First Division Cup triumph for Sandbach United
Mon 6th May 2019 | First Division Cup | By Ian Templeman
A tremendous second half comeback from Sandbach United saw them recover from two goals down to defeat Avro 4-2 in the First Division Challenge Cup final at Vauxhall Motors' Syncreaon Arena.
Avro had taken control with goals either side of half time from Kane Wallwork and Michael Stockdale, but as the hour mark approached, the game began to turn the way of Andy Hockenhull's men.
After Avro were reduced to ten men when Joseph Stockdale was shown a second yellow card, two goals in the space of four minutes from Will Buckley pulled Sandbach level.
The remarkable turnaround was completed in the final 18 minutes when Kieron Garner-Knapper and James Kirby added further goals to seal Sandbach's win.
It was a final score that few would have predicted early in the second half, once Avro had built a two goal lead after enjoying the better of the game up to that point.
The opening half hour in particular was played predominantly in the Sandbach half, with a well struck shot from Joe Bevan that stung the palms of Sandbach keeper Matthew Green the pick of the Avro efforts.
Sandbach did threaten sporadically on the counter attack and their best first half opportunity came on 34 minutes, when James Kirby got ahead of the covering defender to get on the end of a Will Buckley cross into the box, but steered his shot wide.
But Avro broke the deadlock in first half stoppage time when Kane Wallwork picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and fired in a shot that ended up in the back of the net off the near post.
Wallwork turned creator for Avro's second goal two minutes into the second half, when his floated cross into the box found Michael Stockdale at the back post, and the striker timed his run perfectly to side foot the ball into the net from close range.
But the game began to turn the way of Sandbach once Avro were reduced to ten men when Joseph Rathbone was shown a second yellow card in the 59th minute, and it was game on when Sandbach pulled a goal back five minutes later.
A surging run from Harry Cain took him into the penalty box, and when he went down under a challenge from Jack Poxon, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Will Buckley sent the keeper the wrong way with the resulting penalty, and four minutes later the same player smashed home the Sandbach equaliser with a cracking 25 yard shot from a weak defensive header.
With 18 minutes remaining Sandbach took the lead for the first time, with Cain once again the creator with a strong run down the left on the counter attack after an Avro corner was cleared.
Cain's pinpoint cross found Kieran Garner-Knapper in space at the far post, and he tucked away his 13th goal of the season with a shot under the keeper.
Eleven minutes from time, Sandbach centre forward James Kirby rounded off a great afternoon for his side with a fourth goal, picking up a through ball from Garner-Knapper to advance through on goal before finishing with a delightful chip over Latham in the Avro goal.
To their credit Avro never gave up, and they came close to reducing the arrears when a Michael Stockdale overhead kick was cleared off the line and a 20 yarder from Vincent Howell just missed the target.
But Sandbach held out against the late rally from their opponents, and their name gets added to the list of competition winners for the first time,.
Sandbach United manager Andy Hockenhull said afterwards:
"The last ten minutes of the first half they were the better team and they took their chance.
"We said at half time we'd need to keep it tight for the next ten minutes, and then conceded one straight away, but I thought going forward we always had a chance.
"Obviously the sending off helped us, their heads went down a bit but we had been creating chances before that and I didn't think we deserved to be 2-0 down.
"At 2-0 down we could have gone the other way and lost five, but we didn't, we kept to our plan and kept trying to get at the middle of their defence.
"It shows a lot of character when you concede in the last minute for the first half and early in the second half to come back, it shows the character we've got in the changing room.
"It gives us a good boost and everyone at the club deserves this. I'm sure we will improve things again next season, when you win things people want to come, and hopefully we will be there or thereabouts next year".
Avro: Jordan Latham, Jack Poxon, Kane Wallwork (Daniel Grimshaw 70), Vincent Howell, Sam Rathbone (captain), Michael Shenton, Jake Pollard (Louis Potts 61), Joseph Rathbone, Michael Norton (Duncan Knott 76), Michael Stockdale, Joe Bevan.
Substitutes not used: Liam Bennion, Reagan Jarrett
Sandbach United: Matthew Green, Matthew Pearson, Elliot Ledwards (Lucas Baker 46), Declan O'Riordan, Kris Stockton, Christopher Rowntree (captain), Jack Hart (Jake Chadwick 86), William Buckley, James Kirby, Kieran Garner-Knapper (Tom Williams 84), Harry Cain.
Substitutes not used: Aidan Haughton, Jack McKay
Referee - Yasmin Saeed
Assistants- Ali Rahjoo, Joel Buckle
Fourth Official - Philip Woodward
Attendance - 348