Saturday March 11th
North West Counties Football League First Division South
Sandbach United 1 Brocton 0
Brocton welcomed back Adam Weldon and Jake Triggs into the starting line-up as they faced play off rivals Sandbach United. Sandbach began the game six points behind Brocton having played two games more.
It was Brocton that started off on the front foot. In the 2nd minute Morgan Payne rounded Sandbach keeper Eric Merner only to see his cross cut out. A minute later, Brocton went close to an opener. Christian Blanchette was picked out in space. His shot fell to the feet of Reg Smith who forced a good save from Merner. Sandbach struggled to clear their lines and a Connor Haddaway cross was volleyed wide by Smith, acrobatically trying to get the ball on target. Brocton were awarded a free-kick some 25 yards out after a foul on Smith. Brocton’s leading scorer hit the free kick perfectly, but Merner made a fine save, tipping the ball over the bar. Sandbach first attack of any note came in the 9th minute when Tony Allsopp had to rush off his line to clear from Kieran Alley. In the 13th minute, an excellent ball over the top of the Brocton defence from Stan Tatters picked out the run of Callum Chapman, with Allsopp on hand to gather. Brocton went close again in the 20th minute. A cross from Weldon was met first time by Will Whieldon and his clipped shot skimmed the crossbar. Sandbach responded with a snapshot from Josh Klein-Davies which was saved by Allsopp. On the half-hour mark, a free kick from Whieldon was straight into the grateful arms of Merner. Merner pulled out another excellent save to keep Brocton at bay in the 39th minute. A shot from Smith took a slight deflection and Merner parried it round the post at full stretch.
Half-Time: Sandbach United 0 Brocton 0
Brocton had the first chance of the second half. Excellent work down the right by Charlie King created an opening for Payne and his shot was saved by the legs of Merner. A minute later, Smith hit a fierce volley which Merner was again equal to. In the 53rd minute, an effort from Ben Haddaway was brilliantly cleared off the line. Sandbach broke forward and a miss hit backpass from King was intercepted by Klein-Davies who rounded Allsopp and placed the ball into the net. Brocton broke quickly in the 57th minute and a cross from Smith found Connor Haddaway in space, with his shot off target. The game was very even with both sides giving as good as they got. In the 71st minute Harry Cain’s goal bound shot hit Tom Vaughan and went out for a corner. Payne found his way into the Sandbach area but snatched at his shot and it went wide. Robbie Hatton and George West both had shots blocked as Sandbach strove for a second. In the 84th minute, Whieldon ran through the middle of the Sandbach defence but put his shot wide of the post. Brocton should have levelled in the 86th minute. A Sandbach clearance rebounded into the path of Smith and his inch perfect cross picked out Mario Novaku. The youngster’s first time effort hit the outside of the post and the chance went begging. West had a header on target for the home side but Allsopp was equal to it. In stoppage time, Smith got the wrong side of the Sandbach defence and his shot was somehow tipped over the bar by Merner. From the corner, Ben Haddaway headed wide. Five minutes into added time, Allsopp raced off his line to save from West. The final whistle went and the celebrations from the home side indicated how important the win was for their play-off aspirations.
Full-Time: Sandbach United 1 Brocton 0 Attendance:150
Sandbach United: Eric Merner, Callum Chapman, Liam Fitzpatrick, Jordan Stafford, Louis Johnson, Niall Cope, Kieran Alley (Brian Barton 76), Stan Tatters, Joshua Klein-Davies (George West 76), Robbie Hatton, Josh Oultram (Harry Cain 24). Subs (Not Used): Jamie Mellor, William Booth
Brocton: Tony Allsopp, Adam Weldon (Will Finlay 76), Jake Triggs (Luke Haddaway 70), Jack Bostock, Tom Vaughan, Ben Haddaway, Christian Blanchette (Charlie King 36), Will Whieldon, Reg Smith, Connor Haddaway, Morgan Payne (Mario Novaku 84). Sub (Not Used): Lewis Rowley