On the first day of May, Wembley hosted Combined Counties team Sandhurst Town in the final friendly match of the 2020/2021 season.
Relive all the action with our extended match report below, covering every aspect of drama from Saturday’s 1-0 win.
The match was contested in rare fashion for modern day football, with no social media coverage due to the widespread boycott by sporting organisations across the country. Not only does this boycott aim to highlight all areas of discrimination within sport, but also makes a general stand against societal inequality.
By the time both teams had properly warmed up, it was clear that both the hosts in red and visitors in yellow were raring to go. The referee’s first whistle got the game underway.
The match began under high tempo, with glorious opportunities for both sides within the opening five minutes: a chance for the Lions arose following a loose backpass from Sandhurst, but the chance went missing and the ball flew straight out of the stadium, certainly not for the last time of the afternoon. Within the space of of minute, at the other end of the pitch a Dennis Bergkamp esque control and volley almost opened the scoring for our visitors. Both sides managed to contain the chances however.
Fast forward to the 23rd minute and the Lions broke the deadlock! A low drilled strike across the body of the young Sandhurst goalkeeper was enough to put the home side ahead. Wembley took no hesitation in sprinting to the corner flag to replicate Fresh Prince’s “Apache, Jump On It” dance as means of celebration. Some questionable hip thrusting but the raw emotion is what non league football is all about!
In previous weeks Wembley’s downfall seemed to occur in the moments after scoring themselves, and it seemed as this would be the case when Sandhurst drove forward after the restart.
Some neat build up play led to pinball in the box, with every single Wembley player on the pitch acting as defender against desperate Sandhurst efforts. Finally one airswipe too many allowed for the ball to be cleared for a throw in, and the Lions breathed a sigh of relief once more.
Sandhurst didn’t roll over though and continued to heave their battering ram against Wembley’s defensive door.
With ten minutes of the half remaining, a long ball over the top seemingly gave Sandhurst an opportunity they couldn’t miss. Just as the fizzers striker was about to release a venomous shot, a last ditch challenge knocked him off his balance, leading to sustained protests from the Sandhurst bench. Referee unmoved, the game continued.
Once again, Sandhurst fought to win a corner, yet the inswinging cross dropped straight into the hands of the Wembley goalkeeper. Now was the Lions’ chance to break.
Ball quickly rolled out. Pass forward to the halfway line. 50/50 won in the centre circle. Sprayed wide to the onrushing full back in the final third. Perfect chip to the edge of the box. Left footed control. One touch to spin. Aaaaaaaand….
The resultant shot floats just inches above the bar.
A collective groan echoes from the Wembley bench.
Much better from the Lions but the referee blows the half time whistle and both teams are able to regroup.
The match resumed in the same style as the half concluded, with open football displayed by both teams. The first real chance of the half however, came within the 54th minute. A quick dart from Sandhurst’s winger inside the box, dragging the ball past the defender towards the byline. Suddenly there was a tangle of legs and the attacker fell to the ground. Perhaps a different decision would have been made with the help of VAR, but the referee said nothing doing and indicated for a goal kick to Wembley, much to the dismay of the Sandhurst bench once more. The scoreline remained just 1-0.
The rest of the half was played at much slower pace, with Sandhurst naturally pressing on, and Wembley sitting back and forcing their opponents to attempt something special. This unfortunately would not come for the Fizzers, and although a new record may have been set for the most successive corners in a game of football, the visitors could simply not find a way to enter the Wembley net.
A few half hearted chances later and the referee concluded the competition. Wembley ran out eventual 1-0 winners against a Sandhurst team who showed strong determination and character, yet simply lacked the calmness and conviction to score a goal.