Sandy Reserves: Match Report v Clifton Reserves

Competition League - Division Four
Result Sandy Reserves 2-5 Clifton Reserves
Date Saturday 03 September 2011
Kick Off 2.30pm

Match Report

Sandy reserves opened their season with a strong performance against an established Clifton side at Bedford Road Recreation ground and were very unlucky to come away with nothing following a well balanced match that hinged on several key refereeing decisions.

Manager Tony Gregory had a full squad to chose from for the contest and he opted to start Nathan Morris in goal, with Matt Baines and Adam Hales at the heart of the defence and Matt Flynn in a new role at left back. Danny Hoole was given a centre midfield berth alongside Ryan Gregory and Reece Stratton was handed a start up front with Jonny Stratford who was making his competitive debut for Sandy.

Sandy started the game strongly and pressed high up the pitch as they used their speed to put pressure on the Clifton backline. Jonny Stratford caused confusion early in the defence as he placed a cross from the left hand side of the box and the defender almost inadvertantly directed the ball back across goal, with the keeper only just recovering in time. Stratford then had a chance himself as Chris Gregory slipped the ball through to him but from an angle he dragged the ball wide of the upright. Clifton were also pushing forwards on the counter attack and won an early corner. The visiting side were much larger than Sandy and they used this well at set pieces, winning the header only to see it cleared off the line by Harry Barham.

Clifton took the lead after ten minutes as Matt Baines was turned inside out down the left channnel allowing the ball to be crossed into the box where Aam Hales was beaten to the ball at the near post by the Clifton forward, leaving Morris no chance in the Sandy goal. Thsi was slightly against the run of play and the home side responded well. Danny Hoole and Matt Flynn both had long shots that sailed over the bar but some nice football was being played allowing them to create opportunities against the visitors. After 18 minutes though Sandy found themselves 2-0 down as the referee awarded them a penalty for a challenge on the edge of the box by Matt Baines. Although it was a foul the ref was in a poor position so in no way could he see if it was in the box however a penalty was given and the the Clifiton player sent Morris the wrong way with the kick.

Again despite the setbakck Sandy responded very well and they continued to push forward and create chances. Reece Startton was looking lively throughout and he released Chris Gregor, but his shot was straight at the keeper. Moments later though Stratton was involved again as he laid the ball back int the path of Ryan Gregory who hit a rasping shot from twenty five yards out that crashed back off the underside of the crossbar. Jonny Stratford reacted quickest to the rebound and tucked the ball away past the Clifton keeper to get the home side back into the game. The home side then were almost level as after some good football between Chris Gregory, Hoole and Stratford enabled Stratford to find Brad Dennis in the box, Dennis shot though was well saved by the Clifton keeper. 

The ref was to again make another controversial decision moments later to take the wind out of the home sides sails. Clifton caught Sandy on a counter attack and their forward rounded keeper Morris, although Adam Hales had been back covering the line so drove him wide. The forward crashed his shot against Hales from a yard away and with Hales unable to take evasive action the ref awarded a harsh handball and the visitors another penalty. Again Morris was sent the wrong way by the spot kick and Clifton led 3-1. Morris was then required to make his first real save of the half as he stopped a shot from point blank range and deflected it away for a corner.

With the half ticking down Sandy had a chance to pull a goal back after Stratton and Stratford combined well to find space in the box. Strattons goalbound shot was cleared off the line and the Stratford could only direct the rebound over. Clifton then missed a guilt edged chance at the other end as they headed over from  when it would of been easier to score. Half time 1-3.

Sandy started the second half knowing that the next goal could be crucial and they defended solidly from the outset trying to soak up the pressure form Clifton. Adam Hales was marshalling the backline well and providing a platform for the home side to try and attack from. Jonny Stratford was still causing the visitors lots of problems and he was brought down on the edge of the box. His freekick found Danny Hoole, but Hoole could only poke his shot goalwards and it was saved easily by the Clifton keeper.

Clifton gradually got into the second half and they forced Nathan Morris into a string of fine saves. The first he saved well at the feet of the Clifton attacker when he was through on goal and the second was and effort that he tipped round the post from close range to keep the scores at 3-1. These saves were to prove vital as Sandy then pulled a goal back. Ryan Gregory found Jonny Stratford with a ball over the top and Stratford ran onto it before lobbing it over the keeper and into the empty net. It was no more than the home side deserved after the work that they had put into the match so far.

The Sandy goal then came under more threat from the visitors and Morris who was putting in a man of the match performance was forced into some more excellent saves. The away side though took advantage of an injury to Matt Flynn though to extened their lead as he lay injured on the halfway line they pushed down the left right flank and the cross in found the Clifton forward who finished well past Morris. Matt Baines who was then having a torrid time against the Clifton number 9 was turned again and the 9 finished well to extend Cliftons lead to 5-2 leaving Morris with no chance.

The young reserves seemed to lose their discipline a little bit in frustration at some very dubious refereeing decisions and Chirs Gregory picked up a booking for his troubles after some persistent moaning at the ref. Reece Stratton almost pulled a goal back for Sandy as he weaved his way into the box and shot from a tight angle but the Clifton keeper saved well with his feet. Other than this the home side couldn't find an opening as their final ball let them down a little. 

Ryan did try his luck from range as did Danny Hoole but neither could test the keeper further. Chris Gregory did have a looping effort that was well held by the Clifton goalkeeper, but Sandy couldn't add to their tally. Manager Tony Gregory was pleased with the performance if not the result and felt that there was a lot of positives to work on before their next game away to Caldecote A. Final score 2-5. 


Match Stats

Starting Line-up:

8. Chris Gregory (6)
9. nathan morris (9)
13. Reece Stratton (7)
14. Matt Flynn (6)
16. Adam Hales (7)
17. Danny Hoole (7)
19. Harry Barham (7)
20. Matt Baines (7)
21. Jonny Stratford (8)
31. Ryan Gregory (8)


16. Matt Balls (6)
16. Gareth Seldon (6)
25. Jack Brown (6)

Goal Scorers:

2 x Jonny Stratford


2 x Ryan Gregory

Man of the Match:

9. nathan morris


8. Chris Gregory


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