Scorers: J. O’BRIEN 2, C. O’BRIEN 1, SIMMS 1
Today we head down the M6 to the great facilities at Sandbach United. The Maine Road youngsters should be full of confidence following recent back to back victories although the two weeks break through postponements might have an effect.
Sandbach United kick off but its Maine Road who have started the brighter of the teams although the ball is in the air to much as we cant seem to get it down and string a few passes together but could have taken the lead on 5mins as a Jack Blundell header across the box is headed just wide by Ryan Smith, then disaster at the other end as the long goal kick wide sees the Sandbach player put a nothing ball into the box and a mix up at the back as the ball hits the ground and an unbelievable bounce sees the ball loop high over keeper Jake Howarth and into the back of the net (1-0). This kick started Sandbach and they took control of the game and came close to doubling the lead on 10mins as another long kick from the keeper finds the left winger unmarked on his own and a cut inside drives towards the edge of the box before shooting just wide. Maine Road are their own worst enemies now constantly making mistakes on the ball as we either get caught in possession, pass to the opposition or put the ball out of play and we can’t get out of our own half. Sandbach are winning the first and second ball all over the pitch and a good ball splits Tom Markham and Ryan Smith for the No.9 who crosses to the far post for the No.8 whose shot is denied by a great block from keeper Jake Howarth and a let off for Maine Road. We wait until 21mins for our first decent attack as Jack Ryan shows good skill to round the defender and a run down the line is finished off with a good cross is met by Owen Pollitt who hits the post but finally a spark from the blues. The game is a scrappy affair as Sandbach are out to spoil the play and doing a good job of it but we hang in there and battle hard to stay in the game and our best passage of play on 30mins sees Jack Ryan again pulls the strings and finds Finn Thompson who picks out Owen Pollitt wide right and a good first time cross is met on the run by Joe OBrien but the header is straight at the keeper. Then we get our reward on 35mins for playing through a bad start and being persistent as Jack Blundell towers above the Sandbach player and wins a strong header picked up by Jack Ryan and wonderful skill to beat his marker before slotting Joe OBrien in behind the defence and a first-time finish across the keeper into the far corner for a hard earnt equaliser (1-1). 36mins the No.3 picks up a yellow card for persistent fouls and the resulting Owen Pollitt free kick is met well by Ryan Smith as the header goes agonisingly wide. Then on 40mins the Sandbach No.11 falls awkwardly and the game has to be stopped as it looks like a dislocated shoulder and he is clearly in a lot of pain and discomfort and we wait for the ambulance. The referee makes a sensible decision and calls it half time and we will play 40mis for the 2nd half if the ambulance arrives early enough for us to get the 2nd half in before the light goes.
Not a good first 20mins at all, we looked nervous and uncomfortable on the ball, Sandbach harassed us in possession and forced us into mistakes but after 25mins we played some decent football from the half way line forwards but getting to the half way was our problem. Fortunately, the ambulance came quickly, and we were able to get the 2nd half underway.
Before we restart we make a change as Jake Hurst is replaced by Joe Simms and he has an instant impact on the game as he splits the defence on 42mins to feed Christy OBrien, one on one with the keeper and a good finish into the far corner gives the youngsters the lead (1-2). Maine Road are now just about on top of the game and starting to look more relaxed but get caught out on the counter attack on 47mins as a long diagonal ball from the right back goes over the back four as the No.10 gets on the end of it and drives towards goal finishing well past keeper Jake Howarth (2-2). From this point on it was predominantly Maine Road who took the game to the opposition and played in their half with some good possession and Ryan Smith goes close again from a Joe Simms corner on 52mins. 62mins its Joe Simms again who has had a great impact on the game since coming on as he finds Christy OBrien who holds the ball up well on the edge of the box to wait for the run of brother Joe OBrien, but he just can’t get to the ball across the box. 63mins Owen Pollitt splits the defence for another good run from Christy OBrien who draws a very good save from the keeper to deny Maine Road a deserved lead. 68mins and the persistent pressure finally pays off as we win the ball in the middle and Jack Ryan comes away with the ball before picking out Joe OBrien out wide as he gets to the bye line before putting a good ball across the 6-yard box for Joe Simms to finish well past the outstretched keeper (2-3). 72mins Tom Markham is replaced by the returning Jake Hurst. With 5mins to go on 75mins Maine Road put the game to bed with a goal of the highest quality as Owen Pollitt whips a cross into the box and a scissor kick volley is smashed into the back of the net by Joe OBrien for his second of the day. However, the last attempt goes to Sandbach as the keeper comes up for a corner, but the header just goes wide.
Firstly, it’s always unpleasant to see any player pick up a serious injury and the club wish him a speedy recovery. Secondly a much improved 2nd half as we applied the pressure and took the game to Sandbach and over the 80mins were the better team and deserving of the points but we were a long way off our normal standards but sometimes you have to be persistent and fight for everything and even though much of the pressure was caused by ourselves we fought it out and came away with the win where earlier in the season we would have folded and been bullied out of the game so from that perspective we have to be pleased
Team: HOWARTH; MARKHAM; SMITH; J.THOMPSON; HURST; BLUNDELL; POLLITT; F.THOMPSON; RYAN; J.O’BRIEN; C.O’BRIEN Subs: SIMMS