04.3.10 Marston Green 1-2 Knowle Ladies

Knowle Ladies showed their quality and took the full three points this weekend with a 2-1 victory over their near neighbours Marston Green.

The game started at a frenetic pace for both sides, meaning it was hard for either team to keep possession. This was not helped by the blustery winds blowing across the pitch and sending any high ball spiralling unpredictably on numerous occasions. Knowle were first to seize the initiative however, and took control of the game by keeping the ball down and passing short. Slick passing moves created separate chances for Kate Davies and Amy Brownson but Marston Green defended well, blocking shots and making last ditch tackles around their goal area to thwart each opportunity. The lively Jenna Clayton always looked dangerous bursting into the box and nearly put Knowle ahead after a mazy run, but her shot was well saved by the home side’s goalkeeper. Nicki Trevillion was also teed up nicely on the edge of the area but the keeper gathered her snap shot well at the second attempt with Knowle forwards closing in. However, the Robins got their reward after 35 minutes of bossing the game when Sam Smith volleyed a loose ball over the Marston defence to Jenna who made no mistake lashing her finish into the bottom corner to put her side 1-0 up. Knowle closed the half out by pressurising their opposition with a succession of corners that they just couldn’t quite convert.

Knowle started the second half sluggishly, and Marston Green sensed they could get back into the game early on. Knowle were pinned back mainly due to their own mistakes and looked panicky on the ball which was in sharp contrast to the first half. Stand in goalie Katy Smirthwaite came to their rescue with an smart stop on a clean through Marston striker, and Mel Faulkner had to react quickly under pressure on the back post to clear a couple of deep crosses. Knowle did still manage to create some chances, though these came via the long ball rather than the tidier passing game they played in the first 45. Jenna slid her shot just wide and man of the match Steph Hopcroft got the ball caught under her feet at the critical moment with the goal gaping. Marston Green’s determination finally paid off when their forward poked home the equaliser after the Robins failed to deal with a bouncing ball in the goalmouth. The Reds reacted well to the set back and they began to claw back control of the match, but they found the Marston goalkeeper to be in outstanding form. Knowle did eventually get their deserved second when Jenna received Steph’s clever squared ball in the box before turning her defender and firing into the net. The Robins were then able to throw on their two subs to help shore up the midfield but they couldn’t quite get the third goal to kill the game off. The resilient Ruth Hamilton cleared well to prevent another chance for Marston Green and her long throws provided a very useful weapon down the right side, creating chances for both Jenna and Laura Szurminski to break clear. With almost the last kick of the game this led to Nicki going very close with a shot on the back post, and although on another day they would perhaps have scored more Knowle were delighted to settle for the 2-1 win after a tremendous team performance.

07.3.10 Knowle Ladies 0-2 Walsall

Knowle Ladies slipped to an agonising 2-0 defeat at home to Walsall this Sunday after conceding twice in the last five minutes of the game.

The Robins started brightly enough; with new girl Vicki Shah creating the first opportunity when her through ball found Kate Davies, but she was soon surrounded by white shirts and couldn't get her shot away. This was a sign of things to come during the first half, with chances few and far between for both sides. Knowle defended well in all areas of the pitch, restricting Walsall to some long range shots which goalkeeper Anne-Marie Carter dealt with comfortably. Going forward, Knowle struggled to keep hold of the ball and although Jo Davies' pace caused Walsall problems out wide, the home side never managed to get enough support there to make it count. Walsall tried to take advantage of having the bright sun behind them and started to float high balls forward, but Knowle's back four had the beating of their opponents in the air. It looked like the first half would pass without incident, but the away side forced a corner late on which Knowle failed to deal with. The attacker's front post volley sailed towards the far corner, but Laura Szurminski had held her position on the post and stabbed the ball off the line to ensure the first half finished goal less.

The second period continued in much the same vein as the first with both defences still firmly on top. The home side had the first clear cut chance when the determined Nicki Trevillion won possession on the half way line and set Jenna Clayton free, but after beating the defender easily, Clayton's shot went inches wide of the post. As the players tired, the game became more open and Walsall began to press further up the pitch. Knowle stood firm and survived one scare when Sam Taylor hacked clear off the goal line. Mel Faulkner was also in the thick of the action when she caught an elbow to the throat after heading a high ball away from the edge of the box. Knowle's substitutions almost made difference after 70 minutes when Steph Hopcroft squared to Amy Brownson in front of goal but she was pushed wide and the chance had gone. With five minutes remaining, it looked like the match would end in stalemate, but disaster struck for Knowle when they lost the ball in a promising position. With too many bodies caught out of position up field, Walsall's winger snatched the clearance on the halfway line, before playing a cross field ball to the onrushing forward who rolled the ball calmly past the goalkeeper. Knowle threw caution to the wind in their attempt to steal an equaliser, pushing centre half Sam Smith up front and driving the midfield high up the pitch. However this left big gaps at the back, and Knowle were punished when the forward latched onto a long ball over the top and was taken down in the box by keeper Anne-Marie Carter. Walsall buried the resulting penalty to go 2-0 up with almost the last kick of the game, leaving a devastated Knowle side frustrated that their one slip in concentration had cost them a valuable point.

14.2.10 Walsall 3-3 Knowle Ladies

Knowle Ladies gained another important point in their relegation battle after a topsy-turvy game against Walsall finished 3-3, but were slightly disappointed not to gain all three after leading 2-0.

The Robins got off to the best possible start after just two minutes of the game when Amy Brownson wriggled free of two challenges before being tripped on the edge of the box. Jenna Clayton stepped up to curl the resulting free kick into the top corner to give Knowle the lead. Walsall responded by pushing high up the pitch and onto Knowle’s back four but the away side kept their shape well and stubbornly defended their goal. On the half hour mark Ruth Hamilton was at full stretch to prevent a certain equaliser by heading a dangerous cross away from three onrushing Walsall players. This almost created an opportunity for Knowle as Laura Szurminski raced forward with the loose ball, but her cross flashed across the face of goal. Knowle started to play some good counter attacking football and further extended their lead before half time when Kate Davies deftly lofted Jenna’s through ball over the onrushing keeper and into the goal.

Early in the second half the combative Steph Hopcroft was unlucky not to score with a long range effort which deflected straight into the keeper’s arms, but as the game became more stretched in the second half as Walsall threw players forward to try and get back into the game. They got their reward when Knowle failed to deal with a long cross field ball, allowing the Walsall forward to slot the ball home from a tight angle leaving the score at 2-1. Knowle responded well and some good work by the irrepressible Jo Davies resulted in a corner which was only half cleared. Jenna collected the loose ball and rifled it into the net from 12 yards out to restore the two goal lead. The excellent midfielder was unlucky not to complete a well deserved hat trick seconds later after bursting through the home side’s defence, but slipped at the wrong moment, skewing her finish wide. Walsall were not going to lie down, and rallied once again to close the gap with a powerful long range shot which Sam Smith could only divert past her own goalkeeper for an own goal. The match finished at a frantic pace as Walsall attacked Knowle with the long ball in search of the equaliser. This eventually came when the Walsall winger outpaced the Knowle defence and goalkeeper to reach a through ball first, rolling it into the far corner.

Knowle can be pleased with their all round performance and how they worked hard across the park, but know they will have to cut out the defensive errors if they are to build on this result at home to Ferndale next weekend.

7.2.10 Knowle Ladies 2-1 Rea Valley

Goals from Laura Szurminski & Jenna Clayton gave injury hit Knowle Ladies a vital 2-1 win against rivals Rea Valley this weekend, moving them up to 8th in the table. The win was all the more impressive as Knowle played for over an hour with only ten players.

The game started in a fairly scrappy manner, with both sides struggling to keep possession and tackles flying in amongst the midfield battleground. After losing two central midfielders to injury last week, Knowle were forced to field a new line up which took some time to gel together but they worked hard to keep their shape and contain Rea Valley. Chances were few and far between in the first twenty minutes; the best falling to Valley’s centre forward but under pressure from Sam Taylor she fired well wide of the post. This galvanised Knowle into getting their own attacking game into gear and they started to put pressure on the Valley defence. This paid off after Jo Davies & Kate Davies battled hard during a goalmouth scramble; Kate eventually picking the perfect pass out of the melee to Laura Szurminski who made no mistake in firing the ball past the Valley keeper for a 1-0 lead. Soon after Knowle suffered a blow when Katy Smirthwaite, who had been excellent in an unfamiliar central midfield role, went over on a divot in the pitch and tore her knee ligaments. The away side sensed they could capitalise on this advantage and finished the half by far the stronger side but could not break though to seriously threaten the Knowle goal.

Knowle began the second half expecting a Rea Valley onslaught, but it was the Robins who looked the brighter side, keeping the ball far better than they had first half and frustrating Valley by winning a series of dead ball situations deep in the opposition’s half. Knowle extended their lead on the hour mark lead after Kate’s corner was half cleared towards Steph Hopcroft lurking on the edge on the box; her deft header forward found Jenna Clayton who gleefully lashed the bouncing ball into the far corner of the net. The home side felt unfortunate not to have finished the game off when Jo provided a tidy finish to Jenna’s cross but she was ruled marginally offside, and soon after Valley clawed a goal back when their centre forward cut inside and rolled the ball into the bottom corner with twenty minutes remaining. Rea Valley threw caution to the wind and pushed three up front but Knowle stood firm, especially full backs Ruth Hamilton & Mel Faulkner who both made a number of important tackles and clearances. Goalkeeper Anne-Marie Carter pushed a cross away from a Valley forward with her fingertips in a heart stopping moment late on, but Knowle stood firm and saw the game out to gain all three points.

24.01.10 Leamington (Away)

Knowle Ladies produced a battling performance to earn a 2-2 draw away at Leamington. This was the team’s first game for six weeks, and the break showed as Leamington raced into a two nil lead inside the five minutes.

Firstly Knowle failed to deal with a Leamington corner, allowing the attacking side to win the original header which was blocked on the line. The loose ball bounced straight to an unmarked forward who headed home from 6 yards out. The home side continued to pour forward and doubled the scoreline when the Knowle defence found themselves over- stretched; and the unmarked left winger nodded a pin point cross into the net. It looked like a thrashing could be on the cards as a shell shocked Knowle continued to struggle to get out of their own half, and relied on last ditch tackles from Sam Smith and Amy Brownson plus a smart stop from goalkeeper Anne-Marie Carter to prevent Leamington extending their lead. To their credit, Knowle fought back and seemed to get more of a grip on the game after this early blitz, using the pace of Jo Davies and Jenna Clayton on the break. This resulted in a number of dangerous corners; and it was from one of these Knowle got their reward. The ball was half cleared to the edge of the area and a Leamington defender used their arm to block Nicki Trevillion’s thunderbolt shot. Jade Lapthorne dispatched the resulting penalty confidently and the first half finished with both sides looking fairly even.

Leamington came out for the second half the stronger team and had the vast majority of possession, but Knowle’s defence stood firm with full backs Mel Faulkner and Katy Smirthwaite both winning important headers early on. The Robins sat fairly deep and tried to hit Leamington on the break; Steph Hopcroft curtailed her usual attacking instincts to mop up in front of the back four and set the strikers away with a number of good balls forward. It looked like the equaliser would come when one of these passes set Jenna free but she unfortunately slipped on the greasy surface at the crucial moment. Knowle continued to work hard to keep Leamington at bay, blocking shots and making tackles all around the box. As the team tired, they were able to call on all three substitutes and fresh legs made a difference, with Kate Davies buying the team time by holding the ball up front and Ruth Hamilton breaking up play in the middle of the park. However it was Laura Szurminski who made the biggest impact, firstly snatching the ball off the Leamington forward’s toes as she was about to pass the ball into an empty net and then with two minutes remaining, scoring Knowle’s equaliser! The ball broke to Steph after Sam Taylor’s block tackle and she switched play to Jenna wide on the left. Jenna turned inside the full back and squared the ball all the way across the box to Laura who drilled it home spectacularly from an acute angle.

Knowle were able to see out the last few minutes of the game sensibly and came away with a deserved draw, thanks to a real team performance full of hard work and resolute defending.

08.11.09 Fairfield Villa (Home)

Missed chances and defensive errors cost Knowle as they went down 0-3 in their match against Fairfield Villa this week.

Knowle piled on the pressure in the first 20 minutes of the game and looked to be in control. A succession of early Jade Lapthorne corners caused consternation in the Fairfield defence, culminating in Sam Smith sending a free header wide of the post. Jenna Clayton was unlucky to see her shot skip wide of the far post after being sent through, and Kate Davies was thwarted by a last ditch tackle when it looked like the goal was gaping. Knowle rued these opportunities soon afterwards when Fairfield went ahead against the run of play. Fairfield’s winger reacted first and picked up the loose ball after Sam’s tackle in the box, and her speculative cross looped up into the air, skimming the cross bar before dropping into the far corner of the net.

The goal gave Fairfield a boost and they began to have more of the game. Knowle needed Sam to clear off the line and an excellent defensive header from Amy Brownson to stay in touch. The first half ended with Jenna sending another shot just wide, and the teams looked fairly equal in terms of play if not goals.

The second half proved more difficult for Knowle as Fairfield took advantage of their slow start, penning the Robins back into their own half. Knowle defended stoutly, and Mel Faulkner’s goal line clearance looked to have galvanised the team as they began to push forward again. However Fairfield’s speed on the break proved to be Knowle’s undoing twice. The second goal came after a long clearance was poked into the box by the Fairfield forward, evading both goalkeeper Manners and Sam Taylor leaving the other forward to tap home. Knowle threw caution to the wind in an attempt to get back into the game, but it was all over after another Fairfield counter attack. Both Knowle full backs were caught upfield and Fairfield produced a slick passing move beginning on the edge of their own area, and finishing with the centre forward sweeping home from 10 yards out making it 3-0 to the visitors.

25.10.09 Coventry Ladies Dev (Home)

Despite a 2-1 loss, Knowle came away with several positives after a good performance against league leaders Coventry. The team had to battle hard right from the outset as a confident Coventry side pushed forward straight from kick off. Good clearances from Steph Hopcroft and Mel Faulkner thwarted early Coventry chances, and the back four kept a steady line to catch the attacking side offside.

Knowle also managed to create a couple of chance of their own as the game wore on however; Jo Davies' flat cross resulted in a goalmouth scramble where Kate Davies was unlucky not to reach the final ball and Jenna Clayton slipped at the crucial moment after being sent clean through by Jade Lapthorne. The deadlock was broken by Coventry before half time though; Katy Smirthwaite made an excellent block tackle on the edge of the area after a corner, and the ball unfortunately cannoned straight into the path of a Coventry forward who volleyed home from six yards.

The game became more stretched in the second half as Coventry tested the Knowle line with a series of chipped passes over the top. Knowle stood firm, and Manners in goal made a couple of good saves when called upon. Coventry did go further ahead however, making no mistake from the penalty spot when Sam Taylor was adjudged to have tripped the forward. With 20 minutes to go, Knowle brought on sub Nicki Trevillion to anchor midfield and went to 4-3-3 in an attempt to salvage something from the game. This gave the side more threat going forward, and the ambition was rewarded with a consolation goal from virtually the last kick of the game. Sam Smith won the ball with a sliding tackle in the centre circle, and her pass forward was cleverly dummied by Kate allowing Jenna to race through and smash the ball into the net after her first attempt was well saved by the Coventry keeper.

Knowle were pleased with the effort and belief shown today, and will hope to take the excellent work rate and strong defending into their next game against Dudley.

11.10.09 Leominster (Away) League Cup

An emphatic 9-1 victory for Knowle Ladies against a young Leominster Town side saw them reach the quarter finals of the League Cup. Jenna Clayton and Amy Brownson shared the glory with 5 and 4 goals respectively, but the plaudits go to the whole team for an excellent all round performance, despite only having ten players.

Knowle started the game brightly, attacking the heart of the Leominster defence and creating a number of half chances. It took 15 minutes for the breakthrough to come however, when Amy Brownson looped a long range shot from the right wing over the keepers head into the far corner of the net. Knowle quickly added a second and third with Jenna firstly latching onto the end of Amy’s cross and then Steph Hopcroft’s through ball. Leominster pulled one back before half time with a well taken direct free kick, but Knowle still felt in control of the game.

After Leominster also went down to ten players at half time, Knowle benefitted from the greater space and tired legs in the second half. As if to prove her first goal was no fluke, Amy fired in two more wickedly swerving shots from the right hand side of the box to put Knowle 5-1 up and Leominster’s revival was crushed. Jenna also completed her hat trick by driving home Jo’s left wing cross after a swift Knowle counter attack before smashing the ball into the roof of the net after a goalmouth scramble for goal number 7. The excellent Amy rounded off her player of the match performance by scoring her fourth goal, this time from closer range. Finally, aided by her striking partner Kate Davies’ tireless running and closing down, Jenna finished off the game with a superb finish as she picked up the loose ball and rounded the keeper to tap into the empty net.

20.9.09 Rea Valley (Away)

Knowle came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 score line at Rea Valley as their mounting injury list took its toll.

Knowle started the game very slowly and looked a disjointed side as they struggled to get their shape in the early stages. Rea Valley looked to capitalise on this and created a number of half chances in the first ten minutes. It looked like there could be more problems for Knowle when Sam Taylor went off injured after fifteen minutes, with Ruth coming on at right back and Smurf moving to centre half. However, this seemed to galvanise the team and claw the impetus back from Rea Valley, closing down all over the pitch and getting their passing game going. The team therefore felt aggrieved to fall 1-0 behind when a Rea Valley corner swung all the way round into the net at the front post, and immediately began pressing for an equaliser. When it came the goal was worth the wait; Steph beat a player outside the box before bending her shot into the top corner of the goal. Knowle came close twice more with Jenna and Kate both shooting just wide, but then suffered another blow when Jo had to go off injured. Her replacement Jade made an instant impact however, calmly slotting her penalty into the net after Steph’s mazy run into the area was halted when she was tripped from behind.

Unfortunately for Knowle, having to use both subs in the first half made a difference to the game as a number of players carrying niggles had to play the full 90 minutes. Tired legs showed as Rea Valley were dominant in the second half, bombarding the Knowle defence throughout. To their credit, Knowle defended resolutely; Ruth battled well in an unfamiliar position, and was aided well by Amy’s non stop running on the right side, whilst Mel made a number of important clearances on the far post. However Rea Valley did eventually draw level, albeit in a fortunate manner when Nicki’s excellent clearance off the goal line cannoned off the knee of the incoming forward, hit the bar and bounced down over the line. This only made Rea Valley more determined, and player of the match Manners had to make number of brave stops at the feet of both strikers. Knowle simply could not keep possession which meant the onslaught continued. The winner came ten minutes before the end when a Rea Valley forward met a fizzing low cross at the front post and deftly flicked it over Knowle’s keeper into the net. Knowle summoned up a last bit of effort to try and create an equaliser but Rea Valley closed the game out with a good challenge in the box on Jade before she was able to get her shot away.

Knowle came away disappointed with the loss, but know they need to work on holding onto the ball far better in the next game against Redditch, and will hopefully have a full and fit squad as some injuries and illnesses begin to clear up.

13.9.09 Marston Green (Home)

Knowle came out on top in a hard fought game at Hampton Lane on Sunday to gain their second win of the season. The match began at a frantic pace and chances were created at both ends. Firstly, Jenna fired over for Knowle from just inside the box before the Marston Green forward beat the offside trap only to slice her shot wide. As the game swung end to end, neither defence looked particularly solid which resulted in both goalkeepers being called into action. Making her first start of the season, Manners made a smart stop at her near post before her kick sent Kate Davies clear, and her square ball was hit just wide by Amy. Soon after, Marston Green were denied by a last ditch tackle from Sam Smith and an important header from Mel. Just before half time Jenna latched onto Sam Taylor’s through ball and it looked unlikely the first half would remain goalless, but her shot rebounded agonisingly off the inside of the post straight into the grateful keeper’s arms.

Knowle started the second half the stronger side with the central midfield pairing of Steph and Nicki providing a number of passes into the box and Amy’s dangerous crosses creating opportunities. When the breakthrough came however, it was a defender who started and finished the move! Smurf made a strong tackle on the halfway and was able to carry the ball forward unchallenged deep into Marston Green’s half, before playing a clever one two with Jenna on the edge of the box. Smurf calmly slotted the return pass into the bottom corner of the net to give Knowle a 1-0 lead.

More urgency crept into Marston Green’s play after the goal and they put the Knowle defence under serious pressure for a ten minute spell. Knowle responded better than they had in the first half however, throwing themselves in front of shots and ensuring Manners was well protected. Marston Green’s revival was broken with ten minutes remaining when Knowle scored their second. Jenna’s high cross dipped over the keeper, and Jo was on hand to bundle in from close range putting Knowle 2-0 up and allowing them to close out the game fairly comfortably.

06.9.09 Leominster(Away)

Knowle Ladies made a good start to the season with a 9-4 win over a hard working Leominster side. The game promised goals from the kick off, with Laura racing straight through to create a chance for Kate, whose shot went just wide. Knowle made no mistake with their second opportunity though, when Jenna slotted Steph’s through ball under the keeper for a 1-0 lead. However, sloppy defending allowed Leominster back into the game; Sam Smith’s poor clearance set the centre forward up for an easy finish and then a lack of closing down resulted in a long range goal to give Leominster a 2-1 advantage.

This woke Knowle up and they soon regained their grip on the game, beginning to test the Leominster defence with some sharp passing football. Jenna’s pace and movement proved a crucial part of the attack, and she completed a first half hat-trick in record time after latching onto two more passes behind the defence. When Jade put Knowle 4-2 up with a well placed direct free kick from the corner of the penalty box it looked like that would be how the first half would end, but Leominster scored a quick breakaway goal to send the game in tightly poised at 3-4.

The second half saw Knowle settle into control of the game as their greater experience began to show. Jade and Laura’s ability to pick a pass from their respective wings caused Leominster endless problems and Knowle were able to create a number of chances. Jenna added to her tally early on with a smart turn and shot inside the box, before Kate extended the lead with a tidy finish after some good work by Sam Taylor on the halfway line. Jen then scored her fifth of the game after Mel and Jade combined down the left side to set her up.

As the game opened up, Steph and Nicki began to have more of an influence in central midfield, running from deep to join the attacks unmarked. This paid off when Steph curled the ball over the Leominster keeper from the edge of the area to get on the score sheet. Knowle suffered a set back with the loss of Sarah to injury soon after, but their play gained a different dimension with the introduction of subs Amy and Jo, whose pace and trickery provided a new outlet. Leominster pulled a goal back with a long range free kick on the hour mark to leave the game at 8-4, and it looked like they would close the gap further when they were awarded a penalty. However goalkeeper Smurf made an excellent stop low to her right to keep the ball out. Buoyed by this, Knowle broke forward again through Jen, who rounded the game off with a close range finish for her sixth goal of the afternoon, and a 9-4 win.

Knowle can be pleased with the standard of football they played throughout the game, and will look to build on this next week before returning to Leominster in the cup in a months time!

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