All Wright in the end - Tadley-Calleva 3-2 Knapill
A Ben Wright penalty just six minutes from time saw Tadley overturn a two-goal deficit to earn all three points on Saturday afternoon against Knaphill at Barlows Park.
Tadley’s fixture against fifth placed side Knaphill was one of only four in the Combined Counties South at the weekend as adverse weather conditions wreaked havoc on the fixture schedule. Luckily for Tadders, some excellent voluntary groundwork on Saturday morning was enough to get the pitch into a playable condition.
As the rain started to fall, the game got underway, and it was a slow start from the hosts. Knaphill instantly got going and after just three minutes found themselves with the first opportunity on the edge of the box. Unfortunately for the visitors to Barlows Park the effort went high over the bar and ended up in the car park behind the goal.
It wasn’t long until they found a way through however, with George Pilbeam notching his thirteenth league goal of the season. The goal scorer picked up the ball on the edge of the box and danced his way through the Tadley back line to stroke the ball past Atkinson and into the bottom corner.
A wake-up call for Tadley in the early stages of the game, much to the frustration of both the dugout and those in attendance.
As Tadley were trying to force a way back into the game, a loose ball just inside the Knaphill half was picked up by the away side. Driving forward quickly a chance created forced a wonderful save from the outstretched Atkinson in the Tadley goal. The resulting corner came in and once again, Atkinson made a vital stop at his near post, the ball found its way to the edge of the box and to Ward who hit the ball sweetly into the top corner, giving Knaphill a two-goal lead after just half hour.
Tadley continued to push to get into the game after going two-nil down and their persistency paid off when awarded a free-kick some thirty yards from goal. Ben Wright picked up the ball with most inside the ground expecting him to shoot. Instead, he played a quick ball through to Alex Miller who opened his body and bent the ball round the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.
Tadley now had a lifeline going into a crucial second half.
The opening ten minutes of the second half was a cagey affair, not helped by the rain once more, driving down onto the pitch.
Growing into the half however, it was Knaphill who looked the most likely to score thanks to the attacking intent of their two pacy wingers, but their chances would result to nothing. At the other end of the pitch, gamesmanship was already taking place. This was until a back pass from the left-hand side was misjudged by the Knaphill goalkeeper and allowed the on-running Alex Fragata to tap home from close range to pull Tadley level.
Tadley had their tails up and for the last twenty minutes looked the only side likely to win the football match.
In the eighty-fourth minute they did exactly that. Alex Miller picked up the ball on the left-hand side and drove into the visitor's box, forcing the full back to make a challenge. Miller went down and the referee pointed to the spot, without hesitation.
Up stepped the ever-reliable Ben Wright whose side footed spot kick flew past the goalkeeper and into the bottom left corner of the goal.
Tadley completed a brilliant comeback and showed great character in doing so. This leaves Tadley-Calleva in eight positions but with three games in hand on Farnham in seventh.