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

Competition Cup - Centenary Cup Final
Result Sandy 1st Team 0-2 Ickwell and Old Warden
Date Friday 04 May 2012
Kick Off 7.30pm
Attendance153

Match Report

The curtain came down on Sandys season with their first cup final appearance under the guidance of player manager Ian Hammett and the clubs 6 year wait to return to a cup final was over after wins over Henlow and Marston Shelton Rovers. Undoutedly this was to be a far tougher test against local rivals Ickwell who were looking to secure a league and cup double.

With a full squad available Sandy were at their strongest and selection was always going to be tough. Matt Evans was preferred to Oli Banfield on the right wing with JJ returning alongside the fit again Phil Beall at centre back. It was ironic that Matt got the nod as the squad were to discover after the game that he and his family had moved to Suffolk and this would be his final game wearing the purple and white. We wish Matt and his family all the best for the future.

In front of a 150 strong crowd is was an electric evening and the derby aspect added more spice. Right from the off it was obvious that this was going to be a game of few chances and each team was going to have to work hard to prevail. Sandy started the best by far as they forced the league champions out of their stride. Back to front and to a man each Sandy player worked their socks off. Mark Jennings and Rob Tapley were outworking the 3 Ickwell players and Tappers was finding all sorts of space and he was really pulling the strings. Seldon and Evans on the right and Pope and Nicholls on the left were solid and putting in some excellent work to expose the flanks and stop the switches of play that are Valloms trademark. With Phil Beall and JJ keeping Kaylan and Threadgold quiet the underdogs were building a solid foundation in the game.

Stafford and Hammett were chasing everything down and running the channels but it was a thankless task in the opening exchanges as they couldn't get any joy attacking. The midfield though were using the space to play in and it was Tappers who almost gave Sandy the lead as he picked up a loose ball beat two players and then fired the ball just wide of the far post from the edge of the box. Shane Pope then went close as he swung a deep cross in that almost dropped in under the bar and had the keeper scrambling, only to be relieved when he saw it drop wide. 

Ickwell were rattled and they couldn't seem to get out of their own half. Beally and JJ were winning everything and sandy were working hard, winning free kicks and snuffing out any Ickwell pressure. The Ickwell keeper was in action again soon enough as he pulled off a fine save to deny Sandy leading scorer Dan Stafford. Staf made a run across the box and was found with a great ball over the top. He hit it first time on the bounce and it looked to be heading into the far corner until the keeper pushed it away at full stretch.

Despite dominating possession Sandy couldn't find that goal and Ickwell seemed to up their game somewhat and became more of a threat. Lee Threadgold was tricking his way past defenders and breaking free but was failing to trouble Pally as his first effort went high and wide. Vallom also had a shot that he sent well wide. Beally was on form as well though and he made two quality last ditch tackles to stop Threadgold getting in on goal and testing Pally. Once again during the first half Pally hardly had a save to make and again just needed to come and have assured hands as he claimed crosses under pressure. 

With the game close and half time drawing near Sandy put their best move of the half together as Pope, Nicholls, Hammett and Tapley moved the ball quickly between them and then the ball was clipped over the top to Staf who broke the offside trap and broke away for the first time. The keeper came rushing out and made himself big, but Staf sent his trademark lob towards the goal, agonisingly though it dropped on to the roof of the net. Some of the crowd celebrated as it had looked like it had dropped in and even Staf thought he'd scored for a moment but soon realised. 

Sandy were almost punished moments later as Lee Threadgold also finally got away from the back four and finished well past Pally into the bottom corner but Ickwell were denied an undeserved half time lead by the linesman flag as Threadgold had strayed offside. The rest of the half was tight with neither side taking the ascendancy and the refs whistle bought a close to the half with the scores all level. Half time 0-0

Ickwell made a change at half time with the flyer Zach Rowe coming onto the left wing as they looked to get the upper hand in contest. Sandy knew that Ickwell would come out firing and they continued the hard work that they had put in in the first half hustling and harrying the opposition and defending stoically. Sandy were penned back though and only a last ditch block from Richard Seldon early in the half kept the scores level as the ball looked destined for the net at the near post.

The chances were starting to come for the league champions and they were looking to capitalise on their dominance at the start of the half. Beith was the next to go close as he headed wide under pressure from Jennings. These two proved to be having quite the aerial battle all over the park with neither player giving an inch in their challenges.  

Sandy managed to weather the storm though and gradually started to establish themselves back in the match. Hammett was leading from the front as he chased every lost cause and pressured the back three every time. One such piece of work led to him charging down a clearance from Scotcher, but as had been Sandy's luck the ball didn't quite fall into the path of Staf and he was shut down quickly. This was setting the tempo though and all over the park Sandy worked hard. After sixty minutes though the deadlock was broken as the ball broke down the left hand side for Ickwell and Lee Threadgold got in behind the back four. Pally came out but Threadgold fired the ball past him, Phil Beall looked like he was going to get to the ball to clear it, but Anup Kaylan slid in and somehow managed to get to the ball first and bundled the ball into the empty net to give the League Champions the lead.

Sandy needed to respond, but first they needed to gather themselves as Ickwell went looking for more goals. Sandy though repelled everything that was thrown at them and tried to regain some momentum. Tappers released Staf down the right hand side and he flicked the ball around Dan Threadgold only to pull unceremoniously chopped down. This though led to Sandy's best chance to equalise. Hammett delivered the ball into the box and the keeper under pressure from Beally dropped the ball. Again though it didn't quite fall and Nicholls recovered it before laying it to the only free man which was Seldon. He snatched at the half chance and drilled the ball wide. Shortly after Sandy thought that Ickwell should of been down to 10 men as Staf got in behind and looked to power away from the back four only for Rowe to chase back and bring him down. The ref waved it away and Stafs freekick drilled into the wall.

Hammett then replaced himself with Nahan Morris as he looked to try and freshen things up, but it was to be Ickwell that would get the 2nd goal they were looking for as there second substitute Fox curled in a corner and found Valom in space in the box. Vallom shifted the ball and then drilled it across goal where Beith was on hand to tap it home. Understandably this looked like it was game over for Sandy, but Hammett made further changes to try and influence the game. Banners came on for Matt Evans and he immediately went about tearing forwards down the right flank. Beally was then starting to struggle so for the last fifteen Sandy went three at the back as Craig Baker came into midfield.

Baker put himself about and started to influence things. He won a free kick after being brought down and Tappers delivered it into the box. Theer was then a goalmouth scramble and somehow Ickwell managed to clear a shot off the line with every player from Sandy appelling to the linesman that it had gone in but with no luck. Somehow the clean sheet of Ickwell stayed intact. The writing seemed to be on the wall with Sandy tonight and this was more the case when Staf finally did break free and whilst under pressure from Threadgold again he stayed strong and tried to slot the ball past the keeper, but again the Ickwell stopper thwarted Sandy's leading scorer as he turned the ball away for a corner.

With Sandy pushing hard the ref brought the game to a conclusion with Ickwell winning 2-0. It was a tough result on the boys in purple who had played their hearts out on the night and with a bit more luck may well have emereged with the trophy hat their performance deserved. Charlie Seward and Luke Morgan were unused subs and thanks goes to them for their support. Everyone from the first team would also like to thank all those that turned up supported us, it was wonderful to see so many people cheering the team on.

However it wasn't to be and Sandy's seaon came to a disappointing end. The squad will now look to have a good rest over the off season and come back reenergised for the 2012/13 season. Final score 0-2. 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (8)
1. Daniel Stafford (8)
2. Richard Seldon (8)
3. Matt Evans (8)
3. Shane Pope (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)

Subs:

11. Craig Baker (7)
13. Nathan Morris (7)
13. Olly Banfield (7)

Man of the Match:

3. Shane Pope

 

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