Report: West 2-1 Sandbach United

Saturday 2nd October 2021, NWCFL First Division South

West 2 (Gabidon 30, Dibble 89)
Sandbach United 1 (McDonnell 41)
Att: 515

Marcus Dibble’s 89th-minute winner was enough to see off Sandbach United and claim another vital three points.

Dontai Gabidon gave West a deserved lead on the half-hour mark, but Sandbach hit back and were level at the break thanks to Bobbie McDonnell. But Dibble had the last word to ensure West remain top of the First Division South.

Looking to respond after last weekend’s FA Vase exit to Parkgate, West started quickly against the Ramblers with Oliver Ford, Ben Elliott and Callum Jones all going close.

Sam Heathcote then rattled the bar with a free kick before Gabidon repeated the trick from open play, but the West number 11 was on target after 30 minutes. Elliott did excellently to hold the ball up and find Callum Jones, before Gabidon latched onto Jones’ pass and found the bottom corner via a deflection.

The opening goal proved to energise Sandbach, however, and the visitors ended the half on top. And they ensured they would go into the interval on level terms four minutes before the break – Bobbie McDonnell capped a well-worked move when he buried a shot past Andrew Jones and into the far corner.

The opening stages of the second half swung from end to end and Sandbach thought they had taken the lead not long after the restart, only for an assistant’s flag to cut short celebrations. Andrew Jones then had to be alert to shovel away a shot, but West began to re-assert their authority as the half wore on.

Aarron Grewal had a glorious opportunity following good work from substitute Jack Ryan, but last-ditch defending from the visitors saw the ball smuggled away to safety. Heathcote then had a shot charged down from a corner as the home side’s pressure began to build, before Chris Rowley turned to Billy Matthews with 12 minutes remaining.

Matthews’ introduction had changed the game in the sides’ previous meeting, and he had a key influence again as he forced a free kick on the right wing in the closing stages. Callum Jones’ low delivery caught out the Sandbach defence, and Dibble, who had scored a last-gasp equaliser against the Ramblers last October, slid in to ensure West continue to lead the way in the First Division South.

West: A. Jones, Cook, Hancock, C. Jones, Dibble, Heathcote, Grewal, Tinker (Delaney 69), Elliott, Ford (Ryan 60), Gabidon (Matthews 78). Not used: Gavin, Westall.

Eckersleys Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Marcus Dibble.

Post-match reaction from Chris Rowley