Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Ickwell and Old Warden

Competition League - Division One
Result Sandy 1st Team 2-3 Ickwell and Old Warden
Date Saturday 01 October 2011
Kick Off 2.30pm

Match Report

Sandy were to face the first really stern test of their credentials to day as they entertained local rivals Ickwell and Old Warden at Bedford Road. Manager Ian Hammett was able to call up a pretty much full strength squad to face the unbeaten league leaders, and was even able to bolster the reserve ranks by sending Olly Banfield and Darren Gipson with them.

Faced with some tough choices, Charlie Seward and Luke Morgan were moved to the bench with Rob Tapley who was continuing his recovery from injury.The visitors were full of quality players with Zach Rowe and Andrew Vallom returning to the side from Blunham last season and several other former premier league players in their ranks.

Sandy knew that it would be a tough game and that they would have to defend strongly to resist the pressure from Ickwell as the visitors signalled their intent from early in the contest. Vallom floated a lovely long ball to Rowe who got in behind Seldon and JJ but his cross/shot was tipped away by Morris for a corner. Sandy dealt with the corner well and then broke at speed with Gedders and Hammet linking up and Gedders bursting free down the left wing however his cross couldn't find staf at the back post. It had been a good counter attacking move though that was to be the foundation of Sandy's good play. 

Ickwell were enjoying the lions share of the possession, but were being limited to long balls and long shots for most of the contest. These shots rarely troubled Sandy as the back four did well to marshall there ranks and the midfield held good shape in front of them. Against the run of play Sandy were gifted a reward for their solid play as Hammett and Staf closed down the back four forcing a pass back. The keeper then tried to slot the ball between Hammett and Staf, but Hammett read it and cut the pass out, before firing the ball into the empty net with his left foot from twenty five yards out. This knocked the visitors and lifted the home side as they pressed hard trying to add a second. Many of the spectators thought that they should of had a penalty a few minutes later, when Matt Evans fired in a long throw which caused confusion. Staf flicked it on and then as Hammett got to the ball first Paul Beith clattered into him claiming he got the ball., although Hammett hobbled away with stud marks on his thigh.

When Sandy broke they did continue to cause the leaders problems although Staf was struggling to get into the game and not looking his usual self in the heat of the day. Probably tired from all the FIFA 12 he'd been playing til late the night before. Jennings and Nicholls were having a tough time in midfield but were keeping solid. Vallom was pulling the strings for Ickwell, but most of his shots fired high wide and handsome. JJ and Phil were having a solid first half and Beally made a vital goalline clearance from Rowe when it looked for all the world like they would equalise. Nathan Morris was again having a splendid game as he swept up nicely behind the backline and provided some assurance from crosses. Sandy were almost gifted a second midway through the half as the ball was scuffed to staf, but his first time effort from about thirty five yards went well wide.

Confusion was then casued again in the home side's box from a long throw with the ball finding Hammett at the back post. He headed the ball back across goal and staf flung himself at the ball only for his toe poke towards goal to be blocked by the keeper. Sandy knew that they may be made to rue these missed chances and Sandy old boy Matthew McCartney almost made them pay with a quick turn on the edge of the box, but his shot just trickled past the upright. Ickwell then had a good shout for a penalty as Mark Jennings seemed to clip Rowe on the edge of the box but the ref waved play on.

Sandy then switched off to allow the visitors to equalise. A hopeful was played over the top and the defence stopped as they thought that Ozzy was going to flag for offside. He didn't and the Ickwell forward played on keeping the ball on. He then found Foxy on the edge of the box who fired in a powerful shot into the far corner of the net with Morris given very little chance to save it. On the balance of play it was probably deserved but the home side had been slight contributors to their own downfall.

However almost straight from the kick off Sandy re-established their lead. with the ball being played around in the middle of the park Chris Nicholls picked it up and then went on a mazy run past about five players and played a lovely ball through to Hammett. The defender missed the pass and Hammet took one touch before bending the ball round the keeper who was coming out to restore Sandy's lead. Both teams then traded blows before the half time whistle but each defence stood firm and strong in the sweltering October heat. Half time 2-1.

Sandy knew that the visitors would come out strong and that they would have to maintain the intensity to get anything from the game. and they started the half under the cosh as Ickwell looked to make the game all square again. The visitors had a succession of corners almost straight from the off, but Matt Evans defended well heading most of them away. However Greg Instrell did beat him to one to head the ball goalwards. Rowe who was in front of the keeper flicked the ball the other way tho and Nathan Morris produced an absolutely superb save diving one handed to his right to palm the ball away. Leaving most players on both sides applauding the save.

Ickwell had some sustained pressure but again Sandy were coping with it well although the Ickwell forward had a glaring miss of a open goal as he tried an audacious diving header but failed to connect properly and ended up hitting the post from all of a yard out. long shots were again raining in on the Sandy goal, but Morris was equal to most of them.

Despite being under such pressure the introduction of Rob Tapley saw the home side start to play some nice football with Tappers, Nicholls and Hammett linking well with Staf. Hammett whipped the ball into the box but Matt Evans couldn't quite get on the end of it as the ball was headed away for a corner. Sandy then had a period of pressure themselves as the had a few corners. Dan Gaylor almost headed one into his own net from a Hammett inswinger and then from the second corner the ball almost broke to Staf whose shot was blocked from five yards out with Ickwell clearing the goal mouth scramble. Staf then won the home side a free kick on the edge of the box, but Hammett could only curl it into the keepers arms which he gathered safely.

Then with twenty minutes to go came the real turning point in the contest when Nathan got injured. Morris was kicked on the hand damaging his thumb as he fumbled a through ball that was then cleared by Beally. Ickwell gave the ball back, but a poor clearance got Beally napping and the Ickwell forward escaped his attention and fired a shot in from twenty five yards out. Morris wary of his hand didn't go down with confidence and the ball somehow got through him to give the visitors the equaliser. Morris was immediately replaced with Luke Morgan who offered to go in goal.

Morgan had a dodgy coupe of minutes as nerves got the better of him and twice he almost fumbled the ball to an attacker, but each time he recovered and then he made what can only be described as a miraculous save. Vallom fired in a left foot shot that was destined to go in the top corner but Morgan leapt like a salmon to tip the ball over the bar. Obviously this would have been a very large salmon, but graceful nonetheless. Later in the changing rooms JJ was to ask Morgan why his legs didn't come off the floor, but it was later explained that they are far too heavy to jump!

With the contest ticking down into the final stages Sandy had a great chance to take the lead. Sandy's corner was cleared straight to Tappers who spread the ball wide back to Hammett. Hammett whipped in a lovely cross right onto the head of Mark Jennings who appeared to lose the ball in the sun and he headed wide from seven yards out missing a gilt edged chance. Tappers also almost carved out a chance as he made a run into the box but the ball wouldn't sit right for the shot and the defender cleared. A couple of minutes later Sandy were made to pay as Rowe escaped Beally down the inside right channel. Beally caught up with him and held him up, but he foun Vallom on the edge of the box. Vallom shifted the ball and then fired it low towards goal. It took a bobble just in front of Morgan and the was little he could do as it bobbled over his dive to give the visitors a heart breaking lead.

Sandy though still had chances and could of been level but for an outstanding double save from the Ickwell keeper. Charlie who was on for Staf played a great ball over the top for Hammett, who took one touch and then fired goalwards looking for his hattrick. The keeper saved well but fumbled the ball and Hammett pounced trying to slot the ball into the open goal. However the keeper somehow recovered and spread himself well to get his arms in the way and block the shot away for a corner. From the corner Sandy almost again had the chance but the ball fell between Jennings and JJ and neither could put it in the net.

A final chance came Charlie's way as Chris Nicholls found him with a raking crossfield ball. Seward brought the ball down well, but seemed to hesitate before firing the ball goalwards only to see it fly past the far post. This was to be the last chance as Ickwell then ran down the clock well and the held on to a win that they will count themselves lucky to have got. Despite a solid performance Sandy were left disappointed to come away with nothing. However if they play like that for the rest of the season they won't go far wrong. final score 2-3




Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

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


2. Luke Morgan (7)
4. Charlie Seward (7)
7. Rob Tapley (7)

Goal Scorers:

2 x Ian Hammett


1 x Chris Nicholls

Man of the Match:

9. Ian Hammett


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