Saturday 18th of September 2021 • Redding Way, Knaphill
Looking to bounce back from a recent dip in form, The Vale travelled to Knaphill for both teams’ 8th fixture in the 2021/22 Combined Counties Premier Division South season. Knaphill had registered four draws already in this campaign so The Vale knew that they would be up against a strong, hard-to-beat side. The RPV defence was on especially high-alert as former RPV goal-machine Jack Williamson and flying-winger Darren Thomas had made the switch to the Knappers in the summer.
The sun was beating down
The pitch was in great condition as per usual at Redding Way and the sun was beating down ahead of the 3pm KO. Vale started brightly and dominated early possession, using the wide pitch at Redding Way to their advantage. The home side looked dangerous on the break, especially down their left, and Vale had a close scare early on as the Knaphill left-back broke past the Vale defence and fired just wide of Billy Bishop’s left-hand post.
Top scorer Jordan Gallagher
20mins GOAL 1-0 RPV! The first goal of the game came from the penalty spot. The penalty came following a trademark surging run from Louie Downey into the Knaphill box where he was eventually bundled over and the referee obligingly pointed to the spot. RPV’s top scorer Jordan Gallagher stepped up, sent Harris the wrong way and put RPV ahead. Straight after the goal The Vale had two glorious chances to extend their lead but failed at both attempts and lived to regret it almost immediately.
25mins GOAL 1-1. Just as RPV were looking to settle and consolidate their lead, the home side were level. A corner from the far right-hand-side was half-cleared and dropped to Horkan just inside the box who bobbled the ball through the crowd and into the back of the net.
Tempo slowed towards half-time
The heat then seemed to play a part in the game and the tempo slowed towards half-time and neither team managed to find their rhythm. HT 1-1.
Leaving Harris with no chance
47mins GOAL 2-1 RPV! The Vale came flying out of the traps in the second half and a lovely move down the left involving Gallagher, Cockle and Bellikli gave Josh Ano the ball 12-yards out, unopposed in the Knappers box. Ano rifled the ball into the roof of the goal leaving Harris with no chance. Surely The Vale would keep it safe for 5/10mins and look to build on their second lead of the game!
Allowed the Knappers to pounce
49mins GOAL 2-2. Comfortable in possession, The Vale were moving the ball around the back and through mid-field when a poor touch from Downey just inside the Vale half allowed the Knappers to pounce. The Knappers centre-mid stole the ball and slotted an inch-perfect pass through to the striker who couldn’t believe his luck. Livingstone was immediately through on goal and calmly slotted home past Bishop for the equaliser. Not one that Vale will want to see again.
The Vale found a second wind
The equaliser knocked Vale back and both teams struggled to find much fluidity in their play for the next 10 or so. Both sides showed that they were willing and able to play on the nice surface but the cutting edge in the final third was lacking. As the game entered the final 20mins, the home-side retreated and the slow restarts suggested that they were content with a point. The Vale found a second wind and it was really only one-way traffic from there on in. A combination of brilliant keeping from Harris in the Knappers goal and wasteful play from the RPV attack meant that no more goals would be seen on the day. FT 2-2.
Produced good quality
Credit must be shown to Knaphill who showed great togetherness and produced good quality when needed, however it will surely feel like two points dropped for The Vale who had lots of chances to get back to winning ways.
Photo: Dom Tait
Knaphill 2-2 Raynes Park Vale