Diss 1 – Saffron Walden 1
After I realised my blog had over five hundred views in less than a week, I thought l I’d better up my game. I dug out my Dictaphone from the drawer that my Dad had bought me for Christmas. I had a few trials at recording and was expecting a bit of banter from the fans on Saturday.
So, armed with my new Dictaphone and scarf, I took down the roof of my MX5 and off I went to Diss. The ground was slightly outside of Diss and my battery was fading fast on my phone. I was using the phone as a Sat Nav and was willing it to hold on in there until I got to the ground. I arrived and paid my £2 entry, which was a bargain. The pitch had been well looked after and was in great condition. The tea and chips for the ground were great and I think Kenny may have some competition.
I met up with Peter and had a chat. He told me that we had 5 of our team missing. That didn’t bother me as it gives Walden a chance to adapt their play and use different strategies. The Bloods are a team and not based around a single player. It’s always good practice because during the season there will be people missing due to holidays, injury or sickness. I hope that does not jinx things.
The game started positively with some great passing by the midfield. Joe Murphy and Louis Harper bossed the centre and fed some great passes to Peter Davis and Dan Grindrod, who tested the Diss wing backs.
Diss did look threatening and broke well. They had a corner in the first 5 minutes which Floyd Croll took well. The first half saw some excellent link up play from the Walden defence. Ryan Fleming and Jake Noble would instruct the midfield when to turn from a pass they would make. Max Drane made some great turns to set up the forward play.
As the match went on, Walden had some great chances. Grindrod, Avis, Solken, Murphy and Davies all came close to scoring. The Diss centre backs played well and the goal keeper kept them on their toes, even if he did sound like he suffered from Tourette’s. As we would say at home, ‘Keep it down for the kids’!
Near the end of the first half, I thought Grindrod was going to score. He had the ball at his feet at the penalty spot but four defenders surrounded him and he had nowhere to go. He managed to get the ball forward to Peter Davis, but Peter was caught off side, which I complained about as I didn’t think he was and the Diss left back hand balled it.
The first half ended 0-0 and Walden were the better side. I said to Grindrod as he came off the pitch that his goal was coming as he had worked tirelessly throughout the first half. In my opinion it was the best I have seen him play for a while.
The second half started like the first half with Walden pressing for the first goal. Diss also piled on pressure and looked better in the 2nd half. Chris Reid used some great skill to bring the ball out from the box. The Diss players had two or three missed tackles until one of them caught him and conceded a free kick. When you stand behind the goal it is hard to see all the great work which comes out of our solid back 4.
Walden made two changes after sixty minutes. Grindrod made way for Charlie Woolf, who is currently on loan from Cambridge Utd. Chris Reid was also replaced by manager Stuart Wardley. Both players put in an excellent shift.
Charlie instantly made a difference on the right wing. He has very good skills and is very sharp. It was good to see his link up play with Avis. They were both supported well with the midfield and wing backs pushing up.
Walden had a great chance from a corner but the keeper made an excellent catch and held on to the ball very well. The physio was asked to come on, in case he had banged his head, but after little fuss he was straight back up.
Walden’s game play changed slightly. Noble, Wardly and Flemming would produce some good long balls for Avis and Woolf to run on to.
Finally the goal came from a great cross and brilliant control from Avis under pressure. He carefully slotted the ball under the keeper and into the back of the net. I listened back to my notes on the Dictaphone and had to laugh. I was recording as the cross came in and Avis scored. It sounded something like this; ‘Great cross came in to Avis, Go on Avo, GO ON AVO, YEEESSS, MY SON!’ I am such a professional reporter.
After the goal it all got a little shirty. The Diss players complained a lot to the referee and were having a pop at some of the Walden players. I know that it was out of frustration as they had played really well to deny Walden of more goals.
Diss did pile on the pressure and I would have been worried had it been a league match. Right at the death that pressure paid off and Diss scored from a rebound off the cross bar. I could see it coming but I thought Walden played excellently throughout the game and we took a lot of positives from the match.
As the players came off, they looked really disappointed that they didn’t win. But I was very impressed by the way they changed their play due to a few of the regulars missing. The communication was excellent between the defence and the midfield and they passed and controlled the ball with confidence. This is something that has improved since last season. They always say, if you keep the ball the other team can’t score.
Now it comes down to the fans ‘Man of the Match’. If it was based on the first half I would have given it to Dan Grindrod as he looked hungry. So many players played very well but, again as always, it came down to two, who were Ryan Fleming and Jake Noble for controlling the back line and working with the players around them. As it was a split decision I asked for a few of the fans to help me decide. In the end in came down to a vote. And the man of the match goes to new Blood Ryan Fleming.
So I guess the biggest question I ask is who is going to be in the starting 11 for Norwich?