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Sep 19, 2015

Ashridge Park Royals 2 Sandhurst 3

Today we welcomed our rivals from Sandhurst, the only opponent in this season’s division that we played last season.   We expected Sandhurst to be well-organised defensively, and we had to make any opportunities count as chances were likely to be few and far between. We were also wary of their noted prowess from set pieces.
Onto the game itself. Opening exchanges were fairly muted as the 2 teams cancelled themselves out, but Dan demonstrated his pace down the left flank.  Did was busy and came close after bursting into the box.  The breakthrough came on 26 minutes, when a long ball from Dan found Alex who slotted the ball past the keeper into the back of the net.   Little had been seen of Sandhurst from an attacking point of view, until on 38 minutes a shot from outside the box was fired into the bottom corner of the Ashridge goal.  1-1 at half time.
The second half started promisingly with Ashridge attacking with intent down the right hand side, and it was no surprise to see us regain the lead, when an inch perfect pass from Peter found Alex enabling him to score a similar goal to the one he scored in the first half.  For 15 minutes or so the home team dominated proceedings, with Alex and Ben C combining to great effect.  A free kick from Ben went agonisingly wide of the post, and the visiting keeper made some excellent saves.
The final quarter of the game saw 2 evenly matched teams trying to seize the initiative.  With 5 minutes left, Todd picked up the ball on the edge of his box, beat several players, before passing the ball to the right, where a move including 4 one touch passes, eventually resulted in the ball being returned to Todd as he reached the 18 yard box when he was unlucky not to chalk up what would have been goal of the season.
With 3 minutes remaining, the Ashridge Manager decided to try to seal the victory by switching to 4 at the back.  Within seconds, an unsettled defence gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box.  The Sandhurst player unleashed an unstoppable drive into the roof of the goal.  More tinkering from the Manager, removing a defender and throwing a striker back on.  This spectacularly backfired with the opponents hammering in another 18 yard shot past the keeper to spark scenes of wild celebration. 
Overall this was a chastening and unnecessary defeat,  it had been pointed out that the visitors had barely had a touch within the Ashridge 18 yard box, yet had managed to score 3 goals, from not many more than 3 shots. A lesson to the Ashridge team (and Manager!!)
Next up, a trip to South West Surrey.