This Sunday saw the first cup action for SANDS United Cardiff as they matched up against familiar opposition from Cardiff Northern Old Boys in the quarter finals of the inaugural Cardiff Casuals Cup.
Buoyed by the mornings press coverage with an article in the Wales On Sunday, and also available via Wales Online, the Utd boys were in good spirits as the met up down at Cardiff and Vale Community Colleague Eastern Campus for the match.
Luckily a singsong in the changing room to club anthem “Stand By Me” (which certainly showed one of the main areas the guys need to work on) didn’t have too much of a negative impression on the starting 11 as the game started with SANDS taking control.
A flowing move right from the off saw a long shot by Rikki just over, and a pulsating drive forward from Stephen saw his effort rebound off the post. It perhaps wasn’t the start the Cardiff Northern Old Boys were expecting following our previous match, but it wasn’t long before they found their feet in the match and started dominating possession.
Approximately 15 minutes into the game saw the Old Boys break the deadlock with a good passing move from one side of the pitch to the other being finished neatly to give them a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately for SANDS, it wasn’t long before a second goal was added, when their left back managed to trip over his own feet, get back up, tackle himself before passing the ball straight to Northern’s flying attacker for him to finish easily.
Despite the setback, the SANDS boys kept their heads up, and quickly pulled one back, when a move started from a defensive throw in on the left hand side. It was moved neatly up field and was eventually crossed to Rikki who struck first time from the edge of the box and saw his finish curl away to the keepers right hand side and nestle in the top corner. Back to 2-1.
Both teams enjoyed further periods of possession in the remainder of the 1st half, and there were chances aplenty. Quick balls up field to the SANDS forwards causing problems for the Northern Old boys, whilst at the other end some clinical through balls down the flanks had the SANDS defence chasing shadows at times. Some superb keeping from both sides, especially Luke filling in the sticks for SANDS, kept the scoreline at the interval to 2-1.
The 2nd half got off to a fast paced start, and yet again it was SANDS who dominated the early chances without being able to draw level.
They were soon punished for not taking their chances as another fine passing move from Northern saw them extend their lead making it 3-1
Within minutes though SANDS pulled another goal back. A precise through ball from Adam finding Stephen on the left hand side of the opposition box. Twisting and turning 2 defenders, he managed to work the ball onto his right foot before burying the ball into the top right corner. 3-2.
Plenty more chances followed for both teams, and with some heroic defending from Simon, along with a stunning save form Luke when facing a 2 on 1, it looked like the SANDS boys were going to be in a comfortable position to grab an equaliser.
It wasn’t to be however, and as the United lads started taking more chances getting forward, a quick break saw Northern with a further opportunity to take the lead, and in this case took it to make it 4-2.
Nervous tension remained for the rest of the game, which whilst in general was played in a great spirit did see an Yellow Card sin bin offence for a Northern player. Unfortunately SANDS weren’t able to capitalise having the extra man, and the match finished 4-2 to the Old Boys.
Whilst disappointed not to have got something out of the game, the SANDS boys all did themselves proud, and the level of competitiveness shown in the fixture demonstrative on how far the lads have come on as a team since our 1st match against the same opposition 8 weeks ago.
Onwards and Upwards as always for SANDS United Cardiff. Back to training on Wednesday before our official launch game next Saturday versus a SANDS United All Star team made up of players from team around the country. We’re really looking forward to that one – so please come along and support the lads. Tremorfa Park 1pm kick off. See you there!