Club News

Adult teams, Reserve team

Saturday 14 August – Reserves

Reserves skipper Matt Cooper reports

After the hard work of pre season, Knebworth Reserves travelled to Bushey Rangers for the season opener. 

A number of new faces for the Reserves this year with six players making their debut, it was a slow start for Knebworth as both teams eased themselves into the new season.

The deadlock was broken after Bushey took advantage of some sloppy passing out from the Knebworth defence. The Reserves dug in for the rest of half and grew into the game – finally getting their reward when a great run and pass from Tommy Rowe found George Phillips to tuck home from close range.

It was 1-1 at the break and after a firm half time team talk Knebworth came out and dominated the second half. A quick fire double from Elliot Cracknell, including a brilliant volley following a long through ball from ‘keeper Fordham, fired Knebworth into control. The defence and midfield worked hard to keep the opposition at bay, and it was a direct free kick goal from Liam George that put the game beyond Bushey. At some point the hosts netted a second goal.

The back four and goalkeeper held it together brilliantly under increasing pressure in the closing stages, and a bonus fifth goal was added when Tommy Rowe streaked though and put it over the goalkeeper to round off a brilliant team performance.

Knebworth closed out a great 5-2 win to start the season.

Extrastaff man of the match: Max Mahoney

Next week, Saturday 21 August, the Reserves host Aldenham for 15:00 kick off at The Rec (SG3 6AH)

Skipper Matt Cooper in action
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Non-League Paper – 14/15 August 2021

Article supplied by The Non-League Paper

So, here we go again! The 2021-22 season is almost upon us – for some it’s already underway.

Most of Step 5 and 6 started from July 31 – July! –  while this weekend (August 7) the FA Cup gets started with the Extra Preliminary Round, only nine months before the final on May 14.

For many, competitive football makes a welcome return after an enforced break from the game due to the pandemic.

At NLP HQ we have everything crossed for a ‘normal’ season, Covid has taken its toll on us too, but we’d like to thank our loyal readers for helping us to keep producing the paper every Sunday. We’ve not missed one weekend since the pandemic began or indeed for the last 21 years!

The previous 18 months in Non-League has been tough to say the least for all involved. The 2019-20 and the 2020-21 seasons proved fruitless for many although the FA’s restructure did at least provide some upward movement for clubs at Steps 4-6.

Step 3 can rightly feel hard done by having been stagnant throughout this time.

It’s why the FA’s Alliance Committee has been formulating contingency plans, with the feedback of clubs, to try and prevent any more ‘null and void’ seasons.

There are three approaches to the contingency plans:

Approach 1 – if the season successfully starts between August 14, 2021 and October 31, 2021, but it becomes clear that a division cannot complete 100 per cent of its fixtures, league tables would still be finalised providing the division has completed at least 75 per cent of its fixtures. Final league standings would be determined by using unweighted points per game and promotion and relegation would take place based on those standings.

Approach 2 – if the 2021-22 season cannot commence on or before October 31, an alternate competition would be implemented, with several potential formats under consideration determining promotion and relegation.

Approach 3 – if there is insufficient time for the regular season to achieve 75 per cent of fixtures, or an alternate competition to be completed, a supplementary competition would utilise results from completed fixtures in the 2021-22 season to avoid clubs playing opponents more than twice and ensure there is sufficient data to determine league standings.

The objective is to ensure promotion/relegation but, of course, this cannot be guaranteed. Who knows which way the pandemic will turn next. Such was the extent of the disruption last season, any number of contingency plans wouldn’t have prevented the curtailment of Steps 3-6.

Hopefully, these plans will never see the light of day, but at least they are there if needed.

Eventually, we will have all stopped talking about Covid! Until then, we wish you a safe return to football and a successful season following your team. One thing is for sure, win or lose, we must cherish standing on the terraces at 3pm on a Saturday!

Contact The NLP: NLP@greenwayspublishing.co.uk

Adult teams, First team, Reserve team

Seniors reports – Saturday 10 April 2021

First Team vs Oracle Components

Knebworth travelled to Richard Hale School to try and build on last week’s positive derby win. The opponents were pre-Covid league leaders Oracle, who were already a tidy side before making several additions before the transfer deadline passed. 

Knebworth were slightly depleted for this week’s game having seen a number of injuries develop through the week, feeling the strain of the fast paced return to football post lockdown. Jack Dunn and Jason Fleet were called up to strengthen the side after good showings for the Reserves the week before. Ollie Mitchell also retained his place after his man of the match performance on his first team debut. 

Special mention goes to Christian Grindal who managed to turn up on time, to the wrong fixture. Luckily with the First Team only being just up the road in Hertford Chris was there in time for the warm up. 

Christian Grindal racing to arrive before kick off

Oracle started the game patiently, keeping possession and working the ball across the very wide 4G surface. Knebworth were in good shape, containing Oracle in the most part to corner kicks and only really breaking the lines once or twice. Five minutes before half time Oracle got a free kick just outside the box which was struck with some power and unfortunately the rebound fell to an onrushing striker to send us in to the break 1-0 down. 

At half time it was decided that we needed to be braver on the ball, as working so hard without the ball bears its toll when there is no reward for your troubles. Early in the second half it was evident Knebworth were keeping the ball better, the ball moving through the thirds as opposed to being clipped over. There were three big chances at 1-0, the main two falling first to Louis Curtis who rounded the keeper to be stopped by a decent covering defender. The second coming to Seb Melendez who just couldn’t quite make it count. 

As has been the case a few times this season, we were punished for not making one of our opportunities count when Oracle scored after a fanstatic clearance off the line from Jason Fleet lead to the ball rebounding in to our net. This was the turning point in the match, as Oracle started to find the spaces and scored two quick fire goals making it 4-0. 

The fifth coming from a nasty deflection summing up the Ks’ afternoon with most of the goals all being really scrappy. One thing we must look to leave in this season, is our ability to let games slip away when we perceive the result to be concluded. 

The Firsts’ last group game next Saturday is at home to Hatfield United, another very good outfit which will give us a great contest. For us it is then about the summer; planning, preparing, recruiting, and looking ahead to what hopefully will be a full season without the interruptions. Rumours are circulating that there is a great offer of 4/1 on a Potkins goal from outside the box. 

Extrastaff Man of the match: Jack Dunn edges it for an assured first half performance. 

Jack Dunn making his voice heard when the man of the match vote takes place

Reserves hosted Hinton Reserves

On a cold overcast Saturday afternoon, the Reserves played host to Hinton Reserves in the second group game of the end of season cup competition. A string of injuries and drop outs led Reserves to only be able to muster a squad of 12 with a number of niggling injuries throughout the starting XI.

A tight first half ended with Hinton leading 1-0 after a scrappy goal from a corner, with defensive rock Matt Cooper forced off to receive treatment. The second half was a different story with Hinton clinically finishing a number of chances to see off Knebworth. Final score was 6-0. A disappointing result which was a harsh reflection on a performance that did have some positives given the circumstances.

Next week the Reserves play away to Bedmond.

Raja Tandoori man of the match: 16-year-old debutant goalkeeper Ollie Turner

If you missed the matchday programme, download your copy here

Youth teams

Youth report – Sat 10/Sun 11 April 2021

U13 Tigers show great resilience

The long awaited game between Knebworth U13 Tigers and Hatfield Comets was played out on Sunday at Knebworth Rec under blue skies, and on a fast pitch. 

It was self billed as the game of the season for these two teams, and it lived up to the hype. Both teams gave their all, and Hatfield came in at the break with a commanding lead, and looked to have the game sown up. The Tigers however were not finished, and showed great perseverance and tenacity to take the game to the visitors and claim the spoils for the second half. Whilst the Tigers didn’t manage to score quite enough goals to win the game, the effort was more than enough to make their coaches and spectators very proud. A goal by JH direct from a corner was a piece of great skill, MN made several last defender runs to stop shots, and GJ worked tirelessly on the wing both in attack and defence. Well done lads!

Player of the match was JR for some great saves and bravery in coming off his line and diving at the feet of the onrushing opposition.

Thank you to our new sponsors Fenton Engineering whose shirts were worn at Knebworth Rec for the first time this season.

U8s back in league action

Saturday morning saw all three U8s teams back to League fixtures with energetic and dedicated performances from all the players.

U8 Lions pleased to be back

The Lions were first up at home with a feisty game against a talented Wodson Park U8s. The players showed real commitment and desire and there were some slick passing moves on display – well done! Player of the Match was EC. 

U8 Lions player of the match EC

The Tigers followed and showed fantastic spirit, they were clearly happy to be back on the pitch. All of the players were incredibly positive and loved being back at the Rec. They played a hard fought game and showed great determination and positivity. 

U8 Tigers excited to be playing
U8 Tigers in action at The Rec

The Leopards played away at Wheathampsted against the U8 Panthers and thoroughly enjoyed their game. Player of the Match was awarded to Dominic for his excellent all-round goalkeeping. Special mentions to Harry for his goals and Ryan, as captain, led by example. Bradley and Alex made good interceptions in defence and Max and Leon showed good energy and determination in midfield. 

Well done to all the U8s for a fantastic return to football!

U10s Oranges

The U10 Oranges were back in League action at the Rec against Wheathampsted Wanderers Tiger Sharks. The Oranges started well with some good early attacks, some shots hit the woodwork but the Tiger Sharks were clincal. By Quarter 3, the Oranges showed great energy and pressure on their opponents and they battled hard to win the ball. Jacob made some terrific strikes on target, as did Seb in Quarter 4. 

The Oranges never gave up and kept on going but just couldn’t beat a strong Tiger Sharks team with some very strong players. All-in-all it was a great end-to-end game with Thomas player of the week and Tyler back from injury. The important thing was that the 8 players were back playing League games together again. 

U10s Oranges in action

Adult teams, First team

First team – Saturday 3 April 2021

The Ks resume with a win over Hertford Heath

Adrian Turner reports…

Well what a great game. On a bobbly and dry Knebworth pitch we welcomed Hertford Heath in the end of season cup competition. Both teams started brightly and were both playing on the front foot. Dan Smith was at his finest to keep out an early opportunity for the visitors and at the other end Luke Burkett went agonisingly close with a header. Hertford Heath’s direct approach was well managed as Knebworth kept their shape, as both team’s gave everything in this first fixture since December. Full back Ollie Mitchell was the stand out player of the half on his First team debut.

The second half started in the same manner with the visitors getting the ball forward quick but, again the Ks held their shape and a a good line and played some lovely football. Knebworth got their reward when a good move resulted in the ball being whipped into the Hertford Heath penalty box and forcing an unavoidable own goal; a well-deserved lead for the home side. Knebworth controlled the game for the next 15 minutes until a ball into the box caused some confusion and Peter Reilly took full advantage to poke home the equaliser. A shaky ten minutes followed for the hosts, but they gradually got back in control of the game and edged ahead again with the finest move of the game. A ball out by Smith to skipper Agnew who produced a delicious pass down the line which caught Hertford Heath out and a great finish by Seb Melendez. There were a few scary moments in the last 10 minutes as former Ks striker Charlie Pratt hit the crossbar and a couple of soft penalty shouts but Knebworth held on for a deserved win.

Raja Tandoori man of the match: Ollie Mitchell

A great team win and a perfect performance for our first game back. Well done lads!

Saturday’s match programme can be downloaded here

Match winner Seb Melendez