The First Team’s bizarre relationship with the league continued on Saturday as they failed to win again, albeit against a very strong Knaphill side.
Dave Harris and Gary Mitchell’s side cruised to two qualifications in both cups, both in mini-leagues consisting of teams from the same division and above, but sit bottom of the actual league table.
In truth, this was a much better performance from the team, who dominated the majority of the game, against comfortably the best side in the league. The home side’s intensity could not be matched and they raced to a two-goal lead. The first of which game from a powerful surge down the right from skipper Michael Woods, whose cross was strangely planted into the Knaphill goal by their own, unmarked, player.
Woods again was again at the heart of action for the second goal, forcing a mix-up between goalkeeper and defender before smartly turning and finishing into an empty goal. In writing it sounded simple, but Woods had a lot to do before fashioning the chance to score.
The visitors were rattled, and this was showcased by an off-the-ball kick on Danny Way after yet another Knaphill move broke down. The away side’s protests towards Paul Crouch were promptly muted after receiving the infamous death stare, not to mention the six stud marks illuminating from Way’s toothpick legs. Unfortunately the referee did not see it and that was that.
Characteristically, the First Team allowed Knaphill to claw their way back into the game, despite outplaying them for the vast majority, with two quick-fire goals at the end of the half. The first was an excellent strike from their right midfielder who arrowed the ball into the far corner from a seemingly improbable angle. The second was a gift from The Golds after Knaphill capitalised on a defence mix-up and the left midfielder swooped in to loft the ball over James Mullin.
The two late goals tinged what was an excellent first half from the hosts and Harris and Mitchell demanded much of the same from their side.
Keens Park almost regained the lead immediately in the second half after Michael Woods latched on to a through ball and tried to lob the keeper, but his effort was slightly too heavy.
Incredibly, within minutes of that chance, Knaphill took the lead. It took just one long throw to undo the Golds’ defence, who missed the initial flick-on and ultimately the header at the back post. This time, though, Keens Park kept their composure despite the goal.
The majority of the game was then played in the Knaphill half. Matt Kear and Bruce McPhail battled magnificently in the middle to keep Knaphill’s best player at bay and there was always a feeling the home side would fight their way back into it.
McPhail missed a golden chance with his head from six yards out, but Keens Park continued to press and were finally rewarded in the 88th minute. Ryan Wallis was allowed the freedom of Surrey to creep forward and eventually smash the ball in the far corner from range to give the Golds a much deserved point. Because no one else writes the match report, I can unequivocally confirm that the goal was the First Team’s Goal of the Season. No questions asked.
Despite the eruption of celebrations on the sidelines, there was still one last chance for Knaphill to score. Mass chaos ensued from a corner after James Crouch and Dougie Noble seemingly fell over one another in an attempt to clear the ball, but their flailing limbs eventually managed to clear the ball before the referee blew for full-time.
The performance may have deserved more than a point, but it was still a decent result nonetheless against a very strong side.
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