The Firsts paid the price for poor concentration and a lack of desire on Saturday, as Wheathampstead netted twice in each half to take all three points home with them.
In what was an even match despite the scoreline, Knebworth were unable to find a way through and left the defence and goalkeeper Dan Smith exposed too often. Tom Grieveson went closest for the Ks, thumping the outside of the post in the closing stages.
Next Saturday, 12 December, the First Team travel to Old Parmiterians in Herts Senior County League Division One; 14:00 kick off at The Thomas Parmiter Sports Centre, High Elms Lane, Garston WD25 0JU.
Reserves out-foxed by Oxhey
Regular correspondent Matt Cooper reports for the Reserves…
After four long weekends away, the Reserves returned to action in Watford, away at Oxhey Jets in a match that pitted the youth of Knebworth against the experience of an older Jets side.
On a pitch that has bared the brunt of the recent bad weather, good football was at a premium in the first 20 minutes as both teams looked to blow out the cobwebs. The first blow was struck by the Jets as a long route one ball straight from the keeper found their striker who lifted it over skipper Pettitt in goal.
For the remainder of the half however, Knebworth found their feet and created a number of good chances that should have resulted in an equaliser. However the Jets held off the barrage and made it to the break holding a 1-0 lead.
The second half started as the first ended, with Knebworth doing all the running and dominating possession, they were finally rewarded when Callum McKechnie reacted first to head home when an absolute rocket of a shot from Dunn which hit the bar from 30 yards.
Knebworth continued to push and play their football but the experience of the Jets began to show and they caught the Reserves out three times on the break in the final 20 minutes to take all three points. Positive signs from Knebworth but lacking a clinical touch in front of goal will hurt you against teams in this league.
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…
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.
Saturday saw Oxhey travel to Knebworth after another weekend without a fixture disrupting the rhythm. With some key players missing, U18 trio Tommy Rowe, Owen Hatfield and Liam George were handed their chances to impact the first team. Charlie Pratt’s injury also meant September’s Player of the Month Tom Grieveson was given his first start for the First Team.
The game started well, Oxhey making it quite apparent they were going to sit in and counter, meaning there was a lot of time on the ball. Oxhey pinned their wide men on the Knebworth fullbacks, with Hatfield doing a stellar job against what looked like it should be a mismatch.
Jimmy Agnew, always eager to push on, got in down the right hand side early on and played a fantastic ball across the box which went begging for a final touch. A succession of Knebworth corners then led to an Oxhey counter that resulted in the opening goal. One thing that has become apparent in these opening games of the new journey, is that heads dropping is an issue. When Oxhey added a second, we can make a direct comparison to the Reserves who also went 2-0 down and rallied for the win this weekend. However the First Team’s reaction could be seen at half time, and further cements that we are our own biggest enemies. Some tweaks are needed yes, but the majority is within ourselves, how we communicate, work ethic, everything that’s encompassed by the word attitude.
Anyway, the second half saw Oxhey get an early goal which was very swiftly followed by a Knebworth corner which caused confusion in the box and ended up in the net with George Kirtsides unknowingly making the crucial connection. Following that, there was more Knebworth possession, a trend of the game, Kieran Flynn and Harrison Evans to their credit continuing endlessly to come and collect the ball off of Tristan Potkins and Chris Grindal at the back who had acres to play with, there were a few occasions in the second half where Louis Curtis also found himself in shooting positions but to no avail. Big Tom Grieveson was a lonesome figure for most of the day, but some joy was found when finding his feet with him being able to link the play.
The rest of the second half is a bit of a blur as all the previously mentioned reasons came back into play, seeing a sin bin, a few individual errors that are still being ironed out, and Knebworth soon find themselves more goals behind with a unfortunate own goal, and one fantastic piece of play from Oxhey, arguably their only real show of class or genuine passing move of the game, but a great goal nonetheless. Knebworth managed to get a penalty late on, and it seems to be a bit of a local legend that Kieren Flynn just does not miss, check his Instagram. The game finished 6-2 in favour of the visitors.
It’s worth noting Dan Smith did not do a lot wrong, and I hope that as we make a few changes and when manager Adrian Turner returns to the fold from his much deserved holiday, we can do Dan’s performances justice as I know the perception when the score lines are read.
We go again. We train Wednesday. And we go away next Saturday and kickstart our season, because it will happen, we just need to take more ownership of how, and do it soon. Our individual quality does not entitle us to results, football is a cruel mistress.
Next Saturday, 31 October, the First Team travel to Aldenham in the Herts Senior County League Division One fixture; 14:30 kick off at University of Hertfordshire de Havilland campus, Hatfield AL10 9EU.
Reserves recover to win at Stanmore Jafferys
Matt Cooper reports from the Reserves’ road trip…
On a wet and windy Saturday afternoon, the Reserves travelled to down to Watford for a league game against bottom of the table Stanmore Jafferys on a pitch that held up surprisingly well given the weather.
Injuries, other commitments and First Team call ups saw a changed line up for Knebworth with Phillips, Hale, Dunn, Fisher and Rose all returning to the starting XI. It was great to have Jack Hare back in the squad as well after a long injury lay off. Keeper Alfie Pettitt retained the armband after a strong showing last week.
It was a difficult opening 15 minutes as both teams tried to gain a foothold in the match with the wind and rain restricting both sides to playing short passes to combat the conditions. Knebworth grew into the game nicely as the midfield trio of Rose, Dunn and Martin began to take control and keep the team ticking over.
Without creating too many clear cut chances, it was Knebworth who were dominating with the centre back pairing of Garrod and McKechnie having a lot of time to play out from the back and spread it to the flying fullbacks Fisher and Fleet.
However, those of you that have followed the Reserves this season will know of the team’s Achilles heel – defending set pieces, and it was for the fourth week in a row that the opposition opened the scoring from a set piece. A neatly worked short corner was swung in from the right touchline and managed to miss all attackers and defenders before finding the bottom corner.
1-0 down, Knebworth continued to control the possession in the first half and began to create chances with Fleet unlucky to hit the crossbar and Hutchinson putting a shot wide when through one-on-one.
Half time came and after a few tweaks and encouraging words from Phil and Aaron, Knebworth went out in search of an equaliser. With the wind and rain worsening, the neater football played in the first half by both teams became a real battle in the second half with both teams knowing the importance of what three points would bring to their seasons.
Unfortunately it was Stanmore who struck their second against the run of play. Their front two linking up well and even a sharp save from Pettitt wasn’t enough to stop the rebound from being slotted home.
Changes were needed, and they came with the introduction of Cooper and Draper off the bench to replace Phillips up front, and Fisher in defence. Knebworth began playing slightly more directly to the new look front three of Hale, Cooper and Hare as they tried to get back into the game quickly.
The Ks got their reward in the form of a long range effort from central midfielder John Martin whose well struck shot from 25 yards after a nice drive forward, was too much for the keeper to handle, and the lead was cut quickly to 2-1 with 20 minutes to go.
Martin would continue to lead the comeback and the equaliser came shortly after, his perfectly delivered inswinging corner was met by a towering header from Cooper to draw Knebworth level with ten minutes left on the clock.
Both teams had chances in the final few minutes with young defenders Nathan Garrod and Harry Draper defending brilliantly being well helped by the experience of McKechnie, Rose and Fleet. Skipper, Pettitt was on hand to save any shots that did sneak our defensive line.
With three minutes left, it was that man Martin again who inspired the comeback and grabbed all three points for Knebworth. After more good link up play between Martin, Rose and Dunn, he drove on and unleashed another long range shot that took a slight deflection on its way to finding the bottom corner.
The last few minutes were seen out comfortably by Knebworth and they took home all three points with a thrilling 3-2 victory. Massive character shown by the whole squad with all 14 lads having a giant impact on the game. A great result which takes Knebworth up to seven points from their opening five games.
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.