous with some long balls. Pally did well to hold a couple of long range shots and then tipped another effort over the bar. The Sandy stopper was proving to be in good form as he was continually tested from distance. Beally was also having strong game, making several vital interceptions alongside his defensive partner Wren. Henlow were knocking on the door, but were being kept at arms length until they had a stroke of luck.  With the play building up down the left hand side, Henlows tricky right winger pulled Banners out of position, the cross came in and flicked off a player eluding Banners and breaking for the winger who took one touch, opened his body a fired a shot in from a tight angle that beat Pally and nestled in the net off the bar and the far post.

Sandy felt unlucky, but it could have been so much worse as minutes later, Pally tipped a shot onto the post and then the rebound looked like it would fall to the Henlow striker, but Beally anticipated well and and blocked the ball away before clearing the danger. Sandy needed to regroup and get some foothold in the game as they were having to withstand heavy pressure. JJ and Gilly were having to cope with 3 in midfield and their job wasn't made any easier with the home side giving the ball away cheaply. It was left to Sandy's centre back to give the home side some forward impetus as he broke down the right flank and counter attacked, but he couldn't find anyone with his cross. This though showed the home side the way and they pushed forwards looking for some momentum. Ryan Burgess won a freekick on the wing and Sandy almost equalised with a Beally header, but the effort lacked power and was easily saved. Then JJ had delusions of granduer and he tried a speculative effort from long range with yes you are reading this right.... his left foot.

Sandy's pressure finally told and they won their first corner, from which Beally was hauled down at the near post and the ref pointed to the spot. Hammett stepped up and although there was some gamesmanship from the visitors goalkeeper regarding the placement of the ball, he confidently dispatched the ball into the corner of the net to bring the scores level. 1-1.

The rest of the first half was then pretty even, as once again both teams looked to gain the ascendancy. Henlow did have a couple of corners in quick succession, but they were kept out and despite their frustrations against a blatant penalty award to Sandy they couldn't regain the lead. Half time 1-1.

The home side started the second half the strongest as they looked to grasp the initiative and impose themselves on their rivals. The final ball though was letting them down and they couldn't quite release Hammett or Hearson in dangerous positions. Burgess was starting to get a little more joy and was able to get a run or two at his full back, but nothing came to fruition. Gregory was not getting much of the ball down the left flank other than to defend with Henlow's right winger a constant threat especially on the counter attack.

JJ was starting to dictate the play in the middle of the park and he broke up the play before releasing Hammett down the right channel. The Sandy forward was finally in some space and he burst forwards as they had created a two on one, however with JJ screaming for a return pass, Hammett tried to look across for Hearson but the ball bobbled and his cross looped into the keepers hands. It was a warning to Henlow though and offered encouragement to Sandy. Wren was now winning everything at the back and Seldon was having much more joy shutting down the new left winger and was getting the chance to burst forwards. The Sandy full back did win a corner and Sandy almost took advantage as Beally directed a header goalwards and the Henlow keeper just plucked the ball off Wenny's toe's.

Henlow were still trying to play out from the back as they had throughout the game, but it almost cost them as Hammett robbed the holding midfielder and then won a freekick. It was floated in again finding Beall who this time controlled and then laid the ball into the path of Burgess whose powerful shot was blocked by a lunging defender. The ball almost broke back to Beally but the the keeper flung himself on the ball. Sandy knew that they needed to take advantage, but they just couldn't find a way through.

Having ridden the storm Henlow came back into the game, and began to exert some pressure on the hosts. They won a couple of corners and looked dangerous winning headers but unable to test Pally. The Sandy keeper was called into action though to save well from the right winger as he cut inside and beat two players before getting his shot away just a Beally tried to block the shot. Then Ryan Gregory cleared well off the line from another corner as it was now time for Sandy to weather the storm. Once again though Henlow were shooting mainly from long range despite putting together some flowing moves and the game was beginning to turn into a war of attrition.

Sandy almost carved open another chance to take the lead as Ryan Gregory released Ian Hammett down the left. Hammett drove into the box and again tried to square the ball looking for Hearson, but the keeper intercepted the ball well. Banfield then almost got in round the back as he latched onto a raking pass from Gilly, but the right back was up to the task and cleared the danger. There was always the chance that Sandy were going to be left to rue their inability to take advantage of their pressure and with ten minutes to go they were made to pay.

The visiting side countered and burst forward down the right, with their winger isolating and weaving into the box. He fired his shot straight at Pally, but this time the Sandy keeper somehow missed the ball and it flew underneath him into the net to give Henlow the lead. 1-2. It had been the tamest effort of the afternoon in comparison to some saves the Sandy keeper had made, but never the less it proved to be a costly error. Sandy now had to throw caution to the wind and they flooded forwards, winning corners and freekicks. They were unable to convert though as Henlow defended desperately. Hammett had a looping effort cleared off the line as Hearson looked to nod it home and Beally had another effort well blocked. Burgess almost got in as well, but he was crowded out.

Henlow then hit Sandy on the counter attack again as from a corner they launched a long ball forwards that was totally misjudged by Seldon and he was caught under the ball. The forward broke one on one with Pally and he made no mistake slotting the ball home and putting the tie beyond Sandy. They almost had a fourth when Sandy were again caught napping from a long ball, but the right winger couldn't complete his hat trick. He lobbed Pally but agonisingly saw his effort go just past the post. Sandy had been hit with two sucker punches and they didn't have time to recover meaning that Henlow took all three points and consigned Sandy to their second defeat on the bounce. Final score 1-3. 


Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (7)
2. Richard Seldon (6)
3. Ryan Gregory (6)
5. Andrew Wren (7)
7. Ryan Burgess (6)
8. John-Joe Pekszyc (7)
9. Ian Hammett (6)
13. Olly Banfield (6)
16. David Gill (6)
17. Phil Beall (7)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Ian Hammett


1 x Phil Beall

Man of the Match:

17. Phil Beall


5. Andrew Wren


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