A chilly Tuesday night under the lights was the perfect place for this game! Hot on the heels of some mixed performances from Vale a healthy crowd turned up at Grand Drive to watch the locals take on Knaphill who had a few mixed results under their belt including a 1-1 draw against CCL rising stars Jersey Bulls. After faltering against an excellent Colliers Wood side a week before Vale had clearly been made aware by Josh Gallagher that better was expected from the players’ feet but also from their mouths and heads and after 90 minutes the Vale had every reason to be pleased. A bright start yielded results on 19 minutes when a looping Vale corner led to a manic scramble in the Knaphill 6-yard box before Louie Downey put it away to put Raynes Park one up and just on the half-hour mark Nathan Lewis headed in No.2 to send Vale into the dressing room with a healthy cushion. Into the second half an early attempt by Dan Moody had the crowd gasping. Moody’s shot sailed over the bar but fifteen minutes later and Reece Williams-Bowers turned on the after-burners, broke ahead of the retreating Knaphill defence and - to the cries of ‘WAZZZAAAAAH’ from the Vale faithful, slotted low past the visiting keeper.
With the game effectively wrapped up
Vale play-maker Nes Bellikli was having his first real outing following injury and was starting to show why he has rapidly become a firm fan favourite at Grand Drive but, just past the hour, and with Vale in good control Josh Gallagher’s management team clearly decided that Bellikli could afford a break and he was replaced with Jordan Gallagher. Cousin Josh must be happy to have that kind of quality on the bench and a few minutes later the wisdom of that move was apparent as JG junior played in Louie Downey for his second of the game and Vale’s fourth. With the game effectively wrapped up the bench lit up the board and Tim Obisanya and Jamie Beveridge came on with both showing why they have a bright future at RPV. The second half was marred by some desperate tackles, a few off-the-ball shenanigans and some loudly decried refereeing decisions but, importantly, the Vale team refused to rise to any provocation and the game passed largely without any of the displays of ill-disciplined recklessness that has marked some Vale games recently. Some opportunities went begging when a simple lay-off might have produced a fifth or a sixth goal and, with the competition for the CCL South promotion slot looking tighter than the RPV chairman at the bar, Vale can only hope that minute goal difference stats don’t become the deciding factor, but for all that, this was a display that Vale fans are becoming used to and that we hope Vale players don’t come to expect - a clean sheet, four goals and Raynes Park firmly in control. In the RPV bar; after the match, it was Louie Downey who walked away with the JEWSON man-of-the match. It would have been hard to imagine how much more Downey could have done tonight.
Raynes Park Vale 4-0 Knaphill - Tuesday 29th March, 2022
Nathan Lewis scored the first goal
Watch three of the goals