Cambridge United attacker Harvey Knibbs has scooped the Papa John’s Trophy Player of the Round for the Round of 16.
The 22-year-old scored both second half goals in a 2-1 win over Portsmouth earlier in the month, as the Yellows booked their place in the Quarter-Finals, which get underway tomorrow evening.
However, despite being recognised as the standout performer from the round, he highlighted the importance of the team’s progression, beating the two-time Finalists and 2019 victors Pompey on the back of an FA Cup triumph over Newcastle United just days before.
“To get two goals and get noticed as the Player of the Round was nice on a personal level,” he said. “It came off the back of that win at St James’ on the Saturday and it’s very easy after those types of games to go back on the backburner. For the team to go again and get a big win against a strong Portsmouth team and put us in the Quarter-Final, it was a very good game."
Knibbs struck twice in the space of 10 minutes in the second period, after a goalless first half, to put Cambridge in the driving seat, but he was particularly pleased with the opening goal, which represented a first for the forward.
“I was telling everyone before that I haven’t actually scored more than a one-touch finish in my career,” he remarked. “Everything’s a header or a first-time finish. To get the left-foot shift and then right foot-finish outside the box was nice.”
Joining forces with veteran midfielder Wes Hoolahan, Knibbs headed in the second with an hour on the clock, setting Mark Bonner’s side well on their way to the Quarter-Final.
Portsmouth’s Michael Jacobs halved the deficit just 15 minutes later but Cambridge hung on for the victory.
“Playing with players like Wes, all you’ve got to do is make the movement and he’ll find you,” Knibbs reflected. “Watching the assist back for the second goal is just ridiculous. He crosses with the outside of his foot and manages to actually curl it inwards. It’s just different, isn’t it?”
It comes after Cambridge shot-stopper Kai McKenzie-Lyle claimed the Papa John’s Trophy Player of the Round for Round Two, with Knibbs becoming the second consecutive Yellows player to receive the accolade.
“With how Kai performed in the last round, it would have been criminal if he didn’t win the award,” he added. “He single-handedly got us through that game and allowed us to get to this round in the first place.”
Rotherham United stand in between Cambridge United and a place in the Semi-Final. Knibbs’ side travel to the AESSEAL New York Stadium tomorrow evening and, despite Rotherham’s impressive League form, the attacker believes Bonner’s men are more than ready for the Quarter-Final clash.
“I think I speak on behalf of all footballers when I say you always want to have a day at Wembley,” he noted. “To have that this season, which has already been very special, would be unbelievable. Now that we’re only a few rounds away from Wembley, that’s kind of on everyone’s minds, so we want to get there. It’s inspired us for the next game against Rotherham.
“We've played them twice already in the League this season. Both games we actually played very well but didn’t get any points to show for how we played. We’re just hoping that it will all come together in this game and we actually progress.”