Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Bloods 0 - Jockeys 2

Saffron Walden 0 – Newmarket Town 2

11th August 2015

If I could describe the match in one word I would say ‘frustrating’. Again we were on the wrong side of a 2-0 loss.

As always, I was looking forward to the match and especially returning home to the Meadows. I got the chance to use my season ticket for the first time! I was even sad enough to take a picture outside the ground with my friend John who had not been to the lane for 20 years. It was great to be back and to see the usual crowd and we were all raring for the game to start. We had a fantastic attendance of 254, which was the highest in the league that night. The second highest crowd was Gorleston at 127.

I had some nice comments about the blog and also a lot of banter for using my Dictaphone. Nothing like a bit of banter in the North stand! #crowdbanter #loyalfans #bloodsfamily

As the players lined up, we waited by the club house to see which way we would be facing. We lost the toss and ended up facing the Catons Lane end. This is never a good sign as we usually opt to play the first half facing the playing field.  So off we went to take our rightful place behind the goal. Nigel had brought the new flag with him and we tied it to the railings. Thurlow Nunn Premier League, we have arrived.

The match started lively and Walden did look the better side. Mashy got the fans going with a great run, which was followed by a brilliant turn from Wiggy, which warmed the Newmarket keeper up. If we kept this up the Newmarket keeper and defence were going to be in for a long night. I must mention that the keeper had socks which matched the colour of ‘Nemo’ from the film Finding Nemo. As you can image the banter started quite early on, but he remained professional and didn’t bite back.

Newmarket had started to get back into the game and had a decent chance from a free kick which went over the bar. This was all in 7 minutes.

The early link up play between the 3 forwards; Sam Gregory, Craig Calver and Jamie Thomas was working well. Wiggy was playing quite deep in the middle and feeding passes to Jamie and Sam. Jamie had a great chance from a pass from Wiggy that went over the bar.

Newmarket started to pile on the pressure with a decent volleyed effort which went wide. The play continued when, unfortunately, the Bloods lost the ball to the Newmarket striker, who found his team mate and he slotted home. It was a great goal, but we didn’t deserve to be 1 down after some excellent work from the Bloods.

The lads didn’t let their heads drop and continued to battle for an equaliser. Wiggy produced some great wing play to set Jamie Noble, but his shot went over the bar.

Sam Gregory dominated the right wing and produced some excellent crosses. He had the left back in his pocket a few times, but credit to Newmarket they held the line well and would not let us test the keeper.

Sam also produced another great cross from the wing and cut inside but as he crossed the ball there was no one to meet it. We were starting to look very good. This gave the wing backs more room to bring the ball forward. Jamie Solken made a great run and was really getting stuck in.

Solken got himself booked for a tackle on the Newmarket forward which resulted in a Newmarket free kick. Luckily the free kick sailed over the bar.

The Bloods were determined to get back into it and Max Crane started getting further forward. He took a knock for his troubles but shook it off and carried on.

The last big effort of the half came from Jamie Thomas who made a great run and shot, but Newmarket’s number 3 made a great block. We went in 0-1 at half time but that all important first goal, was looking closer.

The 2nd half started like the first. The Bloods came out all guns blazing. We continued to pile on the pressure and were moving the ball around the park well but I spoke too soon.

As the fans started thinking we would get back into the game, the Newmarket winger made an excellent run up the left wing. I was willing Paul Abbot to pull off one of his quality slide tackles, but he got slightly beaten for pace. The cross came in, with the Bloods defender running in to clear the ball and the Newmarket striker trying to score. Unfortunately the ball came off Solks and ended up beating Croll to make it 0-2. It was not anyone’s fault as the ball was whipped in at such pace; it was just unlucky.

Even after that own goal we didn’t lose faith and the crowd continued to cheer and will the Bloods on. Our hard work continued through some more great play.

Jamie Solken got his head on the end of a great cross which confused the keeper and set up Ryan Flemming. The keeper recovered well and caught the ball from Ryan’s effort.  We, as fans, appreciated the fact that the players refused to give up.

Newmarket did start to up their game and played with composure. We have to remember that this team finished 6th in the Premier League last year, which is a great effort. I would take that this year all day long.

Wardley made some changes after an hour and brought on Joe Murphy for Mashy and Spike Bell for Max Drane. Max and Mashy played well throughout.

Spike and Joe made a great impact. Joe got stuck in and produced some great tackles and Spike worked very hard going forward and produced some great runs, showing off his strength and skills.

Wiggy produced the best shot and chance of the match. He pushed the ball onto his right foot and smashed it at the cross bar. The keeper didn’t have a chance if it was slightly lower.  I think the cross bar is still buzzing now.

One of the fans favourite Shaun Avis was introduced to the match late on to try and get us back in the game. His fan club were in full voice chanting his name. It’s how I would imagine a One Direction concert would be. It’s great to see the young Bloods fans cheering on their favourite players and making up songs to sing. Where would you get that type of support in Thurlow Nunn leagues? If it exists, I am yet to witness it.

We had a few attempts near the end but just could not find the back of the net. Jamie Thomas tried one from long range but it went wide. One thing about all our strikers is that no one is afraid to have a go.

As I drove home thinking about the match I tried not to dwell on the loss. Sticksy has some work to do but it will come. I am glad I don’t have his job! I think we just need that first goal and we can build on that confidence.

Fan’s man of the match was not a unanimous decision. We had the following suggestions - Wiggy, Jamie Solken, Jamie Thomas, Sam Gregory. But I have to stick with my first choice and Man of the Match goes to Sam Gregory.

Jonathan Scripps

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