Sandy 1st Team: Match Report v Marston Shelton Rovers

Competition Cup - Centenary Cup Semi Final
Result Sandy 1st Team 2-0 Marston Shelton Rovers
Date Saturday 24 March 2012
Kick Off 2.30pm

Match Report

It was a glorious afternoon at Bedford Road as Sandy hosted 2nd placed Marston Shelton Rovers in an intriguing Semi Final tie in the Centenary cup. Both the league meetings between these two sides had been very close and keenly contested and today was to prove to be no different.

Manager Ian Hammett made a couple of changes from last weeks defeat with Matt Evans moving to centre back and Olly Banfield restored to the starting line up on the right of midfield. Phil Beall passed a late fitness test to boost the team and Pally also returned to take his place in between the sticks as usual. In front of a record crowd of 72 people the atmosphere was electric!!  

Sandy started the stronger of the two teams and settled the quickest. Working as a tight unit they defended solidly coping with the 5 in midfield without too much trouble and stopping Marston from playing. Alongside Beally, Matt Evans slotted in easily and the pair worked in tandem providing a solid foundation for the rest of the team to build on. The home side were the first to fire a warning shot as from a corner, Seldon couldn't  quite get the flick and Marston cleared but Seldon got the loose ball and found Hammett. Hammett whipped in another cross finding Staf 12 yards out, but Sandy's leading scorer couldn't get any power on the ball and the keeper held the effort easily. Staf then moments later was kicked in the face by a foot that wasn't high apparently and he needed treatment for a bloody nose.

The next two chances fell to cup scoring specialist Mark Jennings who went close on both occasions. The first came after some good play down the right hand side and Marston could only half clear the ball to Jennings who took a touch and then fired the ball just wide of the far post. His second effort was even closer as from a Sandy corner Chris Nicholls found him on the edge of the box again and this time his left footed shot went just past the outside of the post. Sandy were really beginning to press now and imposing themselves on the tie. The next chance fell to Staf after some great work by Banners. Olly win the ball off the left winger and then beat him before squaring the ball to Staf who couldn't sort his feet put and get anything on the ball.

Sandy knew that they had to keep working and Tappers and Jennings were dictating the midfield battle and working well as a defensive unit too. The back four were competing well with the Marston forwards and Beally was showing no ill effects from his injury making good challenges and winning most. Matt Evans was giving an assured performance and Pope and Seldon were dealing well with the tricky wingers. Pally was reduced to a virtual spectator but when required he claimed several crosses under pressure with calm authority.

Sandy then almost went 1-0 up as a long cleared ball found Staf and he burst away from the left back and into the box. With Hammett square he decided to go alone, shooting past the diving Marston keeper only to see his shot rebound back off the post. Agonisingly for the home side the rebound didn't go anywhere near Hammett who would of had a simple tap in. The clear cut chances were falling to the home side and although the contest was quite even, Sandy certainly had the better of the play. Banfield and Nicholls were working overtime on the flanks covering runs and also bursting forwards where possible. Both players made great blocks in the box when the visitors threatened to get in behind and both worked well in tandem with their respective full backs. The discipline that Sandy showed ensured that other than from set pieces Marston posed little threat. They had one chance of note, as they made the three in midfield count and a lovely ball inside Seldon released the winger but he fired over the bar.  

The half though came to a close with the scores level 0-0 and both sides knew they had a chance to win it.

Marston started the better in the second half and had the better of the opening exchanges. Sandy were pinned back in their own half but some solid defending by Pope and Nicholls on the left ensured that again there was no real end product. Any cross that did find its way into the box was dealt with by Beally and Evans as well as Seldon. 

Seeming to have learnt their lessons from last week though, they stayed calm and Sandy slowly began to get a foothold more in the game and they seemed to be the team that had the most belief. Nicholls was pushing forwards now and Sandy won a succession of throw ins near the box. However they couldn't quite find the final ball that would produce a goal.

It wasn't long though before the home side did make their pressure tell and a lapse in concentration cost the visitors. Shane Pope burst forward from the left back slot following a corner. He picked the ball up and a challenge looked to have deflected the ball out. Both sides were asking for the ball but Pope kept going, kept the ball in to the surprise of everyone and squared it to Staf who had all the time in the world to smash the ball past the Marston keeper. 1-0

This was just what the home side deserved and they didn't let themselves down either as they stayed solids and didn't look like giving Marston a sniff. Sandy were looking for a 2nd goal and Chris Nicholls had the best chance as he played a one two with Hammett and then burst into the box. Beating the last defender he was one on one with the keeper but just at the crucial time he seemed to lose the ball in his feet and the keeper recovered to block the ball away for a corner. Hammett whipped the corner in and there was a scramble but neither Staf or Jennings could get to it and the danger was cleared. Staf then looked to be lining up a JD winning bicycle kick but he stumbled under pressure and the ball went out.

Marston made changes and one of these almost caught Sandy napping from a free kick. The forward got round the back and cut the ball across goal for it to be tapped home by another player but Sandy were relieved to see the linesman raise his flag for offside and maintain Sandy's 1-0 lead. With 20 minutes to go Baker replaced Banfield, Staf then went on a powerful run through the visiting team but he ran out of room and the Marston right back made the tackle. Sandy knew that they would need a second goal to kill the tie or at least give them some breathing space. 

Matt Evans pumped the ball forward looking for Baker. Baker pressured the defender and he played back to the keeper. The keeper shanked the clearance straight to Hammett who pounced. Hammett took one touch into the box and then fired a shot that was so fierce the keeper couldn't hold it and he spilled it behind him and agonisingly saw it roll across the line despite a defender trying desperately to save it. 2-0

This was the goal they needed and Hammett immediately replaced himself with Seward to try and bring fresh legs on. Charlie worked really hard to make an impact and got involved straight away creating a chance for Sandy's third with Chris Nicholls. Seward found Nicholls who then squared it to Staf, staf took a touch but then fired over the bar when he should of had his 2nd goal. This was Stafs last action as struggling with cramp he was replaced by Morgan who slotted into the back five to help keep the clean sheet. This meant that Yossi Morris turned out to be an unused sub on the day.

This seemed to be the right decision though as soon after Morgan headed away a dangerous cross. Sandy were now looking the most likely on the counter attack. Jennings and Tapley were pushing on to support Seward and they played a nice one-two but Jennings couldn't get in. The home side though saw out the end of the game to triumph with a splendid performance 2-0.

It was a hard fought game, but Sandy finally showed their potential and produced possibly their best display of the season. Next it's Ickwell in the final. Well done lads. Final score 2-0. 

Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

1. Daniel Stafford (10)
1. Mark Pallister (10)
2. Richard Seldon (10)
3. Matt Evans (10)
3. Shane Pope (10)
4. Mark Jennings (10)
7. Rob Tapley (10)
9. Ian Hammett (10)
13. Olly Banfield (10)
17. Phil Beall (10)
18. Chris Nicholls (10)


2. Luke Morgan (9)
4. Charlie Seward (9)
11. Craig Baker (9)

Goal Scorers:

1 x Daniel Stafford
1 x Ian Hammett


1 x Shane Pope

Man of the Match:

3. Matt Evans


1. Mark Pallister

Match Photos - Match Action: Centenary Cup Semi Final 24/3/2012

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