Match Report

Brickhill Tigers

12 Jan 2013   2.00PM   Division 1

Brickhill Tigers 3-3 Sandy 1st Team

Sandy travelled to divisional rivals Brickhill Tigers looking to extend their winning run to five games and take all three points to get themselves back into the promotion race. Previous games had proven though that this was going to be anything but an easy task and on a smallish pitch, in less than perfect weather conditions it was always going to be a test for the in form visiting side. Nathan Morris was absent due to work commitments but other than that everyone was present, and Paul 'Juicy' Chamberlain after impressing in two substitute appearances was handed a start through the middle with Hammett moving to the left flank and Ryan Gregory dropping to the bench.

It was obvious from the off that it was going to be a difficult afternoon as both teams struggled to settle. Brickhill looked more fired up and were winning the midfield battle with them seemingly first to every loose ball and making some good off the ball runs that were causing Sandy problems. However they were still being reduced to long shots which were failing to trouble Pally in the Sandy goal. However the visitors were being pegged back into their half and were at times struggling to clear the ball as touches were letting players down. Despite the poor start Sandy were starting to settle and win a few balls. They began to look to release Juicy over the top and he was causing problems, although most of the time he was being hauled down. 

He did manage to win Sandy a corner though and they almost took the lead against the run of play as Hammetts delivery was met by Beally, his header was directed back across goal to an apparently open Gilly who couldn't get any power behind his direction and the ball was cleared off the line and away. The game was scrappy with both sides now evenly matched in both formation and play, however Sandy were looking the most likely. Juicy had a shot ftrom the edge of the box that the keeper held well and then he and Hammett combined on the edge of the area only for Hammetts shot to be blocked. It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Sandy made their pressure tell, but unexpectedly they were then hit with a sucker punch as the home side used the wind to good effect to take the lead.

A long ball up the pitch was misjudged by both Beally and Wrenny, which allowed the Brickhill forward to creep in between them. He then fired a speculative early shot from all of thirty five yards which caught the wind and Pally in the Sandy goal totally off guard and flew into the top corner of the net with the Sandy stopper only able to watch as the home took the lead. This understandably rocked the visiting side and Brickhill pushed forwards. It was only some last ditch defending from Beally, Pope and JJ that managed to block shots and stop the the home side causing more problems.

Sandy knew that they needed to up their performance and slowly but surely they managed to get a foothold in the game. Juicy and Jennings combined well on the edge of the box with the latter firing a shot goalwards that was well tipped round the post by the home sides keeper for a corner. Sandy's tried and tested combo of Hammett and Beally then combined to bring the scores level as Beally connected with Hammetts cross to head powerfully home into the roof of the net and bring the match back all square. Sandy were casuing all sorts of problems from set pieces and the two players almost combined soon after with this time Beally being denied at the near post.

The visitors then were given a warning of just how dangerous there hosts could be as they caught Sandy napping with a fast break and Brickhill finished a flowing move off at the back post only to be denied by the linesmans flag. This infuriated Brickhill, and they began to loose their cool as the referee made some interesting decisions adding further fuel to the fire and ensuring that both sets of players were becoming more and more frustrated. The homes side were then further aggrieved when they then found themselves behind from another Sandy corner. This time though it was Wrenny on the end of Hammetts cross and although Juicy tried to get a flick on it he missed it and the unsighted defender deflected the ball into the bottom corner to give Sandy a 2-1 lead. 

The whole half had been a scrappy affair, with Burgess hardly touching the ball on the right flank and Sandy struggling to get any sort of flow to their play. They then had to withstand some heavy pressure from Brickhill, Pally held a dangerous cross well and then punched clear from another Brickhill corner that looked threatening. Sandy were defending for their lives and Wrenny and Beally made blocks in the box from scrappy set pieces. It was proving to be a war of attrition and somehow Sandy had come out on top. They knew that they would have to up their performance though to get anything from the game. Half time 2-1. 

The second half started much the same as the first had with the home side dominating from the off and really looking like they fancied getting something from the contest. They were often being caught offside though as Sandy held a high line, although they did break free on one occassion and Sandy had Pally to thank for making a good one on one save that deflected the ball wide for a corner. It was real backs to the all stuff with the home side seemingly having more numbers on the pitch somehow.

Usually good in possession Sandy were struggling to keep hold of the ball all over the field and this was making things very difficult. Brickhill were outworking and outbattling the visitors and they were often just a last ditch tackle from getting in behind. They hit the bar from a corner and almost got in down the right flank except Shane Pope was covering well from Left back. Sandy were being kept quiet and were not able to carve anything much of note out to threaten the Brickhill keeper. It was all about hard work defending.  

One half chance fell to the unlikely recipient though as JJ almost extended Sandy's lead. Juicy was released down the right flank and the Sandy striker did well to put two players before pulling the ball back from the byline into JJ who connected to curl the ball just onto the top of the bar from the edge of the box. Sandy then suffered the blow of having to replace keeper Mark Pallister who was carrying a groin injury. Like so many clubs an outfield player was going to have to go in goal and Sandy were no different having to move Andrew Wren into the sticks and disrupt the back four. JJ slotted into centre back and Sandy had to switch to a 4-4-1-1 formation.

After defending stoically for so long with 33 minutes of the half still left this wasn't what Sandy needed and they took time to reorganise. Burgess then suffered a blow to the head and looking dazed he was replaced so now Sandy had two new wingers on as Gregory came on for Pally and Banfield replaced Burgess. The home side had also made changes to freshen things up and they were now pushing Sandy well back into their own half. Inspite of the home side being in the ascendancy, Beally was performing excellently at the heart of Sandy's defence and desperately defending everything. Seldon on the right side had a torrid afternoon and it was to get no easier when he gifted the home side an equaliser. Under pressure from the winger he chose to try and play a back pass to Wrenny in the Sandy goal, but got it horribly wrong and the Brickhill forward capitalised to knock the ball past the replacement Sandy keeper.

This understandably shell shocked Sandy who had worked hard and they were almost left further reeling when they had a clear header at the back post from a freekick only for Wrenny to come to the rescue and tip the ball behind. It was only a momentary restbite though as Brickhill scored from the corner with their forward finding space and directing a header unmarked into the bottom corner before wheeling away in celebration. Brickhill led 3-2 with 20 minutes left. 

Finally this did seem to galvanise the visiting side into action, whether the home side felt the job had been done or whether Sandy lifted their performance you couldn't tell, but Sandy were looking to get in. Banfield and Juicy were hauled down on the edge of the box giving two seperate freekicks that could easily have yielded penalties as Hammett delivered both, firstly to see Beally hauled down and then Wrenny in what appeared to be stonewall shouts. With time beginning to run out though Sandy wondered if they would find the equaliser. Wrenny launched a long ball that Juicy challenged for, the defender won the header but could only flick it on. Hammett latched onto the mistake and controlled the ball with his head before calmly chipping it over the advancing keeper and bringing Sandy level 3-3.

The excitement wasn't over though as Banners was again chopped down on the edge of the box. This time Hammett's cross was claimed by the keeper who then collided with his own defender and dropped the ball. Beally stuck out his leg and diverted the ball across the line in the scramble and Sandy went wild with celebrations. However they were unbelievably denied the three points as the ref gave a foul on the Brickhill keeper... who had been fouled by his own player. Sandy felt robbed. They were then further aggrieved when Juicy and Hammett capitilised on a mistake from a short freekick. The home sides centre back messed it up and Hammett got to the ball before the keeper who was 20 yards out of his box. Hammett attempted to head it over him but he deliberately handballed it and denied Hammett being through on an open goal. The ref although giving the freekick, decided it was only a booking and Brickhill managed to see out the contest with 11 men defending the set piece. 

With Sandy once again on the attack, the ref blew his whistle and brought the scrappy game to a close. Sandy were relieved to have grabbed a point but disappointed to have been robbed of all three. Final score 3-3.