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Hartley 2 v 1 Knaphill

Post by KOB - 05-03-2016, 21:11

Take a bow Andrè Williams - that was some debut off the bench, but more on that in a moment.

Knaphill will be totally sick of playing us this season as that's twice they've finished the game thinking they should have got something. We knew it would be tough and it was made tougher still with several regulars unavailable for one reason or another, and the starting formation out on the pitch looked one that had been chosen more out of necessity than design. But the good news was that the imposters who played in defence at Farnham were nowhere to be seen this week - only joking boys! Noakesy and the Eagle brothers were solid at the back, and James did a good job after coming in for Walshy who picked up an injury in the warm-up. I thought the centre midfield partnership of Ian Jones and Dean Stowe did very well - lots of energy - and while it was odd to see Aaron Parfitt playing in an advanced midfield role supporting Sam as the sole striker, it kind of worked. The first half was pretty even, but with Knaphill having plenty of goes from distance without coming close, until late in the half. James came to challenge for the ball and got slightly ahead of it, and while the ball did drop in front of him, it was to a Knaphill player and meanwhile it allowed his player to get away down the right and the ball was played through to him. Steve Noakes had spotted the danger and gone across to cover James but the cross was whipped in early and sent over Craig by a looping header into the far side. 1-0 Knaphill at the break.

We started the second half very brightly, taking the game to the visitors and keeping a good tempo. After plenty of build up play with little end product, Aaron hit a free-kick just over. Knaphill had chances too - it remained an even contest. But there was something missing from us - plenty of effort and endeavour but a lack of that something quick, special, different. The perfect cue for Ross Cook to come off the bench! Only Cooky was sat behind me in the stand, injured. So instead, on comes young Andrè Williams, who I heard from those around me had earned his chance after putting in some good performances for the ressies.

Sam Argent had a header superbly tipped over by their keeper and I must admit I felt that was the chance. Knaphill had looked pretty solid at the back and so I never expected a superbly weighted through ball to be played a short time after - I think by Sam but may have been Ian or Dean - straight down a huge gap in the middle of the Knaphill defence (and now I knew where those defenders we had last week had gone!!). Andrè is quick and timed the run perfectly, but those balls that run straight, with defenders chasing you and the keeper rushing out, are seldom as easy to put away as it looks - well, you wouldn't know it from the way the lad tucked away our equaliser. Quality finish.

I have to be honest, I was thinking a point a piece would have been fair - it was a close game - but it wasn't long after that the ball was sent into the Knaphill box, headed on towards the far post and there's Andrè to get enough of something on it to see it home. You've got to be in the right place to score and the lad was in the perfect place.

The goals came late and so it was a shared feeling of many on the sidelines that we'd got out of jail today, but not because we'd played badly - there was a lot of hard work and plenty of good performances - but because, with both Ross and Shane out, we were lacking a partner up front for Sam, until that man Williams provided the spark. Some debut Andrè, well done, man of the match, two goals, three big points today.
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