Knowle Ladies complete League campaign in style
3-1 win against Coundon Court at Wake Green FC
Knowle Ladies finished what has been a difficult league campaign on a high, with a 3-1 against Coundon Court. The game was played at nearby Wake Green FC as the Robins’ own ground is still unsafe following the events of Storm Doris but the team made themselves at home immediately, starting the brighter of the two sides. Claire Richardson was finding acres of space out on the right wing and both Tyler Davison and Ann-Marie Robinson went close to scoring from her balls into the box. The Coundon goalkeeper was on form however and made two good saves to deny the forwards. The away side came back at Knowle after these early scares and the Knowle defence had to put in a number of strong challenges to halt attacks. Stand in goalkeeper Katy Smirthwaite was also on high alert and reacted well to block a one on one after a short back pass put her in trouble.
Knowle’s next opportunity came from a corner; Richardson’s header was clawed off the line by the goalkeeper. Coundon also had a succession of corners, but Knowle dealt with them superbly; Smirthwaite taking a fine catch under pressure and Robinson, who was popping up all over the pitch, clearing three in a row. In fact Knowle took the lead from a Coundon corner; the cross was cleared beyond the far post and Richardson and Katie Smith combined with some fine work to carry the ball 60 yards up the pitch. From the resulting thrown in, Sarah Moore slipped her marker to find Davison and she produced a perfectly weighted square ball across the box for Robinson to drill into the corner of the net. Coundon continued to push forward and tried a couple of shots from around the edge of the box, but these did not trouble Smirthwaite. Knowle’s second goal was a more simple affair; Sam Smith headed a long goal kick down for Robinson and she advanced further into the Coundon half before trying a speculative effort from 25 yards out. The goalkeeper was unfortunate to see the ball squirm through her grasp and into the net. The home side should really have extended their lead when Richardson’s cross found Davison unmarked in the centre of goal but her firm header was directly at the goalkeeper. Coundon’s keeper also saved Moore’s attempt late on in the half but the Robins were more than satisfied with a half time lead of 2-0.
Coundon came out for the second half fired up and pushed Knowle backwards in the early stages. The home side defended resolutely however, winning everything in the air and getting their tackles in. Knowle were perhaps guilty of giving away too many free kicks close to their own area and inviting pressure, but despite a couple of scares Coundon couldn’t force one home. They came closest when following in a free kick that rebounded off Smirthwaite, but as the first attacker’s attempt clipped Smirthwaite’s legs and rebounded sideways, the second striker was in an offside position and her finish was disallowed. Mel Faulkner made an important block soon after that and once Knowle had weathered the storm, they began to regain their own footing in the game. Smith’s corners were still causing absolute mayhem; Knowle were disappointed not to capitalise on such excellent deliveries - Sarah Jones, Richardson and Smith all putting headers off target. Davison also had a long range effort dip just over the cross bar. The Robins did get a deserved third eventually; the tireless Richardson exchanging passes with Steph Hetherington and Moore to float over a cross which the defender could only head backwards and into the path of Robinson. She produced a deft header over the keeper to bring up her hat-trick, capping a fine performance.
Coundon still held a threat however, and they grabbed a goal back when a dangerous cross eventually fell to an attacked who poked it home. Knowle tried to shut up shop and hold their shape to thwart and further attacks and they held up admirably under pressure as well as holding onto the ball well to give themselves a breather. Jo Davies popped up at left back to make an important tackle after racing back twenty yards and that was the last of Coundon’s opportunities. Knowle finished the game camped in the away side’s half, good work by Davison and Hetherington running the clock down. A solid team performance with an determined attitude and some excellent football gave the Robins the boost they have been searching for and they will go into their remaining cup game in good spirits and form. A big thank you to all at Wake Green FC also for hosting the game whilst the Ladies; home ground is out of action – it was much appreciated by all at KLFC, and maybe the ground was a lucky charm!?