City v Sandbach


City went into this re-arranged game with depleted resources due to an ill-timed stag week-end taking away numerous regular starters, to the extent that only two players who started the last game at Nelson also began here.

The game began with a strong Buckley run virtually from the kick-off and this led to a free-kick that was fired wide. City were hanging on in these early stages as Allcock stumbled on the ball well inside the City box, and Ballantyne did well to save at the feet of Kirby.

Ironically, after all the early Sandbach pressure, City scored with their first foray into opposition territory as a horrible defensive mix-up gifted the ball to Lucock and the City man did well to loft his shot over the stranded Green. Sandbach were soon back on the attack as Pearson’s cross drifted out of play and a 12th minute corner was headed wide by Kirby at the front post. Three minutes later, a cross was touched wide by Allcock with the Sandbach man claiming a corner.

A corner was conceded by Greenslade in the 17th minute but this was headed wide by Pearson. In the 20th minute, the visitors came close as Lane’s header clipped the far post before going out of play. City had struggled to get anywhere near the Sandbach goal until Shiel shot wide after 22 minutes, quickly followed by Lucock firing just a few yards off target. The same City player then saw his shot saved by Green.

In the 31st minute, Lane hit the woodwork for the second time as his shot bounced back off the bar but City’s luck did not hold much longer as Allcock equalised with a shot from the edge of the box that dipped over Ballantyne and into the net. Sandbach were beginning to scent blood as they won another corner, and then took the lead on 35 minutes via a fortuitous deflection. The shot was well-struck by Allcock but deflected horribly off Wood to completely wrong-foot Ballantyne who stood no chance to react.


The visitors began the second half like a house on fire and Kirby should probably have done better with a header placed wide, before Ballantyne claimed a Sandbach corner crossed in from the right. The Sandbach leading scorer, Kirby, was not enjoying his best day as he missed another fine chance in the 49th minute. However, he was being helped out by his colleagues, and Cain added a third on 51 minutes. Barely sixty seconds later, it was 4-1 with a goal from Buckley.

The tie seemed to be slipping away from City and Kirby had another opportunity that he could not take. City made a double change as Fagan and Slack replaced Lucock and Hoolickin. On the hour, Allcock shot over the bar before City’s Douglas tried his luck from distance but was too high. Another Sandbach corner led to nothing before Allcock came very close to a fifth in the 70 minute, with his shot whistling wide of the far post.

A Sandbach corner was headed goalwards by Kirby, with Ballantyne tipping the ball out of play. City’s Wilson then went down in obvious discomfort and had to be helped from the field, with City hindered by the non-arrival of their third substitute, meaning they ended the game with ten men.

Ballantyne had performed well on his return to the side and he made another fine save from substitute Knapper. An 84th-minute shot from Allcock was wide before City’s sub. Fagan saw his shot easily saved by Green. Allcock seemed to be ever-involved as he shot just too high in the 85th minute.
There was a late dramatic twist as a lunging foul from Green saw City awarded a penalty, and Earl calmly lobbed the sprawling Sandbach keeper for his first goal of the season.
It will be tough in the second leg but that late goal might just keep the tie a little bit more interesting.

TEAMS- CITY- Ballantyne, Gallimore, Heath, Wood, Greenslade, Hoolickin, Wilson, Earl, Shiel, Douglas, Lucock SUBS- Fagan, Slack, Holmes

SANDBACH- Green, Pearson, Ledwards, McKay, O’Riordan, Rowntree, Allcock, Buckley, Kirby, Cain, Lane SUBS- Knapper. Moss, Hart, Baker, Newton

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