Knaphill created a little bit of history for themselves by becoming the team that finally ended Farnham Town’s record-breaking perfect start to a league season.

Farnham had won their first 25 matches in the Combined Counties Premier Division South, but this clash between the top two teams ended in a 0-0 draw at Redding Way on March 12.

It was a well-deserved point for the Knappers against the runaway league leaders in this eagerly awaited match, with both sides looking to cement their positions going into the final weeks of the season.

The big game was in doubt at lunchtime on the day of the match, because of the amount of rain that had been falling, but Knaphill gave credit and thanks to Farnham Town who had provided a squeegee to remove the large amount of water that was present on the pitch, which was in perfect condition at kick-off time.

Both sides started the match on the front foot, as would be expected from two teams in their respective league positions, with the season’s best crowd of 332 in attendance for the occasion.

There was a shock for Farnham in the very early stages, with Jack Dean shown a straight red card in the seventh minute for a foul on Aaron Burchett. Farnham manager Paul Johnson made a couple of substitutions and reorganised his team as a result of this setback.

The league leaders continued their pressing game, but found a very organised Knaphill side difficult to break down. Despite being a man down, Farnham seemed to cope well with the problem. Zac Hawker had a great game in the middle for Knaphill, breaking up some of the Farnham play and making important challenges on the edge of the Knappers’ area. He was also central to most of the Knaphill attacking moves.

Chances were few and far between for both sides during the first half, Sani shooting straight at the keeper when a chip might have been a better option and Farnham having a few shots that went over the bar. Half-time arrived with the scoresheet blank.

The second half started in the same vein as the first, with both sides looking to gain the edge. The chance of the game came in the 51st minute when Farnham striker Adam Liddle received the ball and turned his marker. His pace left him with a run in on goal and a one-on-one with the advancing Knaphill keeper Jos Barker. Liddle’s well placed shot was then superbly saved by Barker, who turned it away for a corner.

This seemed to be a turning point in the game, as Knaphill then upped their work rate and really took the match to Farnham.

Will Jacob was unlucky with a shot that was blocked and Calvin Camara started to cause Farnham problems with some good crosses. Jake Hawker had a great run in from the right that resulted in a shot going just wide in the 80th minute.

Farnham, despite all the effort expended by playing for 83 minutes with only ten men, kept their shape well and limited Knaphill to those crosses and shots from distance. The last chance of the game fell to Camara, who drove in from the left wing but shot over the bar with his right foot.

A goalless draw was a fair result on the evening given that both sides had solid defences and were well organised. The result was another precious point towards the Knappers’ pursuit of a playoff slot.

Fleet v Knaphill, March 16th 2024.
(Steve Gridley)

Perhaps the energy used to match Farnham took its toll when Knaphill travelled to mid-table Fleet Town on March 16 and lost 3-0.

A healthy attendance of 296 turned out to see if Fleet could be the first team to beat the side who had ended Farnham’s run, and the home supporters in that crowd were not disappointed.

Knaphill had some great chances in the first half, enough to have the game won by the break, but it was 0-0 at half-time.

Dan Bone, who left Knaphill in October last year, came back to haunt his former side with goals in the 55th and 68th minutes. Mihail Marinescu wrapped it up with a third in the 90th minute.