Fortress Knutsford rebuilt with first win
Knutsford 1st Team, a proud bunch of sportsmen still smarting from 6 straight defeats, started the game on Saturday like 11 wounded lions. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing and it was important that the home side imposed themselves on the game. Springfields, with only 2 wins to their name have hardly started their season at a gallop either. Nevertheless, the visitors rarely came to grips with Knutsford’s play which was based on aggressive, determined defence and attacking verve.
Any home supporters who witnessed the abysmal Knutsford warm up would have had grave concerns about their beloved team’s ability to break their duck. But Matt Hodge sent the self-motivated team out without the need to motivate them with his usual rhetoric.
Springfields played a well-coached ‘half-court-press’ but this allowed Knutsford some time on the ball who consequently settled into the game well. Somewhat inevitably, Knutsford conceded the opening goal from a well drilled short corner against the run of play. Though chances were at a premium, both sides played such attractive hockey, the umpires complemented the teams at half-time.
This day, Knutsford believed in themselves. Ian Ward and Simon Locke marshalled the central defence with growing conviction and this provided confidence to the rest of the team. Johnny Price, marauder in chief, was a marvel at right back and Mike Anderson had his best game for the 1st XI when coming on for the injured Ed Higgs.
Stuart Kenyon, playing his first game with the first team for a year, added terrific composure to the side in his familiar holding midfield role and was the fulcrum of the team, revelling to be back conducting his orchestra.
Semi-fit Mat Hodge, playing in an out and out attacking role, relished taking on the opposition and covering every inch of plastic. Hodge, Mike Power and Tristan Baddeley rotated the attack with midfielders Dan Allen, Steve Torrie and Ali Vale all irresistible.
Knutsford finally scored the goal they deserved with Mat Hodge skilfully bodyswerving to avoid the keeper and deposit the ball into an empty net. After this, the home side were looking like they finally had the shape and confidence to build a fortress once again at Westfield Drive. A well deserved second from Mike Power proved to be the winner, much to the delirious relief of the home fans who could now celebrate the win.
Knutsford Mens 2nd travelled to Llandudno this week for a vital three points but come home despondent and asking themselves what went wrong after losing 6-1.
Knutsford started well and asserted themselves as the better team but for two lucky goals by the opposition within the first 20 minutes Knutsford made another hard week for themselves. Chances were missed at both ends, Knutsford who had a number of short corners saved by good keeping and luck on Llandudno’s side. There was no break through until Hickson controlled a wild ball across the box and took a shot only for it to be stopped on the line by a foot. A flick was awarded, which was cleverly slotted home by Jones. 2-1 then until five minutes before half time Llandudno was awarded a flick, not the correct decision by any means but it was awarded anyway and driven passed Punshon’s top right hand side to make it 3-1 at the interval.
Like the start of the first half Knutsford went out like their lives depended on it and had plenty of chances but because of the game became stretched and left the back four of Riley, Ford, Drake and Yeates open which told halfway through the second half when the Llandudno’s forward made a 15 yard run unchallenged to chip it into the Knutsford net. This did not knock Knutsford’s confidence and had plenty more chances with Hickson again narrowly missing the goal to the keepers bottom right and Leaning missing at the back post but just like the change of weather Knutsford’s mood on the pitch soon changed as well after another two goals passed punshon after making the first save but the rebounds were finished well.
Even though the result does not resemble the game Knutsford played some good hockey and won’t be trying to forget everything about the game. Mom with the majority of the votes went to Evans with his good movement on the ball and off the ball. Knutsford welcome Alderley Edge next Saturday who are below them in the league so a vital win is needed. Good look.
Knutsford Mens 3rd team gave to players debut caps against Bebington 4s on Saturday. First cap to James Barker who played sensible, mature hockey for 40 mins to win his peers man of the match award; whilst recent import from the netherlands Sjoaka Hilrerda became the first 3s player to win his dutch cap. Hilrerda played solidly at right back providing an impenetrable barrier to all Bebington advances , so much so that they turned their attention to the opposite flank to get in behind Knutsford’s left back, entering the danger area and creaming a shot on the move from a tight angle past the faultless matt robbins in goal.
It was then deja vu as knutsford gave a second goal away within minutes whihc left the team 2-nil down at half time. However, Knutsford are built of stern stuff and their mettle showed as Stanier linked up with the brave and impressive Ollie Lasham to get the knights back in the game. Shortly after Gavin Merrill put Knutsford level taking the score to 2-2. The final 15 mins were scrappy but Knutsford gave a committed performance defending a couple of shorts to put more points on the board.
Knutsford travel to Bowdon on saturday for a 12:45 start with confidence.
Knutsford Ladies 1st team travelled to the Wirral on Saturday to take on Neston and as they say what a difference a week makes?! Well actually they say a day, but Knutsford needed all 7 days to rekindle their form from pervious weeks. After 2 lacks luster performances Knutsford were out to prove a point that they were still serious contenders in division 2.
With a few first team players missing; Captain Sarah Fielding handed Vicky Royale her 1st team debut; a. The first half was an open affair, with both teams showing signs of promise in the attack, but it was Neston who took full advantage of such promise; taking the lead inside the first 10 minutes, Knutsford seemingly always wanting to do things the hard way. However, the goal seemed to spur the visitors on and they responded well to the slight blip and continued to pressure Neston’s steely defense. Eventually it was Olivia Scott who broke the dead lock for Knutsford who slotted the ball home gracefully; showing great composure to make the honours even once again.
The half time whistle was blown and Knutsford went into the break feeling satisfied with their performance, yet feeling that they could give more. A slight reshuffle by the Captain showed a more attacking formation and this seemed to pay dividend as Knutsford started the second half in full throttle, taking full advantage of the quick surface. The ball was zipping around perfectly now and the game moved to a pace that Knutsford were more familiar with, and it wasn’t long before they carved an opening in the away teams back line. Olivia Scott made a great run in to the D beating the defender and laying the ball off to Nat Riley who was waiting at the top of the D; the ball hammered into the back board to give the visitors the lead.
Play restarted at the same pace, and Knutsfords’ defense was managing to hold firm; but a moment of confusion brought Neston back into the game; the ball broke free in the area and the home side didn’t ask twice at the chance to level the game once again. Knutsford were feeling slightly aggrieved and beginning to wonder whether the game was heading for yet another draw. However, they kept positive and managed to keep a tight grip on the game. Knutsford’s defense were holding firm, which allowed Katie Allan and Sarah Locke to push on, and force the attack from midfield. Debutant Vicky Royale; now playing at the right of midfield showed great commitment getting back to help her defense, but also supplying the attack with good enthusiasm.
With 10 minutes to go, the ball fell to Nat Riley who took advantage of a sloppy pass from the home side’s central defender and managed to scuff the ball into the net to give Knutsford a well deserved lead once again. With the score at 3 – 2 the home side pushed Knutsford right back to try and level the game. However, it was Man of the Match Sarah Crabtree who stood up to the challenge, and mopped up every ball that came her way. Her dominating performance in defense helped her side win all three points at the final whistle. A great performance from all 11 players for Knutsford, and a well deserved victory to move them into second place in division 2.
Reports by Simon Locke, Steve Hope, Jason Punshon, Nat Riley