Report: Sandbach United 1-1 West

Saturday 4th December 2021, NWCFL First Division South

Sandbach United 1 (Pope 57)
West 1 (Heathcote 25)
Att: 185

West and Sandbach United battled through biblical weather conditions to share the points in east Cheshire.

Despite howling winds and torrential rain, the two sides served up an open game with chances at both ends. West held a deserved lead at the break thanks to Sam Heathcote’s 18th goal of the season, but the home side were dominant after the break and claimed a point thanks to Oliver Pope.

Chris Rowley’s side came into this game on the back of something of an unwanted break after last weekend’s game at Brocton fell victim to the weather, and West looked full of energy in the opening stages. Ben Elliott went close in the first few minutes as he broke into the box before seeing his shot turned behind, and Liam Delaney had a fierce drive pawed away by Ramblers keeper Danny Hamlett. But skipper Heathcote ensured West’s strong opening would be rewarded with a goal midway through the first half when he powered home a Delaney corner.

Though this was West’s first visit to Hind Heath Road, Sandbach had been tough opponents on their visits to M21 – Marcus Dibble’s stoppage-time winner separating the sides in October’s reverse fixture. So it was no surprise when the home side grew into the game as the first half drew to a close, and began the second period on the front foot. In increasingly-foul conditions, Pope levelled the scores shortly before the hour mark as his deflected shot evaded the grasp of Andrew Jones.

The home side continued to dominate after the equaliser and though West had chances on the break through substitutes Zeke Eme and Aarron Grewal, the visitors’ unbeaten league record hung by a thread as Sandbach hit the inside of a post twice in the last 20 minutes. However, West remained resolute to ensure that unbeaten run did stretch to game number 21 – the referee’s final whistle coming just in time as the worsening storm made stoppage-time visibility almost impossible.

West: A. Jones, Cook, Hancock, Delaney (Graham), Dibble, Heathcote, Matthews, Gavin, Elliott (Eme), Swift, Gabidon (Grewal). Not used: Messam, C. Jones.

Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Sam Heathcote.

Chris Rowley post-match reaction: