Match report: AFC Blackpool 2 Sandbach United 1

Jack Williams opens the scoring for AFC Blackpool  Picture: Steve McLellan
Jack Williams opens the scoring for AFC Blackpool Picture: Steve McLellan
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It’s taken until mid-January but AFC have finally got the monkey off their back and won a game at home.

It came courtesy of another Callum Kirkland penalty save, a determined defensive display and two well taken goals at the other end.

Manager Stuart Parker was able to select a stronger team than last week with the return of Marc Taylor and Matt Richardson in defence, but the biggest bonus was having diminutive striker Jack Williams available again after his knee injury.

Williams wasted no time in celebrating his return with a fine goal after just two minutes.

Rick Tomlinson collected the ball in midfield and threaded a pass beyond the Sandbach back four for Williams to power the ball home from the edge of the area.

Only 60 seconds later and the home side thought they had doubled their advantage when Aaron Fleming slid the ball beyond Moss in the Sandbach goal, only for a linesman’s flag to cut short his joy.

After the frenzied opening the game settled down with the visitors showing why they are in the top six with some fine approach play that resulted in Bartle firing just over the Blackpool bar.

But AFC matched their opponents and perhaps Fleming could have done better when in a good position but his pull back found only a white shirted defender.

Sandbach were in the ascendancy for the remainder of the first period, and just before the half-hour, fashioned a fine equaliser when George Riley curled a left-footed shot beyond the despairing Kirkland.

Two minutes into the second period, the Mechanics lost Rob Hanslip to an ankle injury and brought on Ryan Charnley who brought a bit more zip to the midfield.

However it was Sandbach who had the next golden opportunity when the referee awarded them a penalty on the hour mark.

Once again Kirkland was the Ultra’s hero with a diving stop to prevent Lane from giving Sandbach the lead.

The game see-sawed from end to end and Moss did well to save with his legs when Williams was bearing down on goal, but soon after it was the striker celebrating his second goal of the afternoon when, again, he took advantage of a good through ball and outpaced the defenders to fire home.

The final 20 minutes saw the visitors piling forward, looking for the equaliser, but being vulnerable to the counter attack.

Wholehearted defending did the job at one end but Fleming tied his own legs in knots with only the keeper to beat and Moss again denied Williams the cushion AFC needed.

The final scare for the Mechanics was a Sandbach free-kick in added time but the wall stood firm and the tangerines were celebrating a first home win of the season.

The three points take AFC well clear of the bottom two, but with a run of three difficult away games to come, now will be the time for the team to pull together and aim for a mid-table position come the end of the season.