CLP SOCIAL MEDIA NOV2023 409

 

“Not failure, but low aim is the crime” – James Lowell

 

The game kicked off at about 3:15pm - the 3G pitch having been occupied by a series of junior games played before this fixture. The original kick-off time was put back from 2pm to 3pm to accommodate this and was subsequently further delayed allowing both teams to warm up.

This meant that there was a little disruption to the plans for both teams to get ready for this WRCWFL Division Two fixture.

As the light dropped and the cold set in, the game got underway with Athletico settling the quicker of the two teams, bursting forward immediately from the first whistle.

It was Athletico who created the first few half chances, that in all fairness didn’t overly trouble Ella Ritchie in the Knaresborough Town goal, but showed that the home team were very comfortable in front of goal, and were going to shoot on sight.

Town were initially restricted to largely breakaway attacks in the first 15 minutes of the game, reminding Athletico that they weren’t going to sit back and defend for the full 90 minutes.

In these opening moments of the half, both teams weren’t creating out-and-out chances to score, merely working into positions to create half chances and get shots towards the danger areas.

Then in the tenth minute Knaresborough pushed forward and a speculative cross-field pass from Town’s right towards Eva Jenkins on the left side of the pitch was too close to the Athletico keeper, who ran outside her penalty area to clear the ball out of the danger area.

Uncharacteristically for this excellent stopper, she didn’t make a clean connection and instead of launching the ball into midfield, skewed the flat clearance straight to Lorna Wilkinson who controlled the ball, looked up, and as the keeper scampered to get back into the goal, placed her shot past several defenders and into the far corner of the net to give Knaresborough Town the lead - admittedly a little against the run of play at that moment in time, 0-1.

Athletico pushed forward to try and get an equaliser, and that came around seven minutes later, when a run through the midfield by a couple of Athletico players ended in the striker getting a lobbed shot away just ahead of the blocking tackle by Beth Padget.

The shot lifted up from outside the D and then looped down over Ella Ritchie, dropping just inside the angle of the goal, with the goalkeeper unable to do anything about it, 1-1.

This understandably spurred the home team on, with them attempting a number of shots from distance in subsequent attacks, trying to beat Ella in a similar fashion.

Athletico’s second came from a free kick just outside of their penalty box and was beautifully controlled by the forward, who then played the ball sidewards, just outside the area. Moving forward a couple of steps into the penalty area, the ball was then played back across the edge of the box and with a beautiful side-footed shot, hit the back of the net.

It was a nicely worked goal and Athletico deservedly took the lead at this point, 2-1.

Shortly after, Athletico were awarded a dangerous free kick midway through Town’s half, but the resultant direct shot was hit straight into the Town stopper’s hands.

It was then the visitors turn to create a series of chances, with a number of runs down either wing that resulted in shots on or near goal, and in one particular case with a goal bound shot by Cass Lane from the right side-line - somehow being tipped around the post by the Athletico keeper at full stretch, diving backwards.

This was probably the save of the game and certainly one of the best saves that we’ve seen by an opposition goalkeeper this season.

As the first half drew to a close, the tide of play had changed completely in Knaresborough Town’s favour…with the Athletico defence being asked quite a few questions.

It’s probably fair to say that the visitors didn’t want the halftime whistle to go at that point since they were in the ascendancy.

When the second half got underway, Town picked up where they had left off at the end of the first half - pressing forward and trying to find a way through to score the equaliser.

We will be publishing extended match highlights from this game that will show the chances that both teams created in the second half, but it has to be said that Town pressed hard and created some very good opportunities to get the equaliser.

What followed; some excellent defending by Athletico; some superb goalkeeping by the home team stopper; and a number of chances that went wide of the post when normally Town’s front players would’ve scored.

With about nine minutes of normal time to go, Beth Padget went down heavily and there was around a ten-minute delay as Emily Crispin, Knaresborough’s physio, assessed Beth’s injuries and ensured that she got the appropriate medical care that she needed before being subbed off.

Beth was taken to hospital, and we’re pleased to report that she appears, at the time of writing, to be okay.

The game restarted about three or four minutes after the final whistle should have originally gone, with the referee adding about 15 minutes of injury time.

Knaresborough Town, despite having to reshuffle the team due to the enforced substitution, immediately pressed forward trying to build the momentum once more and get the precious equaliser their play deserved.

However, despite creating a number of golden opportunities to score, the clock ticked down and after an extended period of injury time, the home team celebrated their 2-1 win at the final whistle.

Knaresborough Town played well and let’s be honest, it was one of those days where, despite dominating play from just before halftime until the final whistle, they were unable to find an equaliser.

Normally, some teams would try and find excuses as to why they don’t get a result in a particular game; they will try to blame others, or the weather, or the condition of the pitch…I think we’ve all seen these type of reports and the reader would be left to make their own mind up as to whether those excuses were true or simply just a case of sour grapes.

We’re not going to make excuses; we lost the game.

The players gave their all, they didn’t resort to questionable tactics, and they certainly didn’t abandon the style of play that the management team want them to play.

This was simply one of those days. One of those days that the difference between getting a result and not getting result is down to the finest of margins.

Town’s team came into existence in August 2022, starting in Division Four and went the whole season with a 100% winning record. Knaresborough have started the 2023/24 season, just slightly off the boil, but have ground out results that meant up to this Sunday, they had played five and won five.

Athletico are the first league team to take points off Knaresborough in a competitive league match, and indeed the first team to beat Town in the league. This 15-month run of league victories had to end - it is inevitable that any team will lose or draw at some point, and it’s how they react that makes them winners or also-rans.

We don’t want this match report to take anything away from the fantastic performance by our hosts; as has been said in our match previews and previous match report, Athletico are an accomplished side, with plenty of pace, an abundance of skilful players, and a great way of playing – all backed up with a great management team.

We hold our hands up and say, fair play and congratulations on the win! You were more clinical in front of goal, and no matter how many statistics that can be put up, the most important one is the number of times the ball hits the back of the net. Well played.

Where does this loss leave Town this league campaign?

To be honest, it changes nothing. Our goals remain the same, the desire to win every game we can [in the cups and league] continues.

As indicated in the match preview, at this moment in time, Athletico have played just about twice the number of games that we have played, and have won ten of them, and only lost one. They have earned their place at the top of Division Two.

We wish Athletico all the best for the remainder of the season and their quest for one of the automatic promotion spots.

Knaresborough Town have now played a total six games in the league, and with continued participation in both cups and the December break in league fixtures, we face a busy schedule in the league come the New Year.

We’re hoping that the short break in December, and on into January will allow a number of our injured players to return to the squad as well.

Extended match highlights, reaction and photos to follow.

  

Goals: Lorna Wilkinson 1.

Player of the Match: Chloe Hickson; Goal of the Game: Lorna Wilkinson.

Referee: Idrees Akhtar