Knebworth Res. v Reserves, 17 Oct 2020 (Cecil Hudson Cup)
Buntingford Won 2-1
A short hop to Knebworth was the order of the day as Town met their local rivals in the Cecil Hudson Cup.
With Liam Faik and Sid Arnold being called up to the first team, Town were forced into a number of changes, and with Ross Murphy and Ryan Bailey also missing in midfield, there were first starts for Will Brant, Luke Sloan, Joe Tokely and Jake Bush in goal, along with returns for Alex Hewer and George Lovegrove.
With a great cup atmosphere and partisan crowd there was a frantic start to the game with both sides fully committed to every tackle.
Knebworth enjoyed the lion’s share of possession early on with Bunts looking to play on the counter attack, and the first chance of any consequence fell to Tommy Jackson after only 2 minutes, but his volley went just wide after being found by a Hewer set piece.
The game then quickly settled into a pattern of Knebworth attacking in numbers while Town comfortably soaked up the pressure and played on the counter attack.
The Knebworth high line was flattered time and again by a home linesman with a trigger arm and a colourful imagination!
On 28 mins good pressing from Town resulted in Tommy “Firmino” Jackson finding himself with just the goalie to beat from 18 yards, he almost had too much time and eventually he could only shoot directly at the keeper.
A little frustration crept in for Jackson and be was cautioned for a trip while tracking back; the intensity of the game barely let up for the opening 30 mins and several tackles were close to the limit.
Despite some early nerves in the Bunt defence, Lloyd, Toby and Will had begun to play with more confidence and with Alex Hewer and Joe Tokely giving them good options Town finally relaxed and began to enjoy more possession.
Still, their best option was the through ball and with a little more luck at times they were always a whisker away from being in on goal.
Town struggled to get forward in the wide areas but on 39 mins the ball finally broke to Reece Knapp and he rounded the keeper to open the scoring.
No changes at half time as Town had improved as the first half went on, but now playing up the slope they looked to exploit the ball holding up behind the Knebworth defence.
On 52 a whipped free kick by Hewer eluded the home defence but Tommy couldn’t guide his volley on target.
2 mins later a bullet header by Lloyd from a corner went narrowly wide.
Town looked to the bench now to freshen things up and Jacob Willis replaced Tommy on 55mins; his pace gave Town an instant outlet and coupled with his work rate Willis was a real handful for the Knebworth defence, so much so that on 60 mins he was felled in the box and Alex Hewer gladly stroked home the penalty to make it 2-0.
Knebworth had barely had a shot on target and despite throwing numbers forward rarely offered any meaningful attacks.
Ayo Akiode replaced Luke Sloan and Kapish Patel came on for Reece Knapp as Town looked to consolidate.
The addition of a robust target man for the hosts eventually caused Town some problems and his presence meant Knebworth had a more effective means of attack; that said, their goal came on 70 mins and direct from a corner, the ball swinging deep to the far post before dipping under the bar to make it 2-1.
Willis broke free again on 75 and after a great run his shot was eventually saved by the keeper.
George Lovegrove had worked brilliantly up front all game and he was replaced by Tommy again for the last 10 minutes.
There was a moment of tension for Town as Knebworth probed for an equaliser, after forcing several corners a low cross slid across the face of goal and past the far post as several attackers slid in but failed to make contact.
Finally the game ended and Town deserved their victory.
Despite the narrow winning margin Jake Bush in goal barely had a save to make and it was Town who really should have come away with a more comfortable win.
2 wins on the bounce now and there are the beginnings of a team now starting to form, there will be steps backwards, but they lads have made decent strides forward in recent weeks.