Knowle ran out comfortable winners against Bartley Green Illey FC from the 2nd Division of the West Midlands League in the first round of the Birmingham Vase.
Knowle introduced two new players who both had extremely promising debuts. Callum Carsley and Luke Hennessy were into their stride quickly as Knowle were awarded a penalty after 10 minutes, but the linesman was waving frantically as he had spotted some foul play in the Knowle half.
Liam Ashmore was shown a straight red and the penalty cancelled. However, Knowle were not to be denied as they took the lead when Roz Kane headed in after smart work from Jimmy Anderson on the left.
With Matt Botley having a fine season, it was only a matter of time before he began to terrorise the Bartley defence. First, a lob was well saved, then a through ball was only inches away from him – but his third effort was expertly despatched.
Knowle’s goal had hardly seen any pressure so on 30 minutes it came out of the blue as the advancing left-back hit a cracker from 30 yards which crashed against keeper Chris Knott’s bar. When Carsley rolled the ball into Botley’s feet inside the box, in one touch he spun and volleyed past the keeper for 3-0. That made it 10 goals in nine games for Botley.
The second half saw Knowle in cruise control with the highlight being a Jimmy Anderson free-kick on the hour which forced a fine save. With Tom Craine hitting top form, he had two strong runs at goal but a third effort brought the crowd to its feet. He outpaced his marker in thrilling style then coolly placed the ball wide of the keeper.
Matty Foyle and Kane proved too strong all afternoon in the centre of the park, while young Hennessy had two mazy runs before unleashing typical defenders’ shots each time!
Nick Oakley also deserves mention for the way he brought calmness to the back four in the wake of the sending-off.