Sandy Ladies’ efforts finally got their just desserts as they won their first match of the season - beating Luton Town Hatters 3-1 in the Beds County Cup Second Round.
It was a terrific team performance with many outstandingly brilliant individual contributions as well.
Sandy started with a really strongly wind behind them and made good use of it to put loads of pressure on Luton. The visitors managed a few breaks but didn’t really trouble goalkeeper Amie much at all in the first half thanks to the excellent defence of Pearl, Chloe R, Lucy, Karen and her replacement after just 12 minutes, Chloe B paying her first game in over six months and her first adult match ever.
Katie and Kayleigh worked really hard in midfield supported on the wings by Faye and Claire which allowed Amber and Loren up front to put a huge amount of pressure on the Luton defence.
Sandy took the lead on 26 minutes following two brilliant long throw ins from Reevsey that pushed Luton back towards their goal line which resulted in a terrific shot from Katie. The Luton keeper made a really good save but could only parry the ball and Loren followed in to tuck it away.
Faye was really good down the left hand side repeatedly beating the full back and putting in strong crosses, Katie worked hard in midfield and supported the attack many times.
Pearl had a terrific first half and stopped Luton in their tracks on numerous occasions down their left wing, but also overlapped several times and put in some great crosses. Lucy and Chloe B were great on the left side of defence and the fact they played together at Langford U16 girls last season probably helped. Reevsey was terrific at centre back, a position she hasn’t played for some time but she swept up on both sides of the pitch when required.
The home team continued to press but didn’t convert their chances and so at half time Sandy were only one in front and knew they would be under the cosh with Luton having the strong wind behind them in the second half.
Kirsty came on for Loren at half time and took over at right back, while Pearl moved to right wing and Claire moved up front.
Luton took advantage of the wind from the start of the second half and put Sandy under a lot of pressure which paid off on 58 minutes when they equalised.
Kayleigh was terrific in midfield in the second half, winning the ball, laying it off to the attackers or wingers and she dominated midfield.
A few minutes later a Luton goal was disallowed for a clear offside as the Sandy back line stepped forward and this seemed to upset the visitors who got quite vociferous at times.
On 70 minutes Amber made a strong tackle and whilst on the ground was kicked in the back of the head and had to come off to give her a few minutes to recover. She bravely went back on for Claire, and almost immediately put in a terrific shot from Pearl’s cross to put Sandy back in front on 80 minutes. This was Amber’s first goal of the season which is hard to believe from the effort she puts in every match.
From the kick off there was a goalmouth scramble which ended with goalkeeper Amie on the floor with perhaps four Luton players down as well but she stuck to the ball and eventually the ref blew for a foul which relieved the pressure.
Sandy shot straight back up the pitch and another cross from Pearl, perhaps touched on by Loren who came back on when Amber went off, was met by Katie who tucked it away and seal Sandy’s first win of the season.
Sandy were great through out the match in all departments and this was a very well deserved victory but two players were exceptional, one in each half, and so Pearl and Kayleigh shared player of the match.
Sandy; Amie Fage, Pearl Houghton, Chloe Reeves, Lucy Saunders, Karen Varley (Chloe Barton), Claire Ashwell, Kayleigh Bennett, Katie Seldon, Faye Prout, Amber Williams & Loren Ellard (Kirsty Fylling)
Sandy have two weeks off now, which will hopefully allow a lot of players to recover from various niggles and injuries, to allow them a full squad for their next match on December 6 at home to Toddington Ladies