Penalties are bad for the health…

Last night at Knaphill, K’s survived. One down with fifteen minutes left, level with ten and then a l-o-n-g penalty shoot-out. Did we deserve to go through? Possibly not, we didn’t really deserve to win over ninety minutes over a Knappers side that took it to us all game, certainly had Knaphill held on then there wouldn’t have been too many complaints.

Happily for my team, they didn’t manage to do so and it’s into the Second Round and a home tie against Carshalton Athletic. A home tie! We haven’t had one of them for years, and for me it will be an evening to look forward to.

It was my first visit to Knaphill last night, and I quite liked the place, though it does help that we eventually won the tie. The compact and comfortable main stand reminded me of some nice nights in Cobham watching our Under 18s, though it wasn’t quite on the halfway line – there was a good reason for that as there was a full sized pitch next to it.

As it was set back a little from the pitch it meant that I stood up for the second half in order to see our forward play a little better. I’m as stiff as a very stiff post at the moment as a result of that, it’s not something I’ve done for a while but I did enjoy it, I felt able to urge my team on to better things by voice and gesture (as the late and very great Terry Wogan liked to say) more than I have in a long time, though it didn’t stop me from not recognising who scored our goal (sorry to Tommy Brewer!)…thankfully no microphone duties for me last night…

Anyway, as for the game, yes it wasn’t the greatest in the history of the world. We found it very difficult against Knaphill, they hardly gave us a moment’s rest and it was more relief than anything that we went through. But to come back from a goal down when not playing well is always a good thing, it would have been easier to think that it wasn’t our night and slink away with proverbial tails between some other proverbials whilst uttering other proverbials.

Because cup rules dictate that if a player is not on the books of a club on the original date of a tie then that player is ineligible when the tie does finally get played. As a result we had a few players unable to play. Our manager Leigh Dynan threw in some of the under 18s, two of them, Jay Vincent and Owen Coleman, played and I thought they did very well indeed, and Owen’s penalty in the shoot-out was one of the ballsiest penalties I’ve seen in a long time. Thanks to Tolfs making his second save of the shoot-out, it turned out to be the winner.

The penalty shoot-out was quality – the vast majority of kicks were excellent, the Knaphill keeper made a fine save from Elliott Buchanan (after he hit the post with a beauty of a free kick, he would entitled to think that it wasn’t his night, but this was a penalty save and not a miss), but Rob Tolfrey made two and that was the only difference.

I did see one comment on the interweb about complaining that we only won on penalties against a Combined Counties League Premier side and why did we let this happen. Comments like this frustrate the hell out of me, I do wish people would learn to pay some respect sometimes. Whilst I did expect us to win, it was obvious that the game was going to be pretty darn hard. We’ve been punted out of cup competitions by lower level opposition on so many occasions now that games like this almost come to be feared or at least be very wary of. We weren’t at our best yesterday but you have to give Knaphill oodles of credit for being at fault for that, so I will. Be happy that we went through, people. I am.

At least we showed up for the battle last night, it wasn’t a repeat of the night before for me when Liverpool stunk up Molineux and quietly went out of the FA Cup. Every season Jurgen Klopp insists that he is not disrespecting the FA Cup and every season I disagree with him, but this time the team he put out should have done the job.

But for players in the shop window, who fancy the idea of moving to another club in order to play with a semblance of regularity, some of them were appalling. Our two starting forwards, Sturridge and Origi, are simply enigmas – plenty of talent, they can and have done special things in Liverpool shirts, but on Monday they were just jogging around. It still surprises me that Origi scored. Moreno should be nowhere near a Liverpool shirt, even in a shop, and was no help at all to Rafa Camacho all game. Dejan Lovren, the self proclaimed best defender in the world, was injured after about a minute, which makes me wonder what type of warm-up he did – he may think how wonderful he is, but his replacement on the night, Ki-Jana Hoever, gets in the team in his stead every time based on what I saw. James Milner probably had his worst night in a Liverpool shirt, and so with the spine of the team playing like jelly, no wonder Wolves got the win and deservedly so.

I do wonder about some things in modern professional football. If Klopp doesn’t give a damn about the FA Cup, and he really didn’t seem up for this game on Monday (an attitude obviously spilling out on to the pitch), then why the heck should I? Liverpool don’t win many trophies these days (our last bits of silverware were won by the ladies’ team, and don’t get me started about their decline despite the best efforts of the likes of Scott Rogers and now Vicky Jepson), and to almost willingly deprive themselves of the opportunity is just a puzzle for me and I will never understand it. Nor will I ever accept the argument of resting players.

Still, for me the FA Cup is dead for 2018-19, I don’t care who does what in it now (although my sincere hope is that the winner plays Liverpool in the next Community Shield), roll on Kingstonian’s next FA Cup tie in the 2019-20 season, maybe this time the K’s will have a cup run. And there’s still this season’s Surrey Senior Cup!

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