Article: Jay Rowland
Free-scoring Sandbach United saw a Robbie Hatton-inspired first half blitz carry them to a 5-1 win over St Martins FC.
Manager Andy Hockenhull named an unchanged starting 11 from the opening day 4-2 away win at Cheadle Nomads, and saw an early chance fall to Hatton but he dragged his shot wide. Only moments later, Hatton was brought down by St Martins captain James Durman in the box and the resulting penalty was fired down the middle by Josh Lane.
Lane turned provider for the second goal on 16 minutes when his low cross evaded away goalkeeper Joao Mendes and slotted into an empty net by Hatton. He then doubled his tally nine minutes later with a goal identical to his first, with Lane again assisting with a low cross from the right. Kieran Garner-Knapper then came close after mesmerising fans with his dribbling before he fired a shot against the far post that trickled along the goal line before being frantically cleared.
Goals weren’t the only thing raining in Sandbach as the heavens opened towards the end of the half, but that wouldn’t stop Hatton completing his hat-trick on 36 minutes when he shifted the ball onto his right foot and curled into the far corner from 16 yards, via a deflection. Knapper had a shot then cleared off the line on the stroke of halftime after more good work from Hatton.
The rain kept coming in the second half and so did the chances.
Captain Adam Clayton, marking his 100th appearance for the Ramblers, played a delightful pass through to Hatton who’s shot beat Mendes but cannoned off the post to safety.
Mendes made a string of saves from Knapper and Hatton to keep the score respectable before St Martins scored a consolation on 70 minutes, when Henry Parkinson got the last touch in a goalmouth scramble.
Mendes was in inspired form and denied Knapper several times, but was finally beaten by the pacey Ramblers forward with the last kick of the game after he rounded the keeper and coolly slotted into the net from a tight angle.
Clayton spoke to us after the game and praised the performance, saying “We were solid at the back, set the tempo right from the first whistle and got into good positions. The weather and wet pitch helped the passing game that we love to play, and as a result they just couldn’t handle our attacking movement and that led to those first half goals.”
Sandbach now sit top of the NWCFL First Division South table on goal difference, having scored nine goals in only two matches. They travel to 2nd-placed Vauxhall Motors on Tuesday 13th October for a table-topping clash.