Match Report

Lea Sports PSG

03 Mar 2012   2.30PM   Division One

Sandy 1st Team 1-2 Lea Sports PSG

Sandy were paid a visit by the perrenial draw specialists Lea Sports PSG who were looking to extend their unbeaten run to ten games. Sandy on the other hand were looking to return to winning ways after four games without tasting victory.

Manager Ian Hammett was again forced into some changes in the squad, with JJ absent because of work and Baker picking up a knee injury during the week. Shane Pope returned to the squad as did Mat Evans and Rob Tapley who all missed the draw against Lidlington. Pope was handed his left back slot as JJ was missing, but other than that Hammett opted to start with the same ten players that played well last week.

Sandy knew that their opponents were going to prove to be dangerous opposition and they had been urged to start quickly and pressure the visitors. However the opening exchanges were scrappy from both sides as each team tried to establish themselves and play some football. Sandy were struggling to make the ball stick up front, missing out the midfield on several occassions they were drawn into Lea Sports long ball game. Hence Sandy Chairman Colin Osborne was having a busy afternoon as the linesman, because the Lea Sports strikers were regularly caught offside and it wouldn't be a surprise if Ozzy needed to ice his shoulder after all that exercise. Sandy's back four were holding a good line though and Morgan and Beally were winning most things in the air. Seldon and Pope were once again solid down the flanks with Hammett and Banfield working hard in front of them.

Goalmouth action was rare in the first twenty minutes until there was a flurry at the Lea Sports end. Hammett found Staf with a throw in and Staf did his defender all ends up before being brought down for a penalty. Sandy's top scorer stepped up confidently to take the kick, until the ref decided it would be a good idea to blow the whistle half way through his run up. Staf stuttered and then didn't connect the best, and the keeper saved with his legs. The rebound went straight up into the air and Hammett reacted quickest to get in front of the defenders. Before he could reach the ball though he was brought down for the second spot kick in a minute. This time Hammett decided to take the spot kick himself, but failed to hit the target as he put the ball past the post, leaving Lea Sports to celebrate remarkably keeping their clean sheet in tact. These two misses by Sandy's regular marksmen really summed up how the afternoon was going to go.

Sandy then suffered a further blow as they lost Mark Jennings to injury after he had jarred his ankle in a tackle and he was replaced by Rob Tapley in the centre of Sandy's midfield. Richard Seldon then picked up a booking for a cynical challenge on the halfway line that turfed the left winger up into the air, however he protests that it wasn't a booking.... nobody agrees with him.

The visiting side bouyed by the two misses pressed forwards and a couple of times actually managed to break the offside trap and get in on goal, however a couple of awful misses at the back post from a combined total of about four yards also meant that Sandy's goal remained in tact. Pally once again actually had very little to do in terms of saves. The home side were also struggling to trouble the Lea Sports stopper as many of their through balls to Staf were overhit or easily mopped up by the back four. Sandy did play the occassional nice passage of football that has been present most of the season but they didn't do it regularly enough and the half closed with the scores all level. 0-0

Sandy knew that this game was on a knife edge and they came out into the second half determined to put an average first half behind them. Seward was replaced early in half by Matt Evans as he took a knock to his knee and Hammett moved back to his usual place alongside Staf. Evans looked dangerous straight away but against the run of play Lea Sports had some luck and took the lead. A corner was delivered in and flicked on, finding a player at the back post unmarked. He brought the ball down and then curled a cross back into the box, however he mishit it and it curled over Shane Pope's head and into the top corner. Again this summed up the afternoon for the home side.

Sandy responded though and tried to press forwards. Hammett and staf were looking mobile up front and Tapley and Nicholls were starting to get more on the ball. Banfield was once again running his legs off down the flank. Sandy's best chance came from a corner though as Hammett cureld it into the back post. Staf headed the ball back into the danger area and Beally stole in front of the keeper but from a yard out he lifted the ball over the sprawling stopper and also agonisingly over the bar. Staf and Hammett then combined to create a half chance as Staf found Hammett out right, his stike partner then cut the ball back to him, but Staf couldn't connect with the shot cleanly under pressure.

Finally Sandy's persistance told and they drew level. Shane Pope and Banfield combined on the left wing and Banners drilled a diagonal ball across the pitch and into the box. It totally caught the visiting back four out and Matt Evans snuck round the back unchallenged. He played the ball back across into the danger area and Staf stabbed the ball home to give the home side the goal they had been looking for.

Sandy were now starting to push for a winner, and were pinning Lea Sports back into their own half. They just couldn't seem to get the break of the ball though and the visiting side were cutting things out at the last minute. Nathan replaced Hammett with 15 minutes to go and worked hard. He found himself in the box a couple of times, but the first time he was crowded out before he could shoot and the second time he couldn't find Tappers with his pass and the attack broke down. Staf did finally get free down the right side of the defence but his powerful shot on the turn was straight at the keeper.

Matt Evans was causing problems down the right flank and his winding runs were looking threatening. He created a great opportunity as he reached the byline, but with 'Yossi' Morris square and Staf on the spot he chose Staf but the pass was cut out. Yossi was trying his best to run the channels and he picked up a freekick just inside the byline in a dangerous position. Tapley curled the freekick in towards the back post and Beally rose the highest in a crowd of players, unfortunately though he managed to head the ball against his shoulder and the ball sailed over the bar from three yards out. Sandy just couldn't find the breakthrough they needed and they were punished as the clock ran down.

Lea Sports counter attacked and broke forwards. Sandy had good numbers back though and defended the intial cross well. Shane Pope cleared the ball, but nobody reacted and it fell straight to the visiting forward. He took one touch and then fired the ball past Pally and into the bottom corner of the net. Sandy were shell shocked and Staf tried to work some magic from the kick off as he tried to dribble through the team like Meppershall last season, but he was closed down quickly. There were seconds left and Sandy couldn't get the ball forward quick enough and the ref agonisingly blew his whistle. It was another disappointing afternoon for Sandy, who have now failed to win in their last five games. Manager Ian Hammett will have to do some serious thinking and draw up a plan to stop this slide in form and he will be hoping his team respond when they travel to Henlow next week for an important Quarter Final tie. Final score 1-2.