Hartley 3 v Knaphill 1
Post by KOB - 10-09-2016, 19:26
An excellent second half performance took the boys to a well deserved and significant win against a skillful, well organised Knaphill side - significant because I'm sure the visitors will take points off plenty of teams this season, home and away, making it a potentially big 3 points today.
Apart from the odd stray pass, there's wasn't too much wrong with our first half effort in a very close contest, but it was Knaphill who took the lead from the penalty spot when their pacey right winger got into the box and Adam Everiss's challenge from behind brought him down. Not much doubt about the pen, but it was a genuine challenge for the ball and one he had to make, and fortunately Adam didn't see a red card.
Ross Cook had been working hard with Sam Argent to create an angle all half but the ball wasn't falling kindly until in injury time, when a ball into the striker saw his shot initially parried but it ran loose and Ross was alert to it and rolled it into an open net.
I'm not sure what the difference was in the second half, perhaps we were just that little bit quicker and sharper all over, but we began to dominate the game. That said, Knaphill contested it well and certainly didn't make it easy, which is why I feel it was such a strong second half from us. Adam Everiss found his timing and touch again and became a lot more influential out on the right flank, while Dean Stow, this week playing in the middle alongside Steve Laidler in the absence of Joe Paris and Ian Jones, played another blinder - that's three times now I've seen Dean this season, in two different positions, and he's performed superbly every time. Very classy, great to watch.
Defensively we were strong and needed to be, and I've got to give a shout out for the performance of Louie Paget - quite simply, he looks a fully fledged first team player now and plays with great composure for a young lad.
But biggest shout... well, it has to go to Ross Cook, and not just because he tucked away a penalty (never looked in doubt) and then nicked in to poach the real decider, our third and his hat-trick. Ross was as focused on his game today as I've ever seen him. Just wouldn't be distracted, and it was a highly deserved Man of the Match award he received afterwards.
At 2-1 the visitors missed a terrific chance when their centre-forward dragged a shot wide with the goal at his mercy (well, with the formidable figure of Craig Bradshaw facing him but still a gilt edged chance); we went up the other end, their keeper underestimated Cook's lightning quick reactions, and it was 3-1. It could so easily have been 2-2, and that's to Knaphill's credit. We played very well today, particularly in the second half, and yet they pushed us all the way.
Was also a big day for young Adam Horton, who signed first team forms this week and came off the bench for his first taste of Combined Counties League football. Well done Adam.