First half blitz sees off the Knappers
A first half blitz saw the first team do enough to see off Knaphill, even though they played for 50 minutes with ten men.
Darren Salmon made five changes from the side that had drawn away at AFC Hayes, with recalls for Aaron Bogle, Anson Cousins, Matt Auletta, Matt Farell and Liam Holden, missing out were Danny Fernandez and Jeff Addo-Dankwa (both unavailable), Matt Tanton and Owen Davies (both dropping to the bench) and Dan Jones.
Knaphill started the brighter of the two sides, and almost split us open on five minutes when a decent ball by Timmy Taylor almost found Shaun Lyle, but Michael Eacott was off his line quickly to clear the danger. A minute later and keeper Aaron Bufton was forced into punching a Cousins cross away from the lurking Holden.
Marlon Rodney fired straight at Bufton, after good work from Cooper-Smith and Holden, whilst at the other end a free kick from deep by Jimmy Norman saw Bogle and Lyle compete for the ball, with Eacott grateful to pounce on the loose ball.
We took the lead on 14 minutes, capitalising on a couple of Knaphill mistakes. Full back Rob Parrott took a quick throw from a poor position to Bufton, his clearance only went to Cooper-Smith who found Holden and he curled home from the edge of the area for 1-0.
Knaphill responded positively, and a superb ball in from T.Taylor was crying out for someone to tap home the equaliser, but fortunately no-one was on the end of the delivery and we survived the scare.
Cousins released Cooper-Smith on 20 minutes but he was denied by a great save by Bufton who was off his line sharply, but four minutes later it was 2-0. Cooper-Smith found Auletta on the right, he turned full back Jack Leighton inside out before drilling the ball low beyond Bufton.
Eacott got down well on 27 minutes to gather a Lyle shot, and two minutes later Lyle did well again to set up Rob Kersley but his shot was well blocked by Cousins.
We increased our lead on 29 minutes when Asa Rixon-Nicholls found Rodney, who played a neat one-two with Holden before slotting beyond Bufton. Two minutes later and Knaphill were seemingly back in the contest.
A corner from the left wasn't dealt with by our backline and from the return ball into the area, Lyle poked home from close range making it 3-1.
Any thoughts that this might signal a comeback were ended just two minutes later when Auletta floated a ball into the area, Rixon-Nicholls challenged Bufton resulting in the ball coming loose, and Rixon-Nicholls reacted quickest to turn the ball home for 4-1.
The complexion of the game was changed though shortly before half time. Cooper-Smith found his way into the book for a foul on Parrott and then almost immediately found himself picking up a red card for violent conduct.
Half time came with us 4-1 up, and looking at consolidating as we moved into the second half.
Knaphill came out positively in the second half, knowing an early goal would make us face a nervy period, and on 50 minutes Parrott shot well wide of Eacott's left hand post. Josh Watkins and George Rowley then took a free kick quickly, giving the ball to Norman, but his shot was well off target.
Cousins conceeded a soft free kick on the edge of the area for a foul on T.Taylor, but the normally deadly Norman could only put his effort well wide of the target.
Darren Salmon made his first change on 55 minutes introducing the seemingly tireless Matt Ferdinando for Liam Holden to give us a bit more energy in the middle of the park.
Knaphill continued to put us under pressure, with Craig Hastings and Aaron Bogle both doing well to clear dangerous Norman crosses, just shy of the hour. With twenty minutes remaining, we made a double substitution with both Hastings and Auletta struggling with knocks being replaced by Matt Fairbrother and Owen Davies.
T.Taylor then saw his close range shot turned round the post by Eacott, as Knaphill continued to push for that goal that would give them a lifeline.
We went close to sealing the game on 78 minutes when Ferdinando did well on the right and fired over a dangerous low cross, which Fairbrother was just unable to convert, and Bufton did well to collect the delivery.
Knaphill did grab that lifeline on 79 minutes when we again failed to deal with a ball into the area and Rob Kersley poked home to give the visitors hope. Norman saw a free kick comfortably saved by Eacott and from the keepers long clearance, Ferdinando bought a good save out of Bufton low to his left.
Eacott saw yellow in the 84th minute for time-wasting, we looked to slow things down and see out the game. Two minutes later and a good run from deep by Watkins ended with a horrible shot, going well wide of the goal.
Norman almost gave Knaphill further hope on 87 minutes, but this time his curled free kick was superbly turned round the post by Eacott, and that pretty much ended Knaphill hopes, and gave us all three points