Not the Best Weekend
The return of Mark Fletcher and Mike ‘Beefy’ Power provided hope to the Mens 1st XI squad who were thumped 8-1 in the same Cup fixture only 3 weeks ago. The Knutsford Knights limped into town on the back of a five-match losing streak but in the sunny microclimate of Bramhall, there was no lack of competitiveness in the opening stages with Knutsford forcing the early pace. Despite a fantastic first 20 minutes when the visitors dominated, the Knutsford forwards could not capitalise for the opening goal.
Knutsford’s defence was resolute and restricted Bramhall forwards to half chances causing their frustration to grow. The crowd were treated to the comical sight of Bramhall questioning a inconsequential decision and receiving a 3 minute explanation from the umpire with the home side seemingly immune from censure. As the half wore on, Bramhall were able to force a fortuitous short corner, scoring on the rebound to put Knutsford on the back foot not for the first time this season.
For 27 minutes and 12 seconds, the first half performance was as good as anything they had produced last season. One slip apart, the back four of Fletcher, Power, Locke and Price was solid. Ian Ward was a rock, combining with the industry of Dan Allan in central midfield while the colossal Simon Trenbrith was painting artistic strokes across the green Cheshire astroturf pastures.
If you’re only as good as your last game, Ward should have been be wearing a cape, with his underpants on the outside. He was a constant thorn in Bramhall’s side and the instigator of Knutsford’s best moves.
In the second half, the wind blew and clouds moved lower to witness the spectacle. Knutsford prayed to the gods that this was not to be another 2nd half catastrophe. However, as time wore on, any neutral inside the ground would have found it difficult to identify which side was pushing for promotion.
Bramhall may have shaded the possession but it was largely ineffectual and the Knights gave as good as they got. The animated and voluble Bramhall bench was silenced on 46 minutes as Trenbrith put through skipper Mat Hodge on goal. Hodge seemed to have only one thought in his mind as he launched himself extravagantly into possibly the finest shot of his life. The skipper has scored many vital goals for Knutsford, but it’s doubtful whether he ever pulled off a cleaner strike. It was so powerful that he finished with both feet in the air as the ball arrowed unerringly to its target, cannoning into the backboard. The Goalkeeper could only stand transfixed in wonder at the strike of a lifetime.
Knutsford’s precious equaliser put a new spring in their step with the marauding Duncan Nickless smelling victory. For a while the contest teetered in the balance with first Knutsford and then Bramhall having a opportunities to score. Knutsford had gained their share of midfield control and were constantly seeking to spring forward with quick through balls from Trenbrith. But Bramhall enjoyed the bulk of the play and offered the greater threat through their readiness to commit men into attack.
As Knutsford tired of chasing Bramhall, the home side scored to retake the lead. Knutsford continued to press for another equaliser but in seemingly familiar fashion this left the defence short and two quick late goals put a gloss on the Bramhall scoreline.
Hodge and Baddeley both again transgressed the basic new rule of no direct hit into the ‘D’ within the ‘25’ and were appropriately fined during the excellent lager and chilli dinner. The overall performance however was one the Mat Hodge was proud of “Victory belongs to the most persevering. Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.”
Despite the challenges of another promotion and losing some key players during the summer period Knutsford 1st XI Ladies are in inspiring form following their Champions performance last year….
Knutsford Ladies welcomed Runcorn 1st’s to KLC on Saturday. The team arrived in high spirits after their victory against Deeside Ramblers the week before, but the team were under no illusions that this was going to be an easy game. Knutsford lost 7-0 to their opponents in a pre-season friendly, so were looking to put right all the wrongs from that game.
After a few pre-game drills and another inspired team talk from Captain Fielding “we have the bare eleven girls, so man up and no-one get injured.” The game started in the same manner as previous; the ladies slow off the mark. Runcorn seemingly thinking this was going to be easy; they tested the home teams’ defence on several occasions but once again the combination of Nic Jackson, Tanya Westenraad, Sarah Crabtree, and man of the match Liz Armstrong was just too good to breach.
After about 5 minutes however, Knutsford began their own assault on the away teams’ defence and were beginning to build momentum. Katie Allan came close with a rifle of a shot, but the Runcorn Keeper was quick off her line and managed to bundle the ball out of play. However, it wasn’t long before the deadlock was broken and Knutsford took the lead from a cracking shot for Sarah Fielding, who once again demonstrated how to score from the top of the D – great shot, great goal – that’s 2 in 2 games for Fielding – “not bad for a midfielder ay?” The game restarted and so did the Knutsford pressure; their confidence rising. With Knutsford’s defence holding firm, the midfield girls were free to supply the attack. Caz Orchard and Heather Paton linking up really well on the right, but it was on the left that the second goal came from. Sarah Fielding and Caz Daniel once again showing great awareness of each other space; Caz Daniel released an early lay off ball to Nat Riley on the half way line who touched the ball past the defender and began her sprint to the goal, as soon as she entered the D, she released a great shot in to the bottom left corner to give Knutsford a 2 goal advantage.
Knutsford were cruising now, and despite a spell of good pressure from the away team, Knutsford made it three. Katie Allan and Sarah Fileding linking well but it was once again Caz Daniel the supplier, catching the Runcorn centre back too high up the pitch; laying off an identical ball to Nat Riley who couldn’t believe her luck. She touched the ball past the defender once again, and despite a nasty stick tackle from the fumbling Runcorn defender, Riley managed to get her shot off, and struck it hard in to the net – 3 – 0 Knutsford! Half time approached, and there was little to say in the way of performance – the score line said it all, however, the call was not to let the pressure slip. Knutsford got straight back into it as soon as the second half was called, with pressure once again mounting on the away sides’ goal. However, Runcorn were refusing to lie down, and started to begin to pile the pressure on Knutsford’s defence.
Liz Armstrong putting in a fantastic performance at left back, and truly deserving her girl of the game award! With around 10 minutes to go however, Runcorn got themselves back in the game with a deflected shot which found its way to their Striker who slotted home coolly. Was that the start of a dramatic come back from them? No. A few minutes later the awesome Caz Orchard supplied Heather Paton with a defence-splitting-pass, Paton cut in side brilliantly and struck the ball through the keeper’s legs. Game Over. Runcorn had no response to that and when the final whistle was blown the girls knew that the hard fought victory would take them ever closer to the dizzy heights of division two. Knutsford now sit in 3rd place with the visit of Acton due on Saturday. A great game from the Knutsford 1st team Ladies
Knutsford Mens 2nd XI also played Bramhall this weekend, at home, and it was a double blow for the men in black as both teams lost 4-1…
This week Knutsford Hockey Club’s mens second team took on Bramhall 2nds. Knutsford went into the game full of confidence with key players Yeates and Higgs returning. Before the game Skipper Pedlow tried to instil the belief that a victory was on the cards for his players saying “If we work hard and graft, a result will surely come our way. We make our own luck today, so lets make ours good.”
Knutsford started badly, with Bramhall applying plenty of pressure down the flanks. Keeper Punshon kept the opposition at bay on a number of occasions with some excellent agile saves and sharp reflexes. Hickson worked hard up top, defending from the front. However, the pressure told and Knutsford went into the break 3-0 down.
After half time, Knutsford fought back. Jones popped up in the D to tuck away after a somewhat scrambled build up. As Knutsford committed more men forwards, Bramhall countered and simply over ran the Knutsford defence, scoring a fourth with five minutes remaining.
Although this was a disappointing result, in truth, Bramhall were the better side and had more penetration going forwards and superior fitness levels. Pedlow was keen to look to the future: “Next week we play Lymm. If we remain as organised as in that second half, we will cause them some real problems. It is these sort of fixtures from which we take nothing, that we can learn a lot.”
Whilst the Mens 3rd XI travelled to Colwyn Bay and equally suffered the heartbreak of defeat…. the team took a very young and inexperienced squad to Colwyn Bay under the leadership of Captain Steve Hope. Like the previous weekend the 3rd XI were on the wrong end of a 6-0 result in similar circumstances. Whilst the team started well with everything all square on the 20 minute mark and Knutsford’s young lion cubs were playing some lovely hockey. However Colwyn Bay’s side were the better of the two teams even if 6 flattered them. A nod to Sam Cunliffe who caused the welsh problems all afternoon and especially to man of the match Ollie Lasham on debut who was outstanding in central defence.
Finally the Ladies 2nd XI travelled away to Warrington with full anticipation. 1 player down, missing some key players including their captain and 3 new players; no one knew what to expect.
The first half began with Knutsford under pressure from a fired up Warrington. Jess Lloyd led the way in defence along with Charley Attwood and Megan Evans, playing for the first time, to make it as hard as possible for Warrington while Bambi (Kat McCall, GK) made some spectacular dives knocking out some of the opposition. Despite everyone’s valiant efforts Warrington managed to sneak 4 goals in.
After a half time talk Knutsford came back on ready for action. Some quick thinking passes up the left meant Knutsford challenged Warrington’s defence and resulted in some near misses. In this half the ball stayed mainly under Knutsford’s possession showing why they have won their previous matches. Unfortunately Warrington managed to dart 4 more goals in resulting in the final result being 8-nil.
Congratulations to Elle, Charley and Megan who made their debut while everyone is looking forward to playing Warrington at home and reversing the result. Well Done to Rachel Taylor for being captain this week and thanks to Rich Holah for umpiring!