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Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Luton Old Boys (Saturday)

Competition League - Division One
Result Luton Old Boys (Saturday) 1-4 Sandy 1st Team
Date Saturday 19 February 2011
Kick Off 2.30pm
Attendance15

Match Report

Sandy faced a potential banana skin in their efforts to keep their current unbeaten run in the league alive with a trip to bottom place Luton Old Boys. On paper it appeared to be an easy tie for the visiting side, but the current resurgence of Luton and the tricky weather conditions which caused a heavy pitch would ensure that it was a tough afternoon.

Sandy travelled though with the strongest 14 players that they could, with Charlie Seward returning to the first team squad and Ben Wilks returning from a back injury. Manager Ian Hammett decided to go with the same starting line up that produced a solid performance last week against Blunham and the settled side were to be rewarded with a strong performance. The game started scrappily though as both teams struggled on the boggy pitch and passes went astray on a regular basis as players couldn't get any purchase on their passes due to the mud caked to their boots. Sandy came under some early pressure as the home side got the ball down and played some football without really threatening. Defensively Sandy were again strong as the settled back five worked well together to snuff out any possible opening. Matt Evans and Phil Beall were once again solid and the Luton forwards had little joy finding any space.

Gradually Sandy started to get into the game and they began pressing high up the field. This led to the first opportunity for the visitors and the first goal. Mark Jennings pressed well and won the ball, poking it through to Ian Hammett. Hammett took the ball into the box and his powerful shot forced a good save from the Luton keeper who tipped it away for a corner. Hammett delivered a wicked ball into the box that Phil Beall got on the end of with a looping header. The header completely caught the keeper out and sailed in over his head to drop into the goal and give the visitors the lead. This spurred Sandy on and it wasn't long before it was two nil as Dan Stafford scored his fifth goal for the club with a simple one yard tap in. Hammett again had whipped in a near post corner that was cleared straight back to him and he drilled in a low cross, Phil Beall missed with an attempted flick, but this caught the defence out who all missed the ball and Staf tapped it home.

At two nil Sandy looked comfortable and they had a couple of chances to extened their lead. Hammett, Jennings, JJ and Richard Seldon combined with a flowing move that saw Hammett whip a ball into Staf who slotted the ball home only to be flagged offside. Then Hammett released Staf with chipped through ball but the keeper managed to block the shot away for a corner as Staf got to it first. Rob Tapley was getting into the game more and more and finding space and it was his cross that again foind Staf in the box, but his header from 12 yards looped into the keepers hands.

The only joy that the home side were getting was when Sandy gave the ball away, and it was a lack of composure that led to Luton pulling a goal back completely against the run of play. Luton won a corner after Shane Pope failed to clear the ball at the first attempt in part of the game where he was having a torrid five minutes. The corner was whipped in and number 7 for the home side connected with a bullet header that Mark Pallister in the Sandy goal could only tip onto the underside of the bar before it fell across the line. This had been the only real chance they had, and they were right back into the tie. The goal lifted the tempo of Luton and they pushed forward . Mark Jennings worked hard in centre midfield to try and break up play as the defence stood strong under pressure. They had a couple of long range efforts that went wide and faield to trouble Pally.

Hammett and Staf were linking well together up front again and it was almost three as Hammett tried to thread the ball through to Staf whose first time shot curled just wide giving the home side a warning. It was Staf though who was to create his second goal and Sandy's third as he charged down a clearance and then cracked a stunning shot in from twenty yards out giving the keeper no chance of stopping it. Luton were still dangerous and as the half was coming to a close they had a free kick on the right which was whipped into the corridor of uncertainty between the back four and the goal keeper, but luckily for Sandy no one managed to get on the end of it and their two goal lead remained intact. Half time 3-1.

Sandy knew that the second half would be a battle and that the next goal in the match could well be vital. The home side started the brighter and put the visitors under pressure early, their centre forward was seeing more of the ball and his skill and trickery created a couple of openings but his final shot let him down and he failed to test Pally. Luton did win a couple of corners but Sandy held strong as several players made towering clearances to clear the ball. Sandy made an early change replacing Craig Baker who had seemed a little out of sorts with Ben Wilks and shortly after coming on Wilks almost added a fourth goal. Staf broke free down the right and his cut back found Wilks at the back post, but his effort on the run from 15 yards curled powerfully into the keepers arms.

Another chance almost presented itself as JJ whipped in a dangerous looking cross from the right, but as Hammett waited to head into an empty net the keeper plucked the ball out of the air. Phil Beall was obviously keen to add to his afternoons tally as well. He kept breaking forwards and had a curling effort saved by the keeper although Hammett was flagged for being offside. Richard Seldon was also getting more and more in the game at right back as he began to rampage forwards in his typical bullish style and he almost found himself with a sight of goal at the back post only for the defender to clear at the last moment. 

With twenty five minutes to go Ron Tapley was replaced by Charlie Seward that saw Hammett move out onto the right flank and JJ move into the center of midfield. As the visitors were coming under increasing pressure Hammett proved to be a valuable outlet to relieve pressure and create chances for Sandy. Firstly he broke away and whipped the ball into Staf who controlled and shot wide from the edge of the box. Hammett then combined a nice one two with Charlie before getting to the by line and cutting the ball back to Seward who shot wide. Seward had his best opportnity of the afternoon after good work from Ben Wilks who curled in a lovely ball into the six yard box, but Charlie couldn't connect well enough and the keeper saved from close range.

Hammett then again turned creator as he teed up JJ, but JJ's right foot shot curled just wide of the far post. Hammett then had his second chance of the afternoon to get the goal his play deserved as Staff released him down the right, he cut inside his defender but his left foot shot was well saved by the keeper who stood up well. With the score still at 3-1 the home side pushed forward and tried to get back into the game. Really it was a miracle that they didn't get a second goal somehow as first a shot was drilled across the goal with Pally beaten but somehow the three players at the back post all failed to get a touch to put the ball home as it rolled wide. Then from a corner the first cross wasn't cleared properly and Hammett was required to clear the goalbound shot off the line before Pally punched the ball to safety.

Staf was struggling with Heavy legs at this point and he was replaced by Morgan who slotted in as a defensive midfielder. Morgan was called into action shortly after as he made an excellent sliding tackle in the box to block a goal mouth shot. Finally with the clock ticking down Sandy got there fourth and Charlie got the goal he was looking for. Shane Pope went on a run down the left and the whipped in a dangerous cross, Hammett nipped in front of the keeper but his as he slid in the ball was blocked and looped up for Seward to react and stab the ball home from 1 yard. This was no more than Sandy had deserved and all but sealed the win.

They held out well for the last couple of minutes and ensured that they took all three points from a very tricky game. The win saw Sandy move up to a season high sixth place just one point behind fifth placed Bedford SA. Manager Ian Hammett was pleased with the win and pleased that his side had extended their unbeaten run in the league to 9 games. Bring on Potton next week. Final Score 4-1.

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

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

Subs:

2. Luke Morgan (8)
4. Charlie Seward (8)

Goal Scorers:

2 x Daniel Stafford
1 x Phil Beall
1 x Charlie Seward

Assists:

3 x Ian Hammett

Man of the Match:

9. Ian Hammett

Booked:

8. John-Joe Pekszyc

 

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