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MATCH VERDICT AND PHOTO GALLERY: New look in opening loss for Knights




Craig Smith's clinical hat-trick sent Pinchbeck United to a derby defeat.

The new-look Knights got back on level terms through last season's top scorer Ollie Maltby at the start of the second half.

But two goals in a three-minute spell effectively ended any chance of some reward for Ian Dunn's side from the opening league game.

Peterborough Northern Star struck twice in the second half
Peterborough Northern Star struck twice in the second half

Maltby and goalkeeper Ricky Lovelace were the only members of the line-up on Friday night who had started the Hinchingbrooke Cup final at the Branch Bros Stadium in the last fixture of the 2018-19 programme.

Pinchbeck returned to the home of Peterborough Northern Star with a squad which shows potential - despite a lack of experience.

Individually, the Knights produced some good performances. Collectively, they didn't quite click where it really counts in the final third of the pitch.

Dunn was right to complain over a number of poor decisions by referee Richard King which certainly didn't help either.

However, there is more work to be done for Pinchbeck to repeat last season's fourth-place finish on their Premier Division debut.

Lovelace was much busier than former Knights number one Dan Swan who never suffered a league defeat during his spell with Pinchbeck in the Division One championship campaign.

Smith poked in the opening goal after only five minutes following a mix-up between Lovelace and Will Nuttell.

Craig Smith celebrates the opener
Craig Smith celebrates the opener

Another chance was hooked over by Star's number nine then strike partner Ewan Fieldhouse wasted an even better opportunity against his former club following a weak header by Dan Worthington.

Lovelace tipped over Fieldhouse's header and moments later he pushed out Matt Cox's shot in a goalmouth scramble from Matt Barber's corner.

Smith raced clear, only to be denied by Lovelace, and the rebound was knocked wide by Fieldhouse.

Those saves and misses looked to be key moments, particularly when Maltby made it 1-1 with a right-foot volley into the bottom corner of the net.

1-1
1-1

Joe Bates forced Swan into a save for the second time while Connor Eyes and Patrik Kacirek had earlier failed to hit the target.

Knights captain Nick Bishop's penalty appeal for a push in the back was dismissed before the break.

A strong tackle on Maltby around the edge of the 18-yard box was also unpunished following Smith's quickfire double.

A far-post header restored Star's advantage and Smith rolled the ball into the empty net when he went past Lovelace's sliding challenge.

PETERBOROUGH NORTHERN STAR

3-5-2: Swan; Cox, Rodden, L Smith; Panting, Wilson, Blanchard, Dunn, Bloodworth (sub Barber 23 mins); C Smith (sub Brookes 79 mins), Fieldhouse (sub Mann 69 mins). Subs not used: Saunders, Henson.

PINCHBECK UNITED

4-2-3-1: Lovelace; Gordon, Worthington, Ross, W Nuttell (sub Gaukroger 67 mins); Newman, Bishop; Bates, Eyes (sub J Nuttell 62 mins), Kacirek (sub Rivett 69 mins); Maltby. Subs not used: Esteves, Dementer.

REFEREE

Richard King.

GOALS

C Smith (5 mins, 1-0); Maltby (47 mins, 1-1); C Smith (62 mins, 2-1);
C Smith (65 mins, 3-1).

BOOKINGS

Newman, Bates (unsporting behaviour).

ATTENDANCE

119

STAR MAN

Ricky Lovelace - much busier than former Knights number one Dan Swan at the other end. A series of first-half saves kept Pinchbeck in the game - although he left an empty net for the final goal. Needs better protection over the next few weeks.

WHO'S NEXT

Sleaford Town (H) - Wednesday.



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