Match Report

AFC Kempston Town Reserves

31 Oct 2009   2.30PM   Division 1

AFC Kempston Town Reserves 2-1 Sandy 1st Team

In true Halloween style Sandy FC's haunting performance was enough to send shivers down your spine (Phil Beall, Facebook, 2009) as they managed to through away a lead against weak opposition and capitulate to another defeat against a team that on another day they would have beaten.

Manager Dan Bailey kept faith with the side that had battled to a hard earned win last week against Kempston Hammer Sports and the afternoon started positively as within 10 minutes Sandy were in front. After a sustained period of pressure during the opening exchanges Sandy won a throw in near the corner flag on the right side. Brad Smith found Charlie Seward with the throw, Seward laid the ball back to Smith who floated a cross to the back post where Craig Baker rose above the defence to loop a header over the keeper.

Having made such a great start and with confidence obviously flowing through the side, any spectator would have been forgiven for thinking that Sandy would push on and win convincingly but the afternoon was to end very differently. Things started to go wrong when Sandy lost Andrew Wren from their backline fifteen minutes into the contest. Wren who felt ill (hungover) was replaced by Daniel Bailey who slotted in at right back with captain Richard Seldon moving into central defence alongside Phil Beall.

The usually dependable Phil Beall then had a couple of moments that he would rather forget as the bobbly pitch contrived to stop him cutting out two through balls which he would usually snuff out, fortunately for Beall his long legs managed to help him recover both times to clear the danger at the second time of asking. Kempston were looking threatening anfd 25 minutes in Richard Seldon made a goalline clearance from a corner as he threw himself in front of a powerful shot at the back post to ensure that Sand maintained their lead.

Kempston were creating plenty of opportunites, but Mark Pallister in the Sandy goal was having a relatively untroubled time as their finishing failed to test him. Any shots that did come his way were tame and he saved them easily. At this point Sandy were also creating opportunites to add to their lead, but some horror finishing cost them dearly. Craig Baker had chances to add to his tally, first he broke free on the right hand side after a good through ball by Chris Baines, but he couldn't decide between shooting or squaring the ball to the unmarked Ian Hammett and in the end did neither allowing the defender to clear. Then he broke free on the left and was one on one with the keeper, but the Kempston Keeper saved well as he pushed the ball away for a corner.

Chris Baines then hit the bar with a long range effort that was possibly an overhit cross, but nonetheless it beat the keeper and crashed against the bar just eluding Craig Baker as he ran in. Sandy were working hard trying to deny Kempston time on the ball, and some last ditch tackling and clearing ensured that the scores stayed the same until Half time. 1 - 0.

Sandy knew that the next goal would be key and they felt that if they could get it then they would go on and win the game convincingly, but the second half started the same as the first half had finished with an open game and chances for both sides. You always felt that the score wouldn't stay the same and it didn't.  Craig Baker once again had an opportunity to add to the lead when a diagonal ball from Charlie Seward sent him clear, but his deft flick over the keeper spun just wide as he and Ian Hammett tried to follow the ball in. It was one of those days for Baker who then headed over from a Chris Baines corner.

20 minutes into the half and AFC Kempston were level, as they broke free down the right hand side and a square ball into the box was tucked away well past a helpless Mark Pallister from six yards out. Despite the goal and the growing confidence of Kempston, Sandy pushed on and Chris Baines had an effort from 20 yards well saved by the Kempston keeper. Phil Beall then had an effort well saved after a one two with Steve Jakes following a cross field ball by Ian Hammett created him some space to shoot. AFC Kempstons Goalkeeper though appeared to behaving one of those afternoons when he managed to hold onto every shot and following the goal looked like he wouldn't be beaten again.

To knock the wind out of Sandy completely Kempston then took the lead as they counter-attacked the length of the field to score. In the build up Steve Jakes and Ian Hammett had combined well to create an opportunity for Hammett, but his cross shot was too near to the goalkeeper to reach Craig Baker at the far post, then before you knew it AFC Kempston were at the other end and despite Mark Jennings and Richard Seldon throwing themselves in front of the shot it took a deflection and looped over the stranded Pallister who was diving to save the first effort.

Sandy then huffed and puffed but couldn't find an equaliser, as chance after chance went begging. Mark Jennings headed against the bar after a good cross from Chris Baines, and the keeper then held onto another long range effort from Baines himself. In the dying seconds Craig Baker missed a gilt edged chance to level the scores as Iain Alderson chipped a lovely cross to the back post where Baker was unmarked, but with the goal at his mercy he headed straight at the goalkeeper when if he had headed the ball anywhere else it was a goal.

Agonisingly the referee blew his whistle shortly after the keeper had kicked the ball, and Sandy were left to rue an afternoon of missed chances and defensive mistakes which ensured Halloween was not a happy one for the side. Full time 1 - 2.