“THE FA Cup dream is over.”
Those were the words from Knaphill’s assistant manager Richard Keown, in the absence of boss Liam Parrington, after The Knappers fell at the first hurdle of this year’s illustrious cup competition.
And while many predicted the outcome ahead of the visit of Sholing, Keown was less than impressed with the manner in which his side lost; citing inexperience and a lack of desire to compete as the root cause of the Combined Counties League side’s ineptitude.
It was a contrasting performance to the Knaphill side that progressed through to the second qualifying round against National League South side Bath City last season – and won £6,425 in prize money.
Having scored seven and conceded just one goal from their opening two Sydenhams (Wessex) League Premier Division fixtures, it was another self-assured performance from The Boatmen at Redding Way – one that Knaphill weren’t able to counter.
The hosts were chasing the game as early as the third minute when Dan Mason was clean through on goal, before sliding the goal across Kieron Greene to give Sholing the advantage.
In reply, Scott Costello thought his header had crossed the line, but the match officials rightly ruled otherwise
Further chances came and went for the visitors, with Jack Collins most notably clearing off the line to deny Lee Wort, but the scoreline remained at 1-0 to give Keown and director of football, Barry Losty, plenty to think about at the interval.
In almost a carbon copy of the first half, Knaphill conceded within three minutes of the restart when Collins upended Dan Mason in the penalty box. After dusting himself off, Mason comfortably tucked away the resulting spot-lick to double his and Sholing’s tally for the afternoon.
With the hosts creating little in the way of goalscoring opportunities, it was perhaps no surprise when Sholing scored a third through Wort, which effectively killed off the tie in the 59th minute.
Speaking candidly to the News & Mail after the match, Keown pulled no punches, stating: “The performance wasn’t good enough.
“I thought our back four could have split better and make better use of the ball; I didn’t think our movement was very good up top, and we struggled to hold the ball when it did go up top. We also gave the ball away far too cheaply, which was disappointing.
“I don’t think we have the balance right between youth and experience among the current crop of players; there definitely needs to be a few new additions to avoid a repeat performance.
“Man for man I thought Sholing were far too strong for us; they were well-organised and we struggled to cope with the physical presence from their centre forwards.
“Having said that, I thought George Rowley was outstanding. Without him in defence, I believe we would have got hammered.
“Rowley was the exception to most today. Other players, meanwhile, need to harden up a bit; some of them need a big kick up the backside.
“Moving forward, we have to tempo and condition our personnel to meet with the demands of the level of football we’re playing at or we will struggle, no two ways about it; we definitely need to add to the squad,” confirmed Keown.
The Knappers can only hope for a better outcome when they host AFC Vardeanians in the Buildbase FA Vase on 1 September.
KNAPHILL: Greene, Barry, Rowley, Collins, Harris, Ahoblu, Losty (Knight), Costello, Goulter (Phillips), Rapley, Milne. Unused subs: Roffey, Roberts, Herring