Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Marston Shelton Rovers

Competition League - Division One
Result Marston Shelton Rovers 2-1 Sandy 1st Team
Date Saturday 03 December 2011
Kick Off 2.00pm

Match Report

Sandy travelled to top of the table Marston looking to extend their winning run to 7 games in the league and cement a place amongst the promotion contenders. Manager Ian Hammett changed formation, playing three in the centre of midfield as he looked to stop the hosts from playing the ball around and stifle their attacking game. Other than that the same 11 started the game that had played the previous week against Kempston.

The home side started well as they looked to put pressure on Sandy, but this was just as the visitors had expected and their compact formation frustrated the league leaders. Baker, Nicholls and Jennings worked hard to close down and pressure the opposition into mistakes, and when Marston did get through the back four of Pekszyc, Beall, Seldon and Pope cleared the ball well and won their personal battles. Much like Sandy, Marston had a dangerous weapon in their locked with a long throw and with ten minutes gone they used it to good effect, Sandy won the initial header but the ball fell kindly to one of their players and his powerful snapshot through the crowd of players was superbly palmed away by Mark Pallister in the Sandy goal. His quick reactions saved the day and then Richard Seldon cleared the ball away to safety. Believe it or not this was to prove to be the only real save that Pally had to make all afternoon.

Having resisted the initial storm, Sandy then set about pushing forwards as Hammett, Baker, Nicholls and Evans looked to support leading goal scorer Staf who was plowing a lone furrow up front. As always though Staf was causing no wend of problems and fifteen minutes in he was brought down on the edge of the box after seemingly getting away from the last defender and keeper. To Sandy's utmost surprise the ref didn't even brandish a card to the lucky home player who had clearky stopped Staf from running on and tapping the ball into the empty net. Surely by the letter of the law he should of walked.

Hammett stepped up, but curled the freekick just wide. Then Matt Evans and Craig Baker combined well down the left hand side and Baker with quick feet got into the box before being brought down. Penalty!! Hammett gave spot kick duties to Staf who stepped up and curled the ball home low to the keepers left to give the visitors a deserved lead. Marston were shell shocked and they were struggling to cope with Sandy as the visitors dominated the contest. Sandy were almost in again as Seldon found Hammett down the right, and his cross found Staf at the near post. Staf got to the ball ahead of his marker, but under tremendous pressure he could only steer the ball over.

The Hammett had a chance as Matt Evans made some space down the left and curled a cross into the box, Staf rose and directed the ball at the keeper who saved well. The ball however rebounded to Hammett at the back post, but it seemed to take an age to come down and his side foot volley was blocked well by the keeper who was proving to have an outstanding afternoon. Sandy then had a succession of corners, but unusally they couldn't get anything on one and couldn't quite get a shot away at goal even though on a couple of occassions the home keeper dropped the ball under pressure.

Marston were probing and pressing themselves trying to make something count, but each time Sandy resisted. Phil Beall was getting legs on everything as he cleared and blocked passes and shots. He and JJ were having their hands full dealing with the big strong Marston number 9 who won lots in the air, although Beally and Pekszyc battled superbly with him for the most part winning their fair share. Seldon and Pope were their typically robust selves no giving the wingers any joy and forcing the home side to switch players to cope. With the half winding down Sandy almost created a real chance to extend their lead as Hammett released staf down the right. Staf Powered past his defender and broke towards the box, however with the ball bobbling around on the dodgy pitch he couldn't quite find the square ball back to Hammett who would of had a tap in.

Marston then had a succession of long throws as the half came to a close, but each one was defended well by the visitors and they never really looked like scoring. Sandy remained stoic until half time holding the score at 1-0.

During the break Hammett urged concentration from all the players, wary of the fact that Sandy had been ahead 2-1 at half time against both Lidlington and Ickwell. This time though Sandy looked strong and focused and although they knew Marston would come out with renewed vigour it looked like the visitors would remain solid.

Marston started the half well as they began to push forwards looking for the equaliser, but Sandy met them head on. Forcing the play high up the field and ensuring that Marston couldn't get out of their half Sandy worked well. Staf was still chasing hard up front and Baker and Matt Evans were doing well to get up in support for him. Sandy won a couple of corners that caused problems in the box and Matt Evans had a goalbound shot blocked as it looked to be heading in.

Sandy knew that they needed that second goal but they just couldn't create the goal scoring opportunity that they needed. It was only a matter of time before they were to be punished for that. Marston made a sub about ten minutes into the half and he made an almost immediate impact. Sandy cleared the initial free kick away, for a corner and then they defended the corner well. However Marstons Speedy left winger kept the ball in and clipped a wicked cross across the face of goal. It missed out eveybody and as Shane went to close the ball down, their right winger chipped the ball in for the sub to head home from five yards out totally unmarked as Sandy players stood and watched realising their error too late. Pally had no chance. 1-1

This really shell shocked Sandy as they had given Marston nothing but one goal so often leads to two and within the next two minute Sandy were behind. The ball bobbled around on the edge of the area as Sandy failed to get good contact to clear and from the edge of the box a shot through the legs of a Sandy player took a deflection and then sailed into the bottom corner again leaving Pally with little chance. Sandy couldn't believe it as they had worked so hard slight lapses in concentration had just cost them. This mad two minutes was the only time that Marston dominated the contest.

In response Sandy switched to 4-4-2 and Banfield came on to replace the injured Hammett. Olly's pace and strength were always going to help and he won several free kicks in dangerous places down the right wing. JJ decided that in the absence of Hammett he would become the provider and he kept curling in good looking balls. one almost found it's way through to Staf at the back post who despairingly threw himself at the ball but he couldn't get anything on it to steer it home. From another JJ dead ball he found Staf at the back post. Staf rose up and headed the ball goalwards but the keeper plucked the ball out of the air.

Sandy were putting so much pressure on the home side now and it shoul of been 2-2 as Baker found some space in the box after he and Banfield battled for the ball. However he could only toe poke the ball past the far post, as it narrowly missed the target. Hammett then replaced Baker with Morris in the hope that Natahn could get a goal or two.

However it was to be two defenders that had the next best chances. Phil Beall broke from the back and then curled a dipping shot just past the right corner of the goal as the keeper scrambled hoping the ball would miss which it just did and then from another Sandy set piece the ball dropped to Richard Seldons left foot in the box and he could only shoot wide.Matt evans and Olly Banfield were peppering the box with long throws and Sandy won a couple of corners as the clock winded down. Nicholls curled in the first and Morris rose with an acrobatic bicycle kick towards goal that was sailing in before it was blocked away for another corner. This time Morris took the set piece and found JJ who directed his header powerfully towards goal. It looked certain to be the equaliser until the Marston Keeper came out of nowhere to dive between two players feet and block the ball on the line.

Marston were desperate to hold on for the win and they closed everything dwon well. They didn't however create any clear cut goalscoring chances and again the backline of Sandys looked solid, even when Pally decided to start going up for set pieces. On the break the home side did miss an open goal afer JJ shanked a free kick but they still couldn't extend their lead. Despite throwing the kitchen sink at their hosts the ball just wouldn't fall their way and Marston held on to break Sandy's winning run and extend their lead at the top of the table to six points.

Sandy were left to rue the fact that two crazy minutes in the second half had cost them dearly, when most neutral spectators would have seen Sandy dominate the contest for 88 minutes and get their tactics spot on. Today though it wasn't to be and Sandy were consigned to defeat for the first time in 7 league games. Final score 1-2. 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

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


13. Nathan Morris (7)
13. Olly Banfield (7)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Daniel Stafford


1 x Craig Baker

Man of the Match:

17. Phil Beall


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