Sandbach United 5 Wirral SB 0
5 Star Sandbach run riot in penultimate friendly
Sandbach’s penultimate pre-season game saw them face Wirral SB at Hind Heath Road.
It was two of Sandbach’s new signings who linked up to produce the first goal after just 17 minutes of the game. It was good football down the left by Mike Blundell and Billy Buckley, this then allowed Buckley to drive towards the box and play a good one-two with Blundell before striking a shot with his left foot across the goal and into the bottom left corner of the goal.
With only five of the starting Sandbach eleven having been in the squad last season it was a chance for the new signings to show what they’re about and hopefully cement a place in Hockenhulls starting eleven for the trip to Oswestry on the 4th August.
Sandbach came close to scoring their second on the 24th minute mark when a deep cross from the right by the returning Kieran Knapper found the ever-reliable Josh Lane who headed wide of the left post from just six yards out. However, two minutes later their lead was doubled when long kick from Moss was flicked on by Knapper down the right-hand side allowing Lane to beat the defender to the ball and then send in a low cross for Blundell who easily tapped home from around 5 yards out.
Sandbach looked good offensively, every time they went forward they looked a real threat. They scored again on 33 minutes when a quick free kick in the centre circle allowed Steve McNicol to switch the play to the right to Knapper who used his blistering pace to get to the by line and then cross for Kirby who made a run towards the near post, Kirby then poked home to get his first of the game and United’s third.
Sandbach looked to experiment from set pieces and four minutes later another quick set piece lead to another goal. Buckley played it short from the left to Lane who went down just inside the box under a tackle from the Wirral defender. The referee hesitated before blowing the whistle and pointing to the spot. Last years top goal scorer James Kirby stepped up and side footed the ball into the bottom right corner, the keeper got a hand to it but couldn’t prevent the ball from going into the net and making the scores 4-0 to Sandbach.
On the stroke of half time Sandbach added a fifth when Blundell found Kirby on the edge of the box and with his back to goal, Kirby shrugged off the defender before unleashing a shot that was well saved by the keeper, although the clearance fell to the impressive Knapper who cut into the box from the right and unleashed a shot that squeezed under the keeper and crept into the bottom left corner of the goal.
At half time the score was 5-0 however these pre-season games are all about fitness so the score is irrelevant. At the half time break Hockenhull made three subs as he tried to give everyone equal minutes to show what they can do and impress the management staff.
With 25 minutes of the game left it was the Blundell, Kirby partnership that almost bagged Sandbach a sixth goal. Blundell had the ball in the centre of the field and there didn’t look to be many options for him to pass to, then out of now where he played the ball to his right, in behind the defence which allows Kirby to get in behind and then take it around the keeper. However, in unkirby like fashion he sliced his shot wide of the open goal.
The best move of the game involved three of Hockenhulls substitutes, good work from Conner Doherty meant that he nutmegged the Wirral striker and then played the ball down the right for Matty Pearson who did very well to reach it, once Pearson had got to the ball he swung in a first time cross that was perfect for Aidan Haughton who headed the ball over the bar.
Despite scoring all five goals in the first half it was a good second half display from United, the substitutes all looked to want to prove a point in order to get a place in the team and hopefully be part of Hockenhull’s plans for next season.
Sandbach start the season with an away fixture at FC Oswestry Town on Saturday 4th August, with their first home fixture taking place on Tuesday 7th at 7:45pm against newly promoted Cheadle Heath Nomads.
The following Saturday (11th August) Sandbach travel to play Parkgate FC in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup. This is a big day in Sandbach Uniteds history as it is the first time they have qualified for the FA Cup, coach tickets are available from the club bar for £10.
Match report: Jack Beresford
Photos: John Clayton