Match Report

Leighton United

05 Dec 2009   2.00PM   Division 1

Leighton United 5-2 Sandy 1st Team

Sandy failed to break their losing streak once again with a performance that once again promised much but delivered little. Travelling to Leighton United who started the day second in the table didn't provide Sandy with much hope of a win, but a strong first half performance almost caused an upset. Sandy had several players missing as both Manager Daniel Bailey, and Shane Pope were missing due to illness and Charlie Seward was away. This meant a big reshuffle as Mark Jennings moved into centre back with Andrew Wren shifting to the left back role. Martin Cull also made his first team debut as he was called up from the reserves.

The middle of the Stanbridge road pitch was anything but condusive to good flowing football as the heavy rain had made it boggy in the middle. Leighton United made the best of the early exchanges as they managed to spread the ball wide regularly and their two tricky wingers were giving Richard Seldon and Andrew Wren a torrid time. Sandy struggled to settle and were under the cosh early, strong defending though from Phil Beall and Mark Jennings ensured that they were kept at bay. Leighton did have an early goal disallowed for offside, but other than that Sandy dealt well with the wave of attacks. 

As has become typical of Sandy a piece of bad luck put Leighton United ahead after 20 minutes. A diagonal through ball was played to the Leighton Striker who was flagged offside, however the referee for some inexplicable reason decided to play on and ignore Linesman Colin Osborne. One on one with Mark Pallister in the Sandy goal, the striker shot straight at Pallister who stood up well to save, only to see the striker tap home at the second attempt. Sandy managed to keep their heads up and 10 minutes later they were back in the game. A lovely through ball from Chris Baines was misread by the Leighton defence and Ian Hammett latched onto the miskick from the central defender. One on one with the keeper, he should have scored but the keeper stayed big and saved well low to his right, as he deflected the ball wide. From the resulting corner though Phil Beall scored his first goal of the season as Sam James floated a lovely ball in for Beall to rise high above the defence and head home.

Leighton restored their lead almost immediatley though as good play down their right flank created a tap in for their centre forward. This seemed to stun Sandy and Leighton made it three on 40 minutes when excellent play down their left flank carved the Sandy defence open to create another square ball tap in. Frustratingly for Sandy they had begun to settle and didn't really deserve to be three one down. Sandy however did manage to pull a goal back on 43 minutes, when Andrew Wren lofted a high ball into the box. Brad Smith jumped with two defenders who all missed the ball and it fell kindly to Ian Hammett. Hammett's shot went straight at the keeper, but he could only palm it into the air. The ball then looped over him and despite his best efforts to recover the ball crossed the line before he could clear it. Half time 3 - 2.

Sandy started the second half positively as they tried to find an equaliser. They managed to impose themselves on the game but unfortunatley missed opportunities cost them dearly as well as a dodgy referring decision. Martin Cull created an opportunity for Brad Smith in the box, but his first touch let him down and he failed to connect well with his shot. Ian Hammett then had a half chance on the turn, but he scuffed his left foot shot. Sandy's best opportunity should have come from a penalty but the referee failed to spot a more obvious handball than Thierry Henry's against the Rep of Ireland by the Leighton United centre back as Brad Smith tried to square the ball to Hammett and James who were waiting in the box.

Phil Beall was having an outstanding game at centre back, and for the first 15 minutes of the second half he cleared everything and won every ball. Mark Jennings was also having a strong game in his new role, and Sandy managed to harry and hustle Leighton off the ball. However it was Leighton who scored again as they broke down the left again and their centre midfielder headed home well from the cross past a stranded Mark Pallister.

Other than this Leighton failed to trouble Pallister in the Sandy goal, but they failed to create any further chances. Sam James was starting to some more into the game, and he made several probing runs down the left. One ended in a square ball that just failed to reach Ian Hammett in the box allowing a defender to get in a clear away.

Then to rub salt into Sandy's wounds, in the last few minutes Leighton made it five when Mark Pallister made an outstanding save to deny Leighton's left winger, but the ball fell kindly to their forward who once again tapped home. Once again it proved to be a disappointing afternoon for Sandy FC as they once again failed to capitalise on a performance that may well on another day have brought them some reward. Final score 5 - 2.