Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Luton Old Boys

Competition League - Division One
Result Luton Old Boys 3-4 Sandy 1st Team
Date Saturday 12 November 2011
Kick Off 2.00pm

Match Report

Sandy faced a tough trip to Luton to face Luton Boys with the aim of extending their winning run in the league to four games in a row. It was always going to be a tricky afternoon as the Luton side are usually very strong at home and they seem to have a changing team every week. This was highlighted again today as kick off was delayed by five minutes as the at 14:00 the home side only had 8 players. The ref kindly gave them a few minutes to get sorted and finally they were able to raise a side.

Sandy had selection dilemmas of their own with 18 players available for the fixture. Matt Gedney and Luke Morgan were sent with the reserves to get pitch time and unfortunately Nathan Morris and Charlie Seward were to miss out on football altogether as Ian Hammett opted to give Mark Pallister a recall after his return from injury and also Olly Banfield was added to the squad for this fixture after strong performances for the reserve side.

Manager Ian Hammett warned Sandy about complacency from the off and his words were heeded as Sandy started the brighter of the two sides, having the lions share of possession and creating the early chances. Some nice football was being played on a difficult pitch and Sandy worked a couple of opportunities for long range efforts from Jennings and Rob Tapley as they both made forward runs to find space from centre midfield. Chris Nicholls and Craig Baker were also linking well with Staf and Hammett up top, but they just couldn't quite find the final ball to create a clear opportunity. It wasn't long though before Sandy's pressure told as Ian Hammett won the ball down the left channel, he then found Baker who then laid the ball square to Jennings on the edge of the box. Jennings who had had a few sighters already, let fly with a rocket of a shot that flew into the bottom corner giving the keeper no chance at all.

This was just what the visitors deserved as the home side had hardly been in the contest. Sandy pushed looking for the second goal and they were looking ever dangerous. Hammett had a shot saved by the keeper through a crowd of players and Baker just took a heavy touch after playing a neat one two with Hammett, which allowed the keeper to gather. But just like the previous week against Kings AFC Sandy switched off and had a mad five minutes that let Luton straight back into the game.

The equaliser came as Sandy failed to clear a ball form a corner and it came out the right wing where the winger fired in a great shot into the roof of the net giving Pally no chance of stopping it and then minutes later the ball was given away in the middle of their own half meaning the team was wildly out of position and Luton took advantage to play a neat move and score from close range to take the lead. Other than this the home side had hardly been in the contest yet they found themselves ahead and Sandy were left to rue their errors.

However like the week before they rallied and upped their level of performance to retain possession and again gain the upper hand in the contest. Staf had a good chance to equalise as he powerfully held off three defenders to break into the box, but the keeper saved well with his feet. Tappers then exchanged passes with Hammett and shot from the edge of the box. The shot took a deflection and looped up, but the keeper saved well. Sandy were starting to find their football again, but the equalising goal came form a set piece. Hammett won a free kick on the left which he took himself, drilling the ball to the back post to find Jennings totally unmarked. Jennings missed his first effort on the ball but managed to recover and square it to Phil Beall. Beallt took one touch, spun on a six pence and then scuffed a tame effort between the defenders and past the keeper on the line who was totally decieved by the lack of power. 2-2.

Before the half Sandy did have other chances to take the lead but the Luton Keeper was having a strong game, holding the ball well when shots were straight at him. He did however have a blunder and picked up a back pass, but Sandy couldn't capitilise as Tappers shot from the free kick was cleared off the line. Despite the two early mistakes Sandy were defensively solid with Pally not required to make a save during the first half. JJ and Beally worked hard in the heart of the defence with Matt Evans and Richard Seldon also constantly under pressure as Luton seemed to play a 4-2-4 formation for the most part. Tappers even on occasion was to be found at left back as the team worked hard to stop them scoring again. Half time 2-2.

After a few stern words at half time Sandy knew that the next goal would be vitally important and they went looking for it straight from the off. Baker was switched to the right and Chris Nicholls moved out to the left as Luton seemed to be stronger down their right side. Baker settled better and worked hard on the right to create chances winning the ball high up the pitch and giving Richard Seldon the chance to utilise the space behind him. A few minutes into the half Luton cleared the ball straight to Seldon, whose cross field suffed pass found Chris Nicholls, who took one touch and then fired a rapier like shot into the net again giving the keeper no chance of saving it and giving the visitors the lead.

Sandy were now on top again and pushing forwards to look to add to their tally. Chris Nicholls was enjoying the space down the left and he created Sandy's fourth with a direct forward run, he then lad theball off to Hammett who miraculously had managed to stay onside. Hammett shaped to shoot far post but then pulled his shot inside the near post, seeing it squeeze between the keeper and the post to make the score 4-2. Hammett then made a couple of changes bringing on Shane Pope and Brad Smith to give the team some fresh legs and try and consolodate their lead.

Brad almost got in on goal as he exchanged passes with Nicholls, but the ball just ran away from him. Then Seldon decided it was time to make a bid for his first goal of the season as he rampaged into the box, but no clear chance came his way. Sandy almost had a fifth when JJ found Staf with a long ball over the top, the keeper came rushing out and Staf lobbed him. Realising the defender who seemed to have the speed of Usain Bolt might catch the ball, Staf chased his own lob only to see it bounce agonisingly up and over the bar. It really wasn't to be Staf's day in front of goal as defenders seemed to manage to just get to everything or the keeper would make a save. Staf had a chance fron four yards out, but again as he shot on the turn the defender got a foot to it, taking all the pace off the ball and allowing the keeper to save comfortably. However with the score at 4-2 it didn't really matter and Staf was given a rest as the excitable Banfield was brought onto the left wing to replace him. Tappers moved up front alongside Hammett much to his delight.

Although Staf hadn't scored himself he was still an influence in the game as Mark Jennings tried something that most would think physiologically impossible as he execute a perfect bicycle kick. The ball was directed towards the bottom corner and was well saved by the keeper. Not to be upstaged Phil 'Lucio' Beall tried to copy him but his bicycle kick wasn't perfectly executed and the ball went well wide when he could of brought it down and laid Hammett in. Both were trying these as Staf has started the craze in a personal bet with Banfield.

Banfield seemed to bring a crazy energy to the game, but before he could have any influence Luton had pulled a goal back to make it 4-3 with 17 minues to go. Again having not troubled Pally for pretty much the whole half despite some neat build up play it was a Sandy mistake that gave the goal away. Sandy failed to clear from a throw in and Seldon made a uncharacteristic mistake at right back allowing the forward to win the ball and fire it unchallenged past Pally giving him no chance. Sandy's back four had again been undone by an error, but other than that they had had a strong game and were containing the tricky forwards from Luton without much trouble. Beally did get taken out off the ball by one player, but he kept his cool and didn't react even though provoked.

Crazy legs Banfield did have an exciting 15 minutes though as with Sandy trying to hold out for the win he was flying fowards. He almost added a fifth from a Hammett corner, but instead of timing hs header he seemed more in awe of how high Beally could jump, Beally however missed the ball and Banners headed the ball down and well away from goal as he was taken by surprise to even get it. He then found space after a neat move down the left and bore down on goal. He chose to try and square the ball to Tappers though but instead of playing the ball into his path he put a little too much pace on the ball and Tappers couldn't get to it. With his legs starting to tire he then did manage to run 50 yards to get through on goal and one on one with the keeper. The keeper stayed big and Banners shot straight at him with heavy legs collapsing in a heap on the floor in what appeared to be sheer exhaustion.

Luton did have one last chance in he game as they won a fee kick about twenty two yards out. However the ball was fired over the bar and even though it was close Pally wasn't tested again. Despite not being able to grab a fifth goal Sandy were able to hold on for a hard fought three points and consolidate fifth place in the league. Final score 4-3.



Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Mark Pallister (7)
1. Daniel Stafford (7)
2. Richard Seldon (7)
3. Matt Evans (8)
4. Mark Jennings (8)
7. Rob Tapley (7)
8. John-Joe Pekszyc (8)
9. Ian Hammett (8)
11. Craig Baker (7)
17. Phil Beall (8)
18. Chris Nicholls (8)


3. Shane Pope (8)
5. Brad Smith (7)
13. Olly Banfield (7)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Phil Beall
1 x Mark Jennings
1 x Chris Nicholls
1 x Ian Hammett


1 x Mark Jennings
1 x Richard Seldon
1 x Chris Nicholls
1 x Craig Baker

Man of the Match:

18. Chris Nicholls


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