n Poynton 1

n Knutsford 1

TOM Jackson’s second-half strike at Poynton ensures Knutsford start the new year at Egerton this Saturday on the back of a draw.

Reds’ point, leaving them 11th at the end of 2018, looked in jeopardy in the 83rd minute when a Mark Evans foul was adjudged to be inside the box.

Poynton striker Greg Mathers smashed his spot kick against the crossbar though.

Knutsford could reflect on a decent away point earned, having adapted their game to the conditions.

The small and heavy pitch was not conducive to fluent football.

Reds elected for 4-3-3 and a plan of hitting the ball forward into channels and then pressing hard.

Their tactics mostly worked, with Milan Thompson excelling alongside impressive midfielder George Riley.

Knutsford were on top for the most part but it was Poynton who broke the deadlock five minutes before the break.

Nathan Okome gave the ball away and with Knutsford’s defence too square a clever reverse pass allowed the quick-thinking Andrew Hurst to break free and finish well past Callum Spencer.

In a first period in which the visitors spent long periods in the Poynton half, Thompson hit a snapshot just over the bar, skimmed a header wide from an Evans free kick and had another effort tipped round the post by Nick Ward.

Right-back Mike Cartner made several good crosses into the box but Poynton were defending well.

Jackson went close from a Thompson cross, while at the other end Spencer saved well from a 25-yard effort by Mathers before being booked for a foul committed outside his area.

Poynton seemed content to defend deep in the second half as Knutsford pressed and recovered lost ball.

From a Jackson cross, Evans went close and was found again by Cartner but his shot rose over the bar.

As both sides tired on the heavy pitch Knutsford were rewarded for their efforts and endeavour.

Jackson was first to arrive in the box to meet a deep cross from Riley before slotting left-footed beneath advancing goalkeeper Nick Ward in the 70th minute.

Thompson made a great run down the right going past three defenders but ran out of space as the ball was cleared for a corner.

That proved to be Reds’ last chance before the relief of Poynton’s penalty miss.

They start 2019 with 10 league games remaining, starting at neighbours Egerton on Saturday, kick-off 2pm.

Knutsford: Spencer (GK), Cartner, Davis, Wilbraham, Spilsbury, Evans, Riley, Okome, Clayton (West), Thompson (Schofield), Jackson (Croft).