First Team win at Aldenham
Christian Grindal makes his journalism debut…
After putting to bed the bad result from last week, Knebworth travelled to Hatfield University to play Aldenham FC. The team arrived to be greeted by what could only be described as probably the best football pitch we will play on all season. With no changing facilities we were directed to warm up and get changed in a designated area next to the pitch. It would be hard to explain the condition of this area, but an Olympic swimming pool could be a start. With the warm up consisting of running against hurricane-esque winds and rain, the team were damp but spirits were high, especially with Harrison Evans unveiling his new white shiny boots! A few changes to the losing team from last week saw John Martin and Jason Fleet get their first call up and start for the First Team after impressive displays in the Reserves and Tom Grieveson championing the armband.
Knebworth started the game off strong with Kieran Flynn, Harrison Evans and Louis Curtis taking control of the match in the midfield. With Aldenham struggling to contain Louis, who drew several fouls within the first 15 minutes, gave us early opportunities to get the ball into the box and probe the defence and goalkeeper. As the first half went on Aldenham found their way into the match by executing what was quite clearly their game plan, using their pace down the wings to provide a few shaky moments for the team. But with Dan Smith and the back four putting in an inspired performance it was going to take a bit more than pace to break down this defence. After both teams having multiple opportunities but only one team having Tom Grieveson, Knebworth took the lead with the captain leading the charge. Another chance to double to lead came when Kieran Flynn delivered a sensational ball to the back post with Christian Grindal slipping his marker to produce a diving header that just couldn’t produce the power to beat the goalkeeper. Aldenham returned with their own chances on goal, but with a goal line clearance from Jason Fleet and the “human wall” known as Dan Smith sweeping up any balls over the top of the defence eliminated any chances they had, bringing an end to a positive first half.
The team saw no changes at half time, with the intention to carry on as we started. Although playing on a carpet, the excessive rain saw the quality of the game drop, with no team really getting a foothold. Aldenham, using their movement off the ball and pace, tested Knebworth’s fitness and character. With Kieran, Harrison and Louis all trying to get onto the ball and get Knebworth playing, John Martin, Alex Richardson and Tom Grieveson provided options but Aldenham made it difficult by throwing bodies about and disrupting Knebworth’s flow. George Kirtsides replaced Alex Richardson who put in a solid performance for the team. Knebworth was dealt a blow with Seb Melendez pulling up with an injury, he was replaced by James Fisher who dropped into right back moving Jason onto the left. With Jason not being naturally left footed and played out of position, he stepped up to the mark and filled the large boots left by Seb. Young James Fisher started his first appearance a little shaky by forgetting the size of the pitch and running the ball straight off and finishing it with a graceful stack. As the game progressed James found himself settled and caused the opposition problems down the right hand side of the pitch, on the defence and the attack, producing a goal-line block that epitomized Knebworth’s resolve. Myles Thomas replaced Harrison bringing strength, power and a set of fresh legs into the midfield to aid Knebworth on their way to victory. Opportunities kept popping up for both teams, but John Martin had a moment of magic in the dying embers of the game when he struck a 30 yard screamer, hitting the corner of the goal frame, leaving the goalkeeper unsure of what happened. The game concluded with a 1-0 victory to kickstart the season for Knebworth FC. Man of the match went to Christian Grindal but could have easily been the whole team. UP THE KNEB
Extrastaff man of the match: Christian Grindal (and not just because he wrote the match report!)
Next Saturday, 7 November, the First Team are scheduled to host Hertford Heath in the Herts Senior County League Division One; 14:00 kick off at The San Reco, Knebworth, SG3 6AH… pending Government announcement on suspending grassroots football!
Reserves humbled by Harpenden
Regular correspondent Matt Cooper reports for the Reserves…
On a incredibly wet and windy Saturday afternoon where games were being cancelled all over Hertfordshire, Knebworth Reserves hosted Harpenden Rovers on the irrigational dream that is The San Reco.
Call ups and unavailability led to another changed starting 11 with Agnew, Hatfield, Hare and George coming into the starting team. Pettitt continued as captain after last week’s magnificent comeback win.
The first half started with Knebworth creating a number of good chances with Hutchinson missing a one on one before having a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside. Agnew, playing up front was causing a number of problems with Dunn and George winning the early battles in midfield.
However, in 18 first half minutes Harpenden struck four goals in quick succession with a number of crosses finding spare men at the back post before the fourth being scored from the penalty spot.
The damage had been done and the wind had been taken out of Knebworth’s sails. Strong words were exchanged at half time with a couple of changes in addition to the rotational subs made in the first half.
The second half saw Knebworth regain a bit of control and they got an early goal in the form of one of the better own goals seen in recent times, the Harpenden defender rising highest and powering a header past his own keeper into the roof of the net. Knebworth continued to push in the second half but struggled to create many clear cut opportunities. The defence did well to ensure no further goals were conceded but the damage had been done in the first half and it was the away side that took all three points. With lockdown looming, it may be a while before the Reserves take to the field again…
Raja Tandoori man of the match: Liam George
If you missed Saturday’s match programme, download your copy here
Photos here with thanks to Tilly Sleator: https://knebworthfc.co.uk/seniors-photos/
Next Saturday, 7 November, the Reserves are scheduled to play Hatfield Town U23s for a Herts Senior County League Division Three fixture; 14:00 kick off at Birchwood Leisure Centre, Longmead, Hatfield, AL10 0AN.