Saturday 22nd April
North West Counties Football League First Division South Play-Off Semi Final
Sandbach United 3 Brocton 1
Brocton welcomed back Jack Bostock from International duty and he slotted into left back. Jonty Kearns took over in goal from the suspended Tony Allsopp. Sandbach came into the play-offs as the form side of the four contesting the final promotion spot.
In the early stages both sides tested each other out without making any impression on goal. The first attempt of the game fell to Brocton in the 14th minute when Connor Haddaway forced a save from Eric Merner in the Sandbach goal. Brocton wen close to taking the lead a minute later. Morgan Payne rounded Merner, cut back onto his right foot and his goal bound effort was cleared off the line by Rory Roberts. Connor Haddaway skied the rebound over the bar under pressure from the home defence. Sandbach first real foray forward saw Adam Weldon head a free kick from Niall Cope behind for a corner. The home side took the lead in the 18th minute. A low corner from Cope picked out substitute George West and his first time shot went through the mass of legs in the penalty area and into the net. The game continued to be well contested in the middle of the park. In the 34th minute, Sandbach almost made it two. A cross from Harry Cain was headed goalwards by Kieran Alley, the ball rebounding off Kearns’ cross bar. Brocton responded with a shot from Christian Blanchette which was straight at Merner. Blanchette then had an attempt over the bar from a tight angle. Brocton had appeals for a penalty waved away as Payne was challenged in the area. In stoppage time, a free kick from Reg Smith was smothered by Merner.
Half-Time: Sandbach United 1 Brocton 0
Brocton started the second half brightly. A cross from Connor Haddaway was flicked goalwards by Payne and Merner stuck out a leg to turn it past the post. Sandbach wasted a glorious chance in the 49th minute. A cross from Cain picked out the unmarked Stanley Tatters in front of goal but he inexplicably put it wide. Liam Fitzpatrick found space down the Sandbach left but his cross was headed clear by Brocton skipper Kenny Devoir. Brocton equalised in the 56th minute. A ball over the top picked out Smith who controlled the ball and lobbed Merner in the same movement – a high quality goal from Brocton’s leading scorer. Alley found space on the right but was wayward with his effort. Brocton were looking the most likely at this stage and when Payne won a header, Smith’s shot was blocked by the resolute home defence. In the 65th minute, Smith got the wrong side of his defender, but Merner was again on hand to make the save. In the 71st minute, Blanchette shrugged off Fitzpatrick, clipped the ball goalwards but it drifted wide of the target. Sandbach took the lead in the 72nd minute. Alley burst through and forced an excellent save from Kearns. From the resulting corner, Cope headed it back into the area and Fitzpatrick was on hand to head the ball home. Brocton came close to an equaliser in the 78th minute. Payne, who had been a threat all afternoon, picked his spot but Merner made an excellent save. With time running out, Sandbach executed the coup de grace with a third goal. A shot from Alley was well saved by Kearns, the ball came back to Cain, and he hammered the ball into the net. Try as they might, Brocton couldn’t break through the Sandbach defence, and the home side clinched their place in the play -off final where they will meet Cheadle Town at Hind Heath Road. The players and fans joined together at the end of the game to celebrate a succesful season.
Full-Time: Sandbach United 3 Brocton 1 Attendance:626 (a club record)
Sandbach United: Eric Merner, Callum Chapman, Liam Fitzpatrick, Louis Johnson, Rory Roberts, Niall Cope (William Booth 90), Kieran Alley (Brian Barton 90+2), Stanley Tatters, Joshua Klein-Davies (George West 9), Robbie Hatton (Jordan Stafford 90+6), Harry Cain. Sub (Not Used): Kieran O’Connell
Brocton: Jonty Kearns, Adam Weldon, Jack Bostock, Kenny Devoir (Will Finlay 90), Tom Vaughan, Will Whieldon, Christian Blanchette (Alex Curtis 80), Charlie King (Jake Thomas 65), Reg Smith, Connor Haddaway, Morgan Payne. Subs (Not Used): Luke Haddaway, Jake Triggs
Yellow Cards: Hatton (Sandbach), King (Brocton)