Match Report

Kings AFC

08 Dec 2012   2.00PM   Division 1

Kings AFC 0-2 Sandy 1st Team

Sandy travelled to second from bottom Kings AFC looking to kickstart their Christmas celebrations early by picking up their third win on the bounce. The hosts Kings AFC had given Sandy two good contests last season so despite their early season troubles they were certainly not going to be any push overs and this was going to be far from an easy task. Nathan Morris returned to the starting line up in the only change made by manager Ian Hammett as he rested himself, and with the reserves not having a game Jonny Stratford and Scott Dora were called up to bolster the squad in the absence of Dave Lenton and Hammett.

Sandy started the game with confidence and looked to impose themselves early by spreading the play. They threatened the Kings goal within the first few minutes as Banners launched a long throw into the box and Wrenny who had gone forward flicked it on. Ryan Gregory reacted first and hooked an instinctive volley just over the cross bar with the keeper scrambling. Despite this early action, goal threats from either side were then few and far between as the contest developed into a midfield battle as each team tried to establish some dominance in the game.

Sandy were looking totally assured at the back though with Beally and Wrenny cutting out every single through ball and not giving the home side a sniff of getting in. Their positioning was superb as the partnership really seems to be developing in recent weeks. Seldon and Pope were equally as solid and despite an early scare when Pope caught his knee in the ground, there was nothing to worry about as each player kept their winger under wraps. The back four were absorbing everything that Kings could muster and then Sandy were trying to fast break, but Nathan was isolated up top and struggling to get into the game. Gregory and Banners were having some joy down the flanks and enjoying the space, whilst Jennings seemed to be bypassed often by the game as he worked hard behind Morris.

Patience was obviously going to be the order of the day and slowly but surely the visiting side began to find their footing and play some football. They were the only team carrying any sort of goal threat as well and they had the next best chance as Jennings picked up the ball and slotted a lovely ball inside the full back to Banners on the right. Banners beat his defender and then fired his shot goalwards, but the Sandy winger was a little off balance and it was always rising, just clipping the top of the bar and not troubling the keeper. Jennings was then involved again on the 22nd minute when Beally combined some luck and skill to create a wonderful opportunity. Managing to escape with a slight handball on half way the Sandy centre back marauded forwards in true brazilian centre back style. He beat three players down the right before producing a great ball into the box finding Jennings at the back post who volleyed just wide of the far post with the keeper routed to the spot.

Inspite of the dominance Sandy couldn't make the breakthrough and Kings AFC started to enjoy a period of pressure and possession in Sandy's half. They won a few corners but each one was headed away and defended well by the robust defence. Wrenny was dominant in the air as were Beally and JJ and this ensured that Pally was again reduced to a spectator for the most part, occassionally taking the odd goal kick. Goal mouth action was again at a premium and the contest was finely balanced as both sides probed for an opening. A lovely piece of football then produced a great chance for Banfield as Sandy countered from a Kings Afc Corner. They broke at speed and Seldon was found down the right by another good Jennings ball. Seldon pulled the ball across the edge of the box, Morris stepped over it and Banfield was in, with the goal at his mercy he made the wrong decision to cut back in on his right foot instead of swinging the left leg and off balance he snatched his shot wide.

Trying to make up for letting the chance pass him by, he then turned provider moments later as he cut in off the right and fed a great ball through to Morris who finally escaped the backline, just as he was about to pull the trigger the Kings centre back made a great recovery challenge and nicked the ball away. The Sandy forward could really of done with a shout. The positve side was they were threatening though and not being unduely troubled. In fact it was with pretty much the last kick of the half that Pally had to make his first save from long range as he held onto a tame effort. Just before the half Sandy were forced into a change as Ryan Gregory was struggling with a cold and not feeling great so he asked to be withdrawn with Burgess taking over from him on the left. Half time 0-0.

With the match finely poised it was crucial that Sandy started the second half with discipline and intensity and then took any chance that presented itself and a tackle made by Gilly early in the half set the tone as he cleanly won the ball with a crunching challenge. Sandy didn't then have to wait long before they took advantage of an opportunity as they won a freekick on half way. Beally launched the ball forwards and found his partner Wrenny in the opposing box. Wrenny headed the ball down to Morris who didn't quite conect with his shot but it squirmed across goal to an open Burgess who didn't need a second invitation to fire the ball home from close range and give Sandy the lead.

This goal galvanised Sandy and they began to work harder, winning the ball higher and penning Kings back into their half. Once again built on solid foundations JJ was dominating the midfield and winning most challenges as well as headers, He then constantly made himself available for the easy pass as he was clearly relishing his midfield role. Sandy kept their shape better in the early stages of the second half too and this meant that they won the ball higher up the pitch. Banners and Morris combined with Morris just being caught offisde by a pass that was momentarily delayed, but it was the threat of things to come.

The home side were beginning to argue amongst themselves and just trying to catch Sandy on the counter attack, however every ball in the air was headed away and every through ball was well gathered by Pally in the Sandy goal as he swept up well behind Beally and Wrenny. Pope was also having an outstanding game as he nullified everything down the left. Banners almost got in down the right again and Morris was still working hard but no clear chances were coming so with 30 minutes left Hammett introduced some fresh legs bringing on Dora and Stratford to try and make an impact.

Kings though were enjoying some possession again although not really going anywhere. Burgess, JJ and Jennings were winning the ball high again but they were just overhitting their through balls as they looked to release Stratford. Jonny did almost open his goalscoring account for the 1st team as he battled hard and then won the ball off the centre back just on the edge of the area, but he didn't quite catch his shot properly and the Kings keeper looked far from convincing as he tipped it round the post. Burgess then curled in the corner, but Beally appeared to be fouled and Kings cleared the ball.

Dora and Pope were working well together on the left and it was on the 72nd minute that they started a move that extended Sandy's lead. Snuffing out an attack the ball was worked into JJ in the middle of the park who cleverly switched the play to the right where Seldon was in absolute acres of space. He moved forwards and slotted the ball down the line to Burgess who sprinted clear, he then delivered a dangerous cross into the box when poacher supreme Mark Jennings had sprinted.... yes sprinted into the near post to throw himself at the ball and direct it into the net with his toe. 2-0 Sandy.

This was just what the visiting side had been looking for and they could relax a little and enjoy the closing stages of the contest. They did come under some pressure from Kings, but the defending was immense as the team headed towards their second clean sheet in a row. Stratford almost created an opportunity to extend the lead as he got free in the box, but despite finding Seldon at the back post the Sandy right back couldn't trouble the keeper with his header and then Jonny's second effort was blocked as he looked to capitalise.  It was to no avail though and Sandy saw out the contest with just one more Pally save from long range as he held the ball well after it came through a crowd of players. Having now only conceeded 1 goal in 270 mins of football, once Sandy had scored it was almost inevitable that they would win and take all three points and manager Ian Hammett wasn't disappointed. The club will now turn their attention to table topping Shillington next week where they will look to buck the trend and take a fourth win in a row. Final score 2-0