Inconsistency costs Knowle again
Robins lose 5-2 away at Leafield
A sluggish and lacklustre first half performance cost Knowle in their defeat to local rivals Leafield. The Robins were on the back foot from the start, failing to deal with the movement and passing of Leafield. The home side did keep the ball very well but Knowle did not press them enough early on and conceeded any sort of grip on the game. Good blocks by Sarah Jones and Steph Hetherington prevented an early Leafield goal, but it was only a matter of time before they did go ahead. The goal came from a clipped ball out to the rigth wing where Knowle were overloaded and the left winger raced clear to put the ball past Rachel Gibson in goal. Gibson then made two good saves to stop Leafield going further ahead, and Knowle really should have pinched a goal back against the run of play. Anna-Marie Robinson met Katie Smith's ball into the box, but her shot struck the goalkeeper. Leafield were also guilty of missed opportunities, sending an effort wide and Sam Smith hacking one off the line. Jo Davies found herself in an advanced position from a Knowle corner, but her effort screwed wide of the post. Leafield punished Knowle's lack of attention, sending a quick free kick into acres of space on the left wing. As the Knowle defence shuffled across, Claire Richardson was left isolated under the deep cross and although she prevented the forward getting a clean header, the rebound fell kindly and was smashed into the net. Knowle's heads dropped at this point and they allowed themselves to come under continual pressure by failing to win challenges in the middle of the park. The third goal was a penalty after Sarah Jones was judged to have taken down the Leafield forward in her attempt to block a shot, and the home side's goalkeeper duly dispatched the kick.
Knowle rallied at half time and came out with much better work ethic and shape. The back three started to win everything that dropped loose and the Knowle forward held onto possession much better. Mel Faulkner and Katie Smith combined well down the right before Smith's cross flew across the box only needing the slightest of touches. Leafield rattled the bar with an attempt on the turn, but it was Knowle who grabbed a goal back. Jones's ball into Moore was collected well by the forward and she found Robinson on the edge of the box. Her pass bisected the home side's defence, and Tyla Davison provided the perfect finish from 12 yards out. This gave Knowle heart and they soon grabbed another, Davison the scorer once more. Robinson was again the provider, clipping a ball through which Davison slotted past the keeper. At this point the Robins were well on top and came very close to the all important equaliser. Katie Smith was shining in the centre of the park and her ball was tapped round the corner by Davison to Moore who raced through and finished well. However the linesmans flag cut short the celebrations and Knowle felt aggrieved. The Robins suffered a further blow when Gibson turned her ankle when kicking the ball out of her hands. The injury was severe enough to see her subbed off, and Katy Smirthwaite took the gloves. Knowle had another glorious chance to equalise but Moore's effort crashed against the bar and was cleared to safety; unfortunate as her performance certainly deserved a goal. The game then fell away from the Robin when Leafield buried a long range free kick. The game became scrappier as the hard pitch thawed out and became sticky mud with the middle of the pitch becoming a battleground. Knowle could not regain the impetus, and Leafield once again looked the better side. Last ditch tackles by Sam Smith and a good save from Smirthwaite thwarted some opportunites. but they made it 5-2 when Knowle hesitated to meet a bouncing ball. The winger seized the ball, cut inside and thumped her shot in at the near post. The contest petered out after that and Knowle were disappointed that their hard work in getting back into the game went to waste in the end. They will look to put the same levels of effort and committment from the 25 minutes after half time into the full 90 minutes of the next game.