Saturday February 12th
North West Counties Football League First Division South
Brocton 3 Sandbach United 1
Brocton made one change from the side unluckily beaten by FC Isle of Man last weekend with Alex Curtis replacing Tom Vaughan. Both sides were much changed from those that met on the season’s opening day in Cheshire.
The visitors made a bright start. Liam Fitzpatrick made space on the left and threaded the ball through to Michael Conlon. Brocton keeper Tony Allsopp was quick to react and raced off his line before the Sandbach forward could reach it. In the 7th minute a cross from Callum Chapman was cleared for a corner by Luke Haddaway. Brocton’s first opportunity arrived in the 10th minute. A free-kick from Curtis was partially cleared to Brad Rolston, who ballooned his shot over the bar. A minute later, a cross from Jake Thomas picked out Connor Haddaway in the 6-yard box but he couldn’t control it and the chance went begging. Brocton were in the ascendancy, and they took the lead in the 17th minute. Excellent control from Connor Haddaway, beating defenders left and right before unleashing a shot which flew into the net despite a hand from Eric Merner. Excellent footwork from Thomas sent Curtis clear. The player manager rounded Merner and hit the side netting with his shot. Sandbach gave Brocton a reminder that they were still very much in the game when Fitzpatrick beat Rolston, but his shot ended in a neighbour’s garden. Brocton made it two in the 36th minute. A clever back-heel from Cam Osborne played in Thomas. His shot was brilliantly saved against the post by Merner, but Thomas reacted quicker and fired home the rebound under pressure. Sandbach gave themselves a lifeline in the 40th minute when Brian Barton was allowed a free header in the 6 yard box, and he made no mistake. The visitors were close to levelling just before the half-time break when Barton laid the ball off to Conlon, with Allsopp saving well.
Half-Time: Brocton 2 Sandbach United 1
Brocton took just 15 seconds of the second half to make inroads with Curtis’ cross cut out for a corner. Dan Evans made a fine run down the left hand side, played the ball inside to Reg Smith and his far post cross was headed behind by Sean Sherwood. Smith played a one-two with Connor Haddaway, but his finish was un-Smith like and high over the bar. Smith then had a shot on the turn which was comfortably held by Merner. It was all Brocton and Connor Haddaway should have made it three, clean through on goal, his shot was straight at Merner. Smith’s next attempt was a dipping volley which was just too high. Sandbach responded with a long throw into the Brocton box which fell invitingly for Conlon, but he dragged his shot wide. In the 59th minute, Sandbach thought they had levelled. A cross from substitute George West was met by Conlon whose shot hit the bar, bounced down and was scrambled away. Sandbach thought it had crossed the line, the linesman thought otherwise. With Sandbach still fuming, West placed a free-kick over the bar. Brocton raced down the other end with Curtis rounding Merner and seeing his shot cleared off the line. Brocton continued to create chance and the normally dependable Smith managed to shoot straight at Merner with only the keeper to beat. Pinball in the Sandbach box left the ball at Smith’s feet with his shot deflected for a corner. Sandbach remained a threat and a break by Conlon down the right was wasted with an overhit cross with four teammates waiting for a decent delivery. In the 77th minute, a flick on from Smith sent Curtis clear but yet again, a Brocton shot was directed straight at the keeper. Smith picked up the ball in space down the left and his shot was cleared off the line. The end to end nature of the half continued with Conlon’s cross being well gathered by Allsopp. With five minutes left, Fitzpatrick cut in from the left and his fierce shot cleared the crossbar. Thomas had an opportunity to seal it for Brocton, but his shot too was straight at Merner. Lewis Barker had a half-chance for Sandbach, heading the ball back towards goal but allowing the Brocton defence to clear, when in a decent position. In stoppage time, there were screams for a penalty for Sandbach when West and Rolston clashed in the Brocton box. The points were finally sealed in the third minute of stoppage time. A long ball forward was nodded on by Smith into the path of Christian Blanchette. Blanchette showed composure as his delicate chip over Merner was going nowhere other than into the net to seal a well-deserved three points.
Full-Time: Brocton 3 Sandbach United 1 Attendance:101
Brocton: Tony Allsopp, Brad Rolston, Dan Evans, Luke Haddaway, Kenny Devoir, Ben Haddaway, Alex Curtis (Christian Blanchette 80), Jake Thomas, Reg Smith, Connor Haddaway, Cam Osborne (Adam Weldon 88). Subs (Not Used): Jack Bostock, Jake Triggs
Sandbach United: Eric Merner, Rory Roberts, Jack Marrow, Sean Sherwood, Stanley Tatters, Lewis Barker, Callum Chapman, Jack Hart (Jimmy Burling 78), Brian Barton (George West 53), Michael Conlon, Liam Fitzpatrick. Subs (Not Used): William Webb, Jamie Mellor, Joel Dovey
Yellow Cards: Smith (Brocton); Tatters, Conlon (Sandbach)