First Team well beaten by Oxhey
Tristan Potkins reports…
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.
If you missed the match programme, download your copy here
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.
Extrastaff man of the match: John Martin
Next Saturday, 31 October, the Reserves welcome Harpenden Rovers to the Recreation Ground (SG3 6AH) for a Herts Senior County League Division Three fixture; 14:30 kick off.