Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Leighton United

Competition League - Division 1
Result Leighton United 4-2 Sandy 1st Team
Date Saturday 10 November 2012
Kick Off 2.00pm

Match Report

After several weeks Sandy were finally able to call on the services once again of Mark Jennings and JJ Pekszyc as they returned to the starting line up against league leaders Leighton Utd. Manager Ian Hammett also returned after missing the cup game a couple of weeks ago. Despite results Sandy went into the contest in an upbeat mood as there performances had promised more than they had achieved and with the returning players a strong 13 were available.

The weeks heavy rainfall put paid to any flowing football as the pitch was soft and skiddy and it became apparent that it would cut up immediately which wouldn't favour either side. Despite the conditions the hosts tried to establish a passing game early but Sandy's robust and compact shape ensured that they were forced to pump long balls forwards that Beally and Wrenny gobbled up for the most part. JJ and Jennings formed a formidable barrier in front of the back four as well and they both broke up play regularly forcing Leighton to lose their flow. It was always going to be an afternoon for hardwork though and Hammett, Burgess and Banfield with Bailey just behind them forced the league leaders to pass the ball across the back and threaten little going forwards.

Chances for both sides were few and far between and neither keeper was particularly troubled. Mark Pallister in the Sandy goal watched a freekick curl harmlessly into the side netting, and another long range effort from the home side flew past the far upright although Pally had it covered. Leighton looked most threatening from their long throws although with a strong physical presence Sandy coped well. Pally also came and claimed crosses as needed. Sandy themselves were looking dangerous from set pieces especially corners and with better communication they may of taken the lead had Wrenny put his name on a cross, however Beally didn't get a call and headed a tough chance just over.

The first goal came out of nothing as play broke down in midfield and Sandy didn't go with the runners. Wrenny was dragged out of position to cover and the home side worked the ball into the space, finding their player free on the edge of the box. He took one touch and then fired the ball hard and low past Pally into the net. If anything this goal had come against the run of play as Sandy had looked comfortable in their shape and not worried. This goal though seemed to galvanise the visitors and they picked up the tempo searching for a way back into the contest. They pressed high up the pitch and counter attacked looking to push their hosts back and the tactic seemed to work as they again stifled the home sides football. This almost led to the equaliser as Leighton were forced into a back pass that wasn't on, Hammett chased it down forcing the keeper to scuff his kick straight to Bailey, who from 30 yards out had the chance to curl a ball into the net, but one of the home side defenders managed to get a block in and get the ball away for a corner.

Hammett then curled the corner in and almost found Jennings at the near post. Jennings though couldn't quite make contact and Wrenny then just missed the ball at the far post. It could have been 1-1, but still Sandy didn't have to wait long to get back into the game. Ryan Burgess this time battling hard on the left flank won the ball in a challenge just inside the home sides penalty area and it was Hammett that reacted quickest. He got to the ball beat two players and then as he was just about to shoot he was clipped and an inevitable penalty was awarded. Hammett after managing to find the spot with some help from the ref, stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to register his first goal of the season and give Sandy a well deserved equaliser.

The visiting side then dominated for the remainder of the half. Built on a solid platform by their back four they snuffed out all attacks and broke with purpose. One such break almost resulted in a second goal after a flowing team move. Leighton had a corner that was well cleared, Hammett held the ball and found Bailey who moved the ball right, Seldon knocked the ball past the full back and fed Banfield who sped down the right. He found a cross into the box which Beally who had caught up the attack got onto, he beat one player and then looked to feed Hammett, but the defender just recovered to clear the ball. Hammetts movement was causing problems and Bailey found him twice with excellent through balls over the left backs head. Hammett's crosses were blocked though both times but Sandy won corners from which Jennings and Beally went close again. Despite this pressure though Sandy couldn't find the second goal they were looking for and the half came to close at 1-1.

After a stirling first half performance the second half was always going to be the acid test for the match and Sandy started as they had left off. Leighton switched a few players around causing some adjustments to be made but JJ again marshalled the midfield well and he and Beally managed to block anything threatening and five minutes into the half history was made as the Kraken was finally released. Playing the ball out from right back, Seldon found Hammett down the line, Hammett cleverly flicked the ball into Banfield who had made a run in field and he beat one defender before firing a thunderbolt of a shot from thirty five yards into the roof of the net over the flying Leighton keeper who could do nothing. It was a fantastic strike and deservedly gave Sandy the lead. We had only been waiting 18 months but it certainly was one hell of a 'Kraken'.

The home side were stunned and Sandy were bouyant although as the quality of the pitch worsened football became harder to play and touches became more difficult Sandy seemed to lose their way and Leighton began to gain a foothold in the contest. They also began to find more space as Sandy began to tire which wasn't unexpected for those who returned from injury. The heavy pitch was also taking its toll on some tired legs, but before Hammett could make changes and freshen things up the home side took advantage and found an equaliser. The ball found its way to the edge of the Sandy area and although Beally and Pope tried to cover the left winger managed to get a shot off that went between a crowd of players and into the far corner of the net leaving Pally with little chance.

Burgess was replaced with Lenton as Sandy looked to bring fresh legs and experience to the middle, but they still struggled to establish an influence on the contest. They did win a corner which Beally almost scored from but his placed header went just past the post after the Leighton keeper had missed it horribly. This was the only real chance that Sandy had though as they spent most of the time resisting the home sides push forwards. Pally was being more and more called into action and it was his quick reflexes that stopped it being 3-2 as Sandy got caught out and although he was initially rounded he recovered and narrowed the angle to block the shot and then subsequent blocks by Seldon and Beally kept the scores level.

Leighton were now in the ascendancy and concentration was important, but Sandy gave the ball away in the centre of the park and the home side capitalised moving the ball forwards and finding the wide player who delivered the ball into the box finding his teammate who took a touch and fired the ball into the bottom corner to give the league leaders a 3-2 lead. Sandy were deflated and as they tried to dust themselves off and respond. They felt aggrieved after Beally found Lenton with a through ball and as Lenton was bearing down on goal the Leighton defender nipped in and tapped the ball back into the keepers hands, although the ref didn't deem it as a back pass. This could of been the luck that Sandy needed but instead Leighton went up the other end and won two corners in quick succession. The first was cleared easily, but the second one found a player at the back post who had escaped attention due to some clever blocking and he finished well first time into the roof of the net. 4-2.

Sandy felt sucker punched but a final change saw Wrenny who was struggling with cramp replaced by Nathan Morris who wasn't 100%. Sandy switched to 3 at the back which made them more solid and they also began to pose more of an attacking threat. One such threat almost brought a third Sandy goal as Nathan chased a through ball down, the keeper and the defender got in a muddle and the ball fell to Hammett who hit a first time chip with his left foot only to see the ball sail agonisingly over the bar. Jennings then was blocked on the edge of the box and a freekick awarded which Hammett curled just past the far post failing to trouble the keeper.

Sandy though couldn't find a way back into the contest though as Leighton managed to see out the threat and hold the visitors at bay to gain all three points. There had been encouraging performances though and Sandy will feel that if they can produce this type of form and effort they should see results change in the next few weeks. Final score 2-4 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (7)
2. Richard Seldon (7)
3. Shane Pope (8)
4. Mark Jennings (7)
5. Andrew Wren (7)
7. Ryan Burgess (7)
8. John-Joe Pekszyc (8)
9. Ian Hammett (8)
13. Olly Banfield (8)
15. Daniel Bailey (7)
17. Phil Beall (8)


13. Nathan Morris (7)
24. Dave Lenton (7)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Olly Banfield
1 x Ian Hammett


2 x Ian Hammett

Man of the Match:

9. Ian Hammett


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