Match Report

Luton Boys

16 Mar 2013   2.30PM   Division 1

Luton Boys 1-2 Sandy 1st Team

Sandy travelled with a bare 11 down to Luton to see if they could end their recent run of 4 defeats. Ryan Gregory, Lucas Craig and JJ were working, James Hearson doesn't do away games and Dale Wiston and Oli Banfield were both away for the weekend. After last weeks injury to Seldon, Pally called up the obvious choice from the reserves, Pete Rogan at right back and another of Pallys new signings, Sam 'Target Man' Worthington started upfront.

It was never going to be an easy game on the pitch on Dunstable Road as it was wet, slippery and it had a lovely slant which definately gave the game a different angle. The game kicked off and Sandy tried to play the ball around but were again finding it hard to play any slick passing moves as they struggled to cope with the environment. Luton tried to attack Sandy but the defence held firm and were defending their area well, heading away lofted balls into the box and generally defending the flanks well. Sandys problem though was getting the ball out of their half as they weren't getting to second balls and when the ball did reach the forward line it was never held up well enough to relieve any of the pressure on the team. Burgess was getting a little bit of space down his side and there were a couple of balls played through to him but he just couldn't get there before the Luton full back and the move never materialised into anything. The next piece of action came as Luton caught Sandy napping, Sandy had possession and Shane was trying to provide a wide option for Baker but Luton managed to nick the ball away. Realising that the Sandy defensive line was quite high they punished Shane being out of position with a nice long through ball down their right to their right winger, he brought the ball down nicely and in similar fashion to last week he found Pally off his line and tried to lob him, thankfully though for Sandy his finish wasn't quite as good and it just drifted wide of the post.

Sandys best moves continued to come down the right wing, as any that did go down the left seemed to drift off the pitch because of the slope. Instead Baker drifted from his left wing position and had picked up the ball on the right hand side. He played a short pass to Jennings, who held the ball up nicely on the touchline, whilst he held the ball up Craig had made a good run up the line and Mark played a lovely through ball and now Craig could run at his defender, however Bakers cross was blocked and Sandy had their first corner of the game. Nathan grabbed the ball and ran for the corner flag, and delivered a wonderful ball to the near post in Hammett'esque fashion, and Beally was there to powerfully guide to ball into the roof of the net at the near post to take him to the top of the goalscoring charts. Immediately the Sandy players knew that this didn't change anything as there was still a long way to go and they weren't exactly dominating the game. So calls to focus on the game as if it were 0-0 were made. Luton now searching to get back into the game started to break the Sandy defence down a little, the main instigator was the tall Luton central midfielder who was making driving runs towards to Sandy defence and commiting players, this stretched Sandy and although they were still keeping the box relatively clear, Luton were putting on more pressure outside of it, with crosses from wide and a couple of long range efforts which were either in blocked or deflected which resulted in Luton having a succession of corners. Beally knew that the Luton left back was the dangerman from set pieces, since he had scored a couple against Sandy over the last couple of seasons, and even Beally struggled at first to contain him as he headed their first corner narrowly over the bar. The next couple of corners fell to their tall central midfielders feet but he fluffed his first chance and the second was blocked by Baker and Pally easily collected.

Lutons best chance to equalise was the first through ball that had managed to get through the Sandy defence and into their area. The striker found himself one on one just on the right hand corner of the 6 yard box and he looked certain to test Pally but Beall managed to get accross and block with his telescopic right leg out for another corner. The next chance came for Luton as Sandy were on the attack and were looking to finally exert some pressure on Luton as they had temporarily pinned them into their own box, Luton cleared the ball towards Beally on the half way line, who was looking to play the ball back out to Burgess who was in space, however, the ball slipped under his foot as he went to control it and this allowed Luton off the hook, the number 9 picked the ball up and ran at Wrenny, Wrenny did well to hold him up and by the time the number 9 played the ball wide to his right winger, Beall managed to come across and clear for yet another Luton corner. Sandy were desperately trying to hold on to the 1-0 lead and make it to half time. The last noteable piece of action of the first half came from a Luton throw in, the ball was launched into the box but was headed clear but only back to the throw in taker, Shane made a desperate sliding challenge on the touchline but the player managed to dodge his challenge, get to the byline and picked out his number 9 perfectly, who for the second time had got himself some space, he took one touch then shot towards the bottom corner but Pally was there to save, even managing to hold onto it. Luton exerted a litte more pressure from corners and throw ins but Sandy did hold out for half time with the scores at 1-0.

Having made it to half time Sandy felt optimistic as the opposite side of the pitch was in much better condition, perhaps due to the fact that most of the first half was spent in Sandys half. The game began in better circumstances for Sandy as they managed to have a couple of better passing moves and seemed to be getting a little more space, especially through Baker and Burgess on the flanks. Nathan was working hard up top to pressurise and also get on the ball to try create something for Sandy. Sam was also looking to get some flick ons for Nathan and to also try and hold the ball up, however it wasn't always an easy task on the slippery surface but he did draw a few fouls here and here. Nothing of note was really created within the first 10 minutes, but slowly Luton started to apply pressure on Sandy once more, and Sandy this half were able to counter attack more effectively when the ball did break down. Beally began to get oppotunities to drive forward with the ball from the result of stealing the ball from the Luton forwards feet, his first lay off to Sam was intercepted and this gave Luton a chance which they failed to take as Colin flagged for offside. Luton then made a change by bringing on fresh legs at centre back and left wing which then started to cause Sandy some issues down their right hand side, however Burgess and Rogan were combining well to defend that flank although this did earn Luton another succession of corners. Sandy though were defending every set piece heroicly with blocks and interceptions flying in from Jennings and co, the best one was a lunging block at the near post from Jennings to save a certain goal. Again it was backs to the wall for Sandy as the pressure increased down Sandys right, with more throw ins than you could shake a stick at, with the ball yoyo-ing from the throw in takers hand to multiple Sandy headed clearances. 

The referee began to make some very strange decisions against Sandy and seemed reluctant to give anything as Burgess had his shirt pulled off his back, Nathan and Craig Baker were getting barged from behind all over the place and having their heels snapped at but the ref ignored the complaints, only to then give a very harsh handball through a crowd of players against Shane as the ball bobbled behind and underneath him, catching the ends of his fingertips completely unintentionally. Four Luton players surrounded the ball and then one of them whizzed a shot narrowly over the bar which Pally then had to go and fetch, and for his efforts he got told to "hurry up" by the mouthiest 8 year old spectator anyone had ever seen, no manager deserves this treatment. Then came a very big test of Sandys resolve to overturn their recent run of defeats as Luton finally broke through and equalised with a powerful shot just inside the post givin Pally no chance. Still traumatised by the 8 year old, Pally took the goal kick, it was won by the Luton central midfielder and played in behind Shane and Wrenny, both failed to beat the right winger to the ball and he played a weak cross to the edge of the area which Jennings agonisingly missed as it brushed his stud, Beally tried to close down the striker but despite getting a small nick on the ball he couldn't guide it away from the goal. 1-1.

The game was then sent into chaos as Beally inadvertently started a session of showboating from Sandy. Luton attempted a lobbed through ball (L1 + Triangle) and Beally, despite slipping, pulled off perhaps the best touch the world has ever seen, so much so that a new button combination might have to be created on Fifa 14. As he slipped, he knew he had to get something on the ball, and with time running out the only option was to bring it down with his lip/head, everyone stood in awe as the ball stopped dead on the ground, Beally then even managed to get up and go on a little run before laying it off to Baker. Inspired, Nathan attempted to do a turning reverse flick of the ball over the last defenders head after another lobbed through ball (Left bumper + Y) but failed to make contact and this was a missed opportunity as this could of allowed a one on one with the highly untested keeper.

The game started to become more and more open and chances were now being created from both sides, again it was Lutons central midfielder that was driving at the Sandy defence and this opened up some attacking moves down their left wing that initially caused Sandy problems as with the first couple of attempts they were getting around Pete Rogan which were followed by some wildly wide shots and also one very dangerous cross however Beally managed to intercept and pump it clear down the right. Beally made his third break of the game as he drive forward to the half way line, he spotted Baker had drifted off of his full back and he played a nice curling through ball with his left foot which Baker ran onto, instead of putting in a cross he cut back and ran round the edge of the area looking for a gap to open so he could have a shot, Sandy perhaps should have had a free kick as again the Luton defender must of caught Craigs heel about 3 or 4 times but again the ref ignored the calls, and Baker lost the ball with a misplaced pass. It really was end to end now, with Sandy beginning to even win some throw ins and free kicks themselves. Sam was fouled on the edge of the area and Nathan confidently stepped up for the free kick and whipped a lovely shot over the wall and to the near post, but surprisingly the keeper managed to get accross and unorthodoxly palm it away for a corner. Although Luton were having the lions share of possession and chances, when Sandy did manage to attack them they never looked quite as organised as the Sandy defence. Sandy then managed to get their second chance of the game by capitalising on the Luton team not concentrating as they were instead arguing with the referee. Burgess had been played in down the right, the substitute centre back covered this though and cleared the ball out for a throw in next to the corner flag, however Burgess had in fact caught the centre back after the ball had gone out. Whilst Luton were protesting for a free kick, Burgess took the throw in to Gilly who had drifted out wide so that he could use his creative talents to whip in a delightful cross which was met at the near post by Sam, who lived up to his status as a target man and he placed the header just under the bar, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance. Luton were reeling that they had taken their eye off the ball and the result was now slipping away from them as Sandy once again had something to defend, and defend they did.

There were 2 chances left in the game, the first which was from another Sandy goalkick, in which Luton had won the arial duel, the number 9 had dropped deep to collect, turned and played the ball in behind Shane once more but this time luckily for Sandy they were unable to finish the move off with a goal. This though made Sandy realise that the gap between the defence and the midfield was too big and that they couldn't afford to let this happen again, so they shuffled closer together and this resulted in Luton not getting any further chances. With 5 minutes to go, Sandy played their best move of the game, Baker picked up the ball on the left and again Burgess was in acres of space and was played through on the edge of the Luton area, however instead of taking a touch or having a shot, he cleverly picked out Sam at the opposite edge of the area with a lovely first time pass, Sam also tried to shoot first time and perhaps would have been more successfuly had he taken a touch as he curled it just over the bar. However Sandy didn't need the goal in the end as they saw out the rest of the game to take an important victory. A lot of hard work went in from all of the team to come through with a win.

Final score 2-1. All will be positive that with the same hard work and team spirit, and with the number of players available looking likely that they will increase again over the next few weeks, that Sandy can use this win as momentum to finish the season strongly, with 5 wins out of the next 5 games not an impossible task considering the opposition.