Sunday, 22 November 2015

Knaphill 3 v 0 Tunbridge Wells

Saturday 21st November 2015
Redding Way, Knaphill
FA Vase Second Round
Admission: £7.00
Programme: £1.00
Attendance: 154
Match Rating: 2

Today was the first truly wintry day of the season for me. After incredibly mild if damp conditions lasting right up to yesterday, this morning I woke up to flurries of the white stuff and temperatures barely rose above freezing point during the morning. But my enthusiasm was retained by the prospect of what was, for me, a very attractive fixture which I had been anticipating since the draw had been made.

Redding Way is about a 20 minute brisk walk from Brookwood rail station and is located on the edge of Brookwood Country Park, so it is unsurprising that the ground has a nice green appearance to it, nestled between rows of trees. Spectators enter the ground in one corner, and behind this goal is the brick clubhouse. Beyond the clubhouse is an atcost all-seater stand, and another of these is located close to the half way line. On the opposite side there are a couple of small covered areas of standing positioned half way towards each corner flag, and these stands blend in well with the trees behind. The area behind the remaining goal is undeveloped and out of bounds. Not only does the ground have a nice setting, but the club has also added some very nice touches to the ground. As well as attractive signage, there was a poster welcoming Tunbridge Wells supporters, an area singposted "Moaners Corner", and other signs encouraging locals to be a part of the club and come to games. The programme was mightily impressive in its professional design and layout, although it was rather light on interesting content.

This fixture pitted two mid-table sides in their parallel divisions, with Knaphill in 13th place in the Combined Counties League Premier Division, having win six and drawn two of their 14 games so far, against Tunbridge Wells, who reached Wembley as beaten finalists in this competition in 2013, but that seems an age ago now, as they then tried and failed to spend their way to promotion and this season are in 11th place in the Southern Counties East League, having won five and drawn three of their 16 league games and are without a win on their league travels. Today was Tunbridge Wells’ first game in this season’s FA Vase competition. Knaphill have beaten Lydney Town 3-1 at home and Cray Valley 5-4 after extra time, also at home.

On a bitterly cold feeling afternoon, made worse by a strong wind, it very soon became clear that there would no return to Wembley this season for the visitors. Knaphill had the first real sight of goal on 3 minutes when the keeper saved a low shot but from the resulting corner, the home side took the lead.  An initial shot hit the far post but Charlie Postance tapped the ball into the net. They doubled their lead on 37 minutes and it was no more than they deserved. After the ball was played low across the box, an initial shot was blocked but Postance tucked the ball home.

Tunbridge Wells really needed to up their game in the second half if they were going to even force extra time today, and they did start the second half better, applying some attacking pressure in the opening minutes. But still Knaphill managed to carve out chances and they really put the game to bed on 55 minutes. After the ball was played across the area, Rob Kerley drilled the ball low across the keeper and into the far corner. Tunbridge Wells really were a beaten team now and Knaphill looked far the more likely to score again, although the visitors were presented with a golden chance get on the scoresheet twenty minutes from time when a defender slipped on the ball, allowing the striker to run through on goal but the eventual shot was saved and the rebound was struck over the bar from an angle. But they never really looked scoring and will disappointed to have bowed out of this year’s FA Vase at the first hurdle after a poor performance. Not that that stopped the Tunbridge Wells fans singing and chanting throughout the 90 minutes.

No comments: