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Tadley undone by second half wonder strike as Romans beaten by Knaphill

A wonder goal just after half time from Knaphill’s Adam Aziz, and a finish with the last kick of the game for Seb Karczewski condemned Tadley-Calleva to their second league defeat in as many games, writes Daniel Rhoades-Walkley.

After defeat at third place Jersey Bulls last time out, Tadley welcomed second placed Knaphill to a sun kissed, but bitterly cold Barlows Park. An improved performance was required, and the young Tadley side certainly reacted in a positive manner.

The home side got the game underway with an air of quiet confidence in The Pit at Barlow’s Park.

Joe Lawler’s Tadley side have fallen to back-to-back defeats
Joe Lawler’s Tadley side have fallen to back-to-back defeats

The opening periods were cagey, but even with Tadley looking to utilise the tenacity of their forward line, playing an aggressively high press, forcing a couple of mistakes from the young opposing goalkeeper. Unable to capitalise on these mistakes, Tadley faced a short period of Knaphill creating chances of their own, however all were untroubling to Atkinson in the Tadley goal.

As the evenly matched half progressed, most of the play fell in the middle of the park where both midfields were looking to gain control of the fixture, but with some loose passing from all, turnovers were aplenty.

Tadley could and probably should have taken a late lead into the half time break. Alex Miller had an excellent chance to opening the scoring with a low, strong effort from just inside the 18-yard box. The young winger received the ball inside the box, shifted the ball onto his right foot and let fly, unfortunately for Miller, and his side, the goalkeeper was equal to the effort saving low with his feet and away for a corner.

The home side continued to apply pressure on their visitors, managing to peg them back into their half for the remainder of the first 45. Half chances were created, but nothing of substance until the game entered a period of added time at the end of the first half.

A corner from the right hand side was swung into the box, it was flicked on at the near post and bounced through along the face of the goal where a fully stretched Andrew Charsley was millimetres from poking the ball over the line. Unfortunately for the home crowd, a Knaphill defender threw his body at the ball and cleared his lines, diverting any danger from his goal.

Tadley could have done without the half time whistle, but it came and brought an evenly contested half to a close.

If Tadley were to perform to the levels they ended the first half with, the Barlows Park crowd would sure to see points on the board.

Just three minutes into the second half however, Knaphill earnt a corner. Said corner was lofted high, very high, and looked to have no sign of danger to Tadley. However, Knaphill’s Adam Aziz had other plans. As the ball dropped from the sky, Aziz lined his body up with the goal, timed his shot to the second and volleyed the ball through a sea of defenders, onto the inside of the post and into the back of the net.

Tadley’s positive performance up until that point undone by a moment of magic.

The home side were on the back for arguably the first time in the contest as Knaphill had their tails up and pushed for a second quickly after taking the lead.

Despite pressure from the visitors, Tadley were able to nullify any threats & regain some kind of control in the game. This allowed them to push forward with intent, but frequently faltered with the final ball which ultimately proved costly.

A Jack French effort just after the seventy minute mark came close to levelling the scores as Jack French saw his shot deflected narrowly over the bar after some good work down the left hand side from Adam Hargood and Alex Fragata.

Tadley sustained pressure on their visitors but again lacked the cutting edge with the final ball, failing to break through Knaphill’s two lines of defence.

As the game progressed, Tadley threw centre half Brad Neal up the field as a target man in an attempt to launch the ball in behind the resilient back line of Knaphill. With Tadley throwing the kitchen sink at an equaliser deep into added time, a passage of play broke down allowing Knaphill to break quickly, firing the ball upfield to Seb Karczewski who latched onto the ball, cut back inside onto his right foot while moving into the 18-yard box and fired the ball home, past Atkinson & into the top right hand corner.

Tadley showed a much improved performance but were unable to find that final ball to unlock their opponent’s defence in order to create a real goalscoring opportunity. Tadley drop to eleventh in the table but still with games in hand on those above them. Up next is a run of four games on the road.

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