Knaresborough Town boss Paul Stansfield happy with progress despite recent lean spell

Knaresborough Town's Rob Worrall flies into a challenge during Saturday's loss at Worksop Town. Picture: Craig Dinsdale
Knaresborough Town's Rob Worrall flies into a challenge during Saturday's loss at Worksop Town. Picture: Craig Dinsdale

Knaresborough Town manager Paul Stansfield said he is still more than satisfied with his team's progress this term, despite their recent lean spell.

The Manse Lane outfit made a fine start to life in the NCEL Premier Division following their promotion at the end of last season and have been very much in contention for promotion until the last couple of weeks.

Beaten 5-0 by Thackley in their previous outing, Boro were then went down 4-1 at Worksop Town on Saturday, meaning they have now won just once in their last eight matches.

"There's no need to panic, the last two results have been disappointing, but I'm happy with how we've done overall this season," he said.

"The Thackley loss was a freak really. We had just as many chances as them, but they were more clinical, while Worksop are a very good side who are absolutely flying at the moment.

"Our start [to 2018/19] raised expectations, however it would be naive to think that we could get promoted into this division and then go straight up again when you compare our resources and budget to a lot of the other teams we're up against.

"We're doing really well with what's at our disposal and this season was always going to be a learning curve. I've told the players that we've just got to work harder and stick to our beliefs and we'll get where we want to be in the end."

Although he conceded that Worksop deserved to win Saturday's encounter, Stansfield doesn't believe that the scoreline accurately reflects how the match unfolded.

"I don't think it was a 4-1 game, but fair play to Worksop, they were more ruthless than we were," he added.

"They're on a great run and they're favourites to win this league for a reason. When you've got that kind of momentum, things tend to go for you, just like they did for us when we won six on the bounce earlier in the season.

"They were really physical and stronger than us. We lost the battle, which is frustrating because being competitive is something I pride myself on so we'll have to look at it and see what we can do to improve in that area."

Boro did perform better than during their loss to Thackley, but still found themselves second best to an in-form Worksop team who came into the fixture unbeaten in 10 matches and having won seven on the bounce.

Jack Rushworth had to make two early saves in quick succession, then saw the Tigers fire against his cross-bar and hit the follow-up wide, all in the space of ten seconds.

At the other end, Adam Baker's shot was saved by David Reay following the first meaningful Knaresborough attack, but Worksop then went ahead in the 24th minute.

A throw-in from the left wing was only partially cleared and Matthew Sykes was able to smash home a fine volley.

The score was doubled in the 39th minute when a move down the right looked to have been stalled by Gregg Anderson’s late challenge, but the referee played advantage and the ball was worked across for Steven McDonnell to finish.

A third goal nearly arrived in first-half stoppage-time, Danny Patterson firing just over Rushworth’s bar from long range.

Knaresborough began the second period with more conviction and Baker saw his excellent volley tipped over the bar by Reay and Anderson headed over from the resultant corner.

Rushworth then made a fine low stop to keep out another Sykes effort before Worksop added number three in the 76th minute.

The visitors lost possession and Craig Mitchell then robbed Will Lenehan before rounding Rushworth and slotting home.

Boro then created two good chances, but Brad Walker fired wide from a Ben Cohen centre and Luke Stewart hit the cross-bar after Sam Cook headed back a Rob Worrall corner from the left.

Another quick break at the opposite end of the field sent substitute Lynton Karkach, free and he made it 4-0 with 86 minutes on the clock.

Rushworth saved again from Ross Goodwin before Boro's Jack Carr grabbed a late consolation when his persistence saw him regain possession on the right before cutting inside and delivering a cross than was deflected into his own net by a home defender in 94th minute.

Defeat leaves Stansfield's men 7th in the Premier Division standings ahead of Saturday's home clash with Barton Town, 3pm kick-off at Manse Lane.