Article: Jay Rowland
Josh Lane scored his third goal in four games as Sandbach United beat a spirited Abbey Hey FC 1-0.
A cold, windy Tuesday night in Cheshire provided the setting for a Sandbach side looking to return to winning ways after throwing away a two-goal lead late on against West Didsbury & Chorlton on Saturday. Andy Hockenhull started veteran striker Steve Jones ahead of Josh Lane, while centre-half Kieran O’Connell returned from injury to be named among the substitutes. For the visitors, top scorer Deane Smalley was unavailable and replaced by Ryan Waterhouse.
Abbey Hey started the brighter of the two sides and fired a low shot off the post after two minutes. Ramblers goalkeeper Danny Hamlett then made his first save of the match a few minutes later, diving to his left to hold onto a low Dylan Norris shot.
Hamlett was by far the busier of the two keepers in the opening 45 minutes, saving well from Ryan Waterhouse before producing a top-class save by tipping over a vicious strike from Jordan Lazenbury. Scott Evans then was the recipient of a very nasty challenge on the stroke of halftime but was able to continue playing before the half came to a close.
The hosts started the second half much brighter than the first and McDonnell had his head in his hands on the hour mark. Heywood palmed a Josh Lane shot right into McDonnell’s path, but his first-time shot was cleared off the line by defender Aaron Fleming. Lane was involved again on 74 minutes when he drove into the 18-yard box and was wrestled to the ground, but the referee instead ruled for an Abbey free kick.
Sandbach took the lead from the penalty spot in added time following a bizarre incident in the Abbey Hey box. Tom Wakefield slid into the box to challenge Heywood for a low cross. After both players got up, Heywood committed an act of violent conduct that left Wakefield on the floor clutching his face in some pain, and a small melee ensued among both home and away players. After breaking up several altercations, and consulting with the assistant referee, Heywood was shown a straight red card and a penalty was awarded to Sandbach. Lane then sent stand-in goalkeeper Norris the wrong way from 12 yards to put the hosts ahead.
Abbey Hey had a final chance through George West but his shot was well wide of the target, and the Ramblers held on to claim all three points ahead of their trip to Cammell Laird 1907 on Tuesday 27th October, due to the Saturday fixture against Wythenshawe Amateurs postponed for COVID-19 reasons.