Matt Cooper reports…
On a cool, calm Saturday afternoon, Knebworth Reserves hosted Buntingford in a cup match with a quarter final spot awaiting the winner. With the First Team game called off and a number of players returning from injury, Kneb were able to name a strong squad of 16 with keeper Alfie Pettitt skippering the team on his 100th senior appearance for Knebworth. There was a big turnout of supporters cheering on the boys with the usual suspects creating all the noise on the touchline.
Similarly to last week, the opening 30 minutes were a tight affair with both teams struggling to assert dominance and create clear cut chances. Knebworth looked very solid at the back and kept the ball well on a difficult pitch.
The midfield trio of Josh Kirby, Liam George and John Martin grew into the match and kept the team ticking over nicely. Full backs Jason Fleet and Owen Hatfield were providing lots of width and Alex Richardson was causing the Buntingford back line lots of problems.
Unfortunately, similarly to previous weeks, it was another set piece on 35 minutes that was Knebworth’s downfall as a Buntingford free kick made its way over our a defence to a free man who tucked it into the far corner to give the visitors the lead.
Knebworth continued to control possession but couldn’t find the equaliser in the first half.
The second half began with more of the same, Knebworth controlling possession but clear cut chances were coming at a premium. Tom Grieveson was working hard up top to keep the opposition back line occupied.
After a few substitutions, disaster struck as newly on James Fisher dove in trying to win the ball back and gave away a penalty which was was duly dispatched to double Buntingford’s lead.
This didn’t deter Knebworth though and they continued to push forward in the hope of getting back in the game. They got their reward in the form a goal direct from an inswinging corner from Richardson that went straight over the keeper.
With 20 to go, it was all one way traffic as Knebworth threw the kitchen sink at Buntingford in search of the equaliser, chances for Cooper, Richardson and McKechnie went begging and some brilliant last ditch defending from young defenders Nathan Garrod and Harry Draper kept the ball in the Buntingford half for the remainder of the game.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be and it was Buntingford who progress to the next round with a 2-1 win. Lots of positives to take for the Reserves as they head back to league action in the coming weeks.
Raja Tandoori man of the match: Liam George
If you missed the match programme, download your copy here
Next Saturday, 24 October, the First Team host Oxhey in Herts Senior County League Division One; 14:30 kick off at The Rec (SG3 6AH).
The Reserves will be on the road with a trip to face Stanmore Jafferys, playing at Sun Sports, Bellmount Wood Avenue, WD17 3BN, in Herts Senior County League Division Three fixture; 14:30 kick off.