Droitwich Spa 4 – 3 Knowle
LUKE MOLLOY’S late second half strike was enough to guide Droitwich Spa to an entertaining, but narrow, 4-3 victory over high-flying Knowle at the King George Playing Fields.
Despite being pegged back twice from 2-0 and 3-2 up respectively, the Saltmen showed great character to keep going an earn a vital win over their Solihull-based visitors who got on the scoresheet through Torryn Connolly (2) and Ben Ellicott.
Nick Seabourne netted twice in the victory with Haydn Morris also finding the back of the net in front of a 98-strong crowd.
After the heartbreak of losing on penalties to Barnt Green Spartak in the quarter-finals of the Presidents Cup last Saturday (January 7) in a 3-3 after extra-time thriller, Spa got off to the perfect start as it took all of three minutes for them to take the lead.
A poor clearance from Knowle keeper Spencer Dixon landed at the feet of Seabourne who made no mistake from 30 yards out as he accurately lofted the ball home into an empty net.
Sixteen minutes later another poor kick from Dixon allowed Spa to double their advantage as Bradley Burgess whipped in a delightful cross which landed at the feet of Morris who powered the ball into the back of the net from no more than 12 yards.
With the game looking already out of reach for the visitors, Spa continued to have the majority of the chances as Molloy fired wide after 25 minutes before a deflected effort from Seabourne crashed against the crossbar four minutes later.
Despite their slow start, the away side grew into the game and after the Saltmen gave away a cheap free-kick on the edge of the area, Ellicott reduced the arrears as he found the top left-hand corner with the help of the underside of the crossbar.
The goal rejuvenated what looked to be a despondent Knowle outfit and just two minutes before the interval they found themselves on level terms.
Ben Cranage made his way into the Spa penalty area with ease before his attempt at goal deflected into the path of Connolly who could not miss from the centre of goal.
After the break, Spa somehow missed the chance take a 3-2 lead after 51 minutes as Seabourne saw his header from Jamie Smith’s corner cleared off the line before Burgess could only fire the rebound off the woodwork.
Morris then saw a shot tipped round the post a minute later but that was as good as it got for the Saltmen as they struggled to find that killer touch against a Knowle outfit who were looking a threat on the counter.
However, after 68 minutes Wayne Oliver’s and Mark Owen’s Spa regained the lead as some great free-flowing football saw Burgess break free on the right wing before whipping in a delicious ball which Seabourne poked home.
Knowle though, would not give up and their persistent efforts on the counter-attack soon reaped its rewards as with ten minutes to go they levelled the game for the second time of the afternoon.
Connolly made himself some space on the left before cutting inside and powering home a low effort which Spa keeper Matt Oliver will feel he should have kept out.
But a minute later his mistake was quickly forgiven as the Saltmen nosed themselves into a 4-3 lead following a wonderful Smith set-piece.
His deep free-kick from just inside the Knowle half met Burgess at the back post who claimed his hat-trick of assists after crossing to Molloy who slotted home to send the home fans into ecstasy.
Despite a late Knowle onslaught, Spa held on for an all-important three points to keep them well in the hunt for promotion from Midland League Division Two.