Ross Cook's goal secures the win following a difficult night against the Fizzers
Hartley welcomed back the returning Ross Cook but lost Eddie Smith during the warm up due to an ankle injury. Fair to say Sandhurst created the better opening chances and looked the brighter of the two sides. There were two notable chances created, albeit from distance, but Atkinson was called into action early on in the game as he acrobatically pushed over a dangerous shot just over the bar.
"But can they do it on a cold Tuesday night in Sandhurst?" A comment made as we walked out on what was, as the statement suggests, a wet and windy Tuesday evening.
Hartley began to claw back some territory, but were guilty of getting caught by the high line of Sandhurst who played a very high offside trap. It was that high line, however, that gifted Hartley their first real opportunity when the ball bounced into an area following a block tackle which was met by both Duff and Cook, but it was Duff who steamed his way through with a big touch that broke the line and he finished the ball with great composure.
It was an unusually poor performance for the Row as nobody took control of the game and we resorted to hopeful passes into non-existent space, or delaying a pass in which we'd get caught by the defensive trap. Credit to Sandhurst who were well organised and their particular style made it difficult for us.
A well worked move created a chance for centre midfielder, Parfitt, but he was unable to keep his shot down. Sandhurst were continuing to have shots from distance, but they were beginning to find a little joy in behind our defence (again, very unlike us). It was a shot from distance that brought them level. A shot that seemingly looked comfortable for Atko, but a swerve, divot or anything else we can blame, it somehow made it passed our keeper. Can't say that Sandhurst didn't deserve to be level at the break and we were in danger or possibly losing the game. Fortunately for us and once again no disrespect to Sandhurst, but the win was on the cards should the boys rectify a few simple things. Half Time 1-1.
Hartley started the second half the brighter of the two sides. We began to close the ball down in numbers and regain the ball in dangerous areas. Everiss picked up the ball a number of times and delivered some good crosses, but we were unable to convert. The referee made some odd decisions to the amusement and bemusement of us all.
It was the returning Ross Cook that gave us the lead and the eventual winner as he rounded the keeper after some quick footwork and slotted the ball home. Sandhurst continued to create a number of chances but Hartley managed to see out the game meanwhile creating opportunities of our own.
Sandhurst arguably deserved something from the game and we can consider ourselves relatively fortunate that we managed to get through to the next round as it was far from a convincing win. Can we do it on a cold wet Tuesday night in Sandhurst? Just about.
It's always been said that it's a sign of a good team that win when playing badly. I don't consider yesterday a bad performance, it's just simply no where near our usual standard. The boys have created a high expectation level due to the impressive displays they have put on in the opening months of the season. Pleased that we are through to the next round, but more pleased that we travel to Knaphill FC on Saturday afternoon. It's a great place to play football and back to league action, I know the boys will be happy to be back to the bread and butter of the CCL. The challenge now for the boys is to regain the quality that we know we are capable of. [DB]