Thursday, 12 April 2018

BARNT GREEN SPARTAK 3-0 KNOWLE FC: FULL MATCH REPORT & A FEW IMAGES...

Spartak Took Chances In the Mist, Whilst Knowle Missed Chances At the Coppice…

Barnt Green Spartak 3-0 Knowle FC

Strange game, this… Knowle kept possession for portions of the match but failed to do anything with it, bar a shot by Nathan Corry which struck an upright and a low drive by Callum Ingram which was well smothered by home ‘keeper Callum Martin. However, the hosts benefitted from a very weird own-goal by visiting midfielder Ash Weeks, conceded a really soft second goal almost on half-time and then Knowle succumbed to a strike on the break by home skipper Dom Strevens, his second goal on the night, to wrap up three points for Spartak. The eerie evening of swirling mist and drizzly rain didn’t help the teams, nor me to film the ‘highlights’, of which there were not too many in truth, but taking photographs was extremely difficult, hence the dearth of them in the report below, for which I apologise.
BOTH SKIPPERS APPEAR TO BE PRAISING THE OFFICIALS...

Certainly the Barnt Green defence, in which James Karanicolas and Sean Keeley were like belligerent cavalrymen in Custer’s last stand on a few occasions, stood up to Knowle’s forward threat of Corry, Tom Craine and skipper Steve Ruck with aplomb, ably assisted by the smouldering Aldin Kahriman from midfield. His tackling was generally tough, bordering on harsh at times, like a bearded, invading Viking but he was so, so effective, as Knowle’s tall midfielders Ingram and Weeks attempted to push their ranks forward. A few last-ditch tackles by Spartak were splendid, yet really galling for Knowle but in fact neither goalkeeper was particularly stretched during an evening of Coppice gloom which resembled November evenings when I was a kid… 

An early shot by Spartak’s Corry, Wes, was palmed down by Knowle goalie Matt Owen, before Ruck shot well wide for the guests, as did Craine and then a Nathan Corry delivery was plucked by Martin like he was removing a parcel from a shelf but by this point the names on show began to make me think. Owen, like a ‘Gary Owen’ and Ruck seemed more appropriate to Rugby Union, Martin and Craine were surely from the TV series ‘Frasier’ and with Attenborrow, Martin and Craine, we had the makings of another BBC bird documentary… Sorry, but it’s what I do…
A PLEASANT SUMMER'S EVENING AT THE COPPICE...

Strevens and Ruck were both the top goalscorers and skippers for their respective teams and Strevens may well have rued a clear-cut chance provided for him by left-flanker Tory (liberal with his skills, yet laboured hard for his party…) Herbert. The ball virtually dropped onto Strevens’ right boot but his 16 yard side-foot volley rolled to Owen, leaving Captain Dom wondering whether a lashed shot might have brought a more spectacular reward. An error by Knowle’s defence allowed Strevens to shoot straight at Owen again but a couple of Knowle set-pieces offered half-chances to central defender Taylor Byrne, who first headed a Ruck free-kick too high, then nudged a near post corner from the left wide of the near stick.
STEELE, FOREGROUND: THE JANITOR...

Interestingly one of the Knowle defenders was heard to bellow, “They don’t deserve it…” when the hosts took a bizarre lead in the latter stages of the opening period. Another loss of possession by the guests allowed Reuel Prescod a run along the BGS right touchline but when the ball found its way across the edge of the penalty-box, there was seemingly no danger to Knowle but Weeks was jogging back to help out his defence and somehow, as the ball bobbled horribly in front of his left boot, his connection looped upwards in an obscure trajectory but towards his own goal. He must have been transfixed in horror as the ball dropped from a height just in front of the crossbar and Owen was unable to deal with it, so that Spartak led 1-0. Prescod was probably going to claim it but I believe that Spurs are hoping that Harry Kane will be credited with the goal. After all, Roz Kane, the Knowle central defender was nearby at the time…

Unable to respond with an equaliser, despite fighting back spiritedly, the visitors were then knocked back again, as Strevens finally found his goalscoring form. Kahriman’s challenge in midfield won possession for BGS, not for the first time and Herbert surged through the middle with Strevens supporting to his right. The ball then bounced unkindly off covering Knowle right-back Tom Cullen’s boot and then from Herbert’s toe into the path of Strevens as four players moved together in a bunch and his awkward and almost miscued shot from 16 yards as he was challenged, rolled past the stranded and falling Owen into the net. Knowle looked about in disbelief as Spartak reacted joyfully and Prescod’s mate in the grandstand chuckled his high-pitched giggle again…
STREVENS IS SURROUNDED BUT SEEMS CALM ENOUGH...

The interval had been reached, the mist and drizzly rain continued and at the rural Coppice you had the feeling that you wouldn’t find your way home on this awful evening, like you were lost on Dartmoor…
THE RESTART...

Early second period pressure by Knowle brought a corner, conceded by the alertness of Karanicolas but from the flag-kick The Janitor, also known as Spartak’s Mark Steele, did again what he did so well on the night: he cleared up a melee and mopped up any further danger. A cross from the left by Nathan Corry flew towards the right flank, as Knowle pressed forth again but a break by Barnt Green saw Herbert nearly latch onto a right-side centre but he was baulked by Cullen’s strong defending. The moment which possibly cemented Spartak’s victory to all intents and purposes then arrived, for the ever more lively Nathan Corry fired in a 23 yard drive which beat Martin but bounced off the base of the left upright. Barnt Green’s subsequent attack was more lethal however and Strevens got away right of centre, bore down on Owen and fired a smart finish high into the right corner of the net…
STREVENS: A BRACE OF GOALS ON THE NIGHT...

During the next period of the game, Knowle managed a good deal of possession but the encounter was also interrupted by a littering of substitutions. The changes took place around two meaningful attacks when first Strevens’ shot from Prescod’s right-side pass was deflected and then bright Knowle replacement Rhys Mason fired too high following a neat one-two move. George Seeley and Alex Litwenko were replaced by Niall Attenborrow and Mason for the guests, whilst Prescod, Karanicolas and Herbert were replaced by Joe Sims, Damon Costello and Daryl Green for the hosts. A hurried shot from 21 yards by Strevens drifted well off target but BGS were being encouraged to hold onto their advantage by this juncture and offense was very much secondary. Certainly Attenborrow was nippy for Knowle and without doubt Mason was very positive on the left-flank but still the visitors were unable to test the home gloveman, until Ingram’s low 24 yard strike was neatly gathered by Martin, swooping left. 

It only remained for Strevens to fire in a 25 yard free-kick which struck Knowle’s defensive wall on its way to being picked up by Owen and the game ended in a 3-0 victory for Spartak, who have played four fewer matches than their guests, mainly due to the regular postponements at the Coppice in the wooded Solihull countryside…

Knowle must have wondered whether all breaks, or slices of fortune had abandoned them totally on the night but despite their often patient passing approach play on a soft surface, the end product, or perhaps sometimes the run of the ball too, simply failed them. However in saying that, Spartak were up for the task of mixing it with their visitors and their spoiling tackles, the sheer involvement of those midfielders The Janitor Steele and the Viking-like Kahriman, plus the bodies-on-the-line defenders Keeley and Karanicolas were key. Full-backs Keannan Dunkley and Omar Sowe were regularly involved to bolster their central defenders too, yet most significantly the plundering of two chances by skipper Strevens, added to the joke own-goal, saw BGS to a victory to be savoured by their coaches…

TEAMS:

BARNT GREEN SPARTAK:
CALLUM MARTIN, KEANNAN DUNKLEY, OMAR SOWE, JAMES KARANICOLAS, SEAN KEELEY, ALDIN KAHRIMAN, WES CORRY, MARK STEELE, REUEL PRESCOD, DOM STREVENS (CAPT), TORY HERBERT.
SUBS:
NUURADIIN ISMAIL, DAMON COSTELLO, DARYL GREEN, KEVON HENRY, JOE SIMS.

KNOWLE FC:
MATT OWEN, TOM CULLEN, ALEX LITWENKO, TAYLOR BYRNE, ROZ KANE, CALLUM INGRAM, STEVE RUCK (CAPT), ASH WEEKS, TOM CRAINE, GEORGE SEELEY, NATHAN CORRY.
SUBS:
NIALL ATTENBORROW, BRAD BURDEN, RHYS MASON, NICK OAKLEY, RHYS DUNNE. 



       



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