Sunday, 16 August 2015

Hadley FC 1 - Saffron Walden 2 - FA Cup

Hadley FC 1 Vs. Saffron Walden 2 – Road to Wembley – FA Cup Qualification round

15th August 2015 – 3 pm

There is something so special about the FA Cup, and the match did not disappoint.

We had it all; Cheers, Jeers, Fears and Beers…Especially Malcolm ‘Hop a long’ Nash who was very smiley (Mrs. Nash loves you really Malc).

We set off in the car and I was given the responsibility of flag carrier. It feels a bit like taking care of the class hamster for the half term break. The traffic was bad due to an accident on the M11 between Junction 7 and 6. So we got off at Junction 7 and decided to drive through Epping. We got to Potters Bar with 20 minutes to spare. I hope no one was seriously hurt in the accident.

Jon and I were greeted by Jackie and Malcolm Nash. It was good to see them at an away game, as they are usually helping out when the reserves have a home match. We had a job to do and we were going to do it.

Sticko was not available so Jason Maher took charge of the match and was assisted by debutant Rob Thurston. Jason had made a few changes from last week. The starting 11 were: Croll, P Abbot, Lawrence (Beast), Reid, Solkhon, Bell, Snelling (Mashy), Noble, M Abbot, Calver (Wiggy) and Gregory. Subs were; Souter, Murphy, Harper, Davies, Drane and Turner.

So as the lads came out, we took a gamble and walked behind the goal that Walden were facing. We got the flag tied and ready on the railings and yes you’ve guessed it, Hadley won the toss so we had to take the flag down and leg it around to the other end. As we secured the flag to the correct end Martin Johnson told me that we only need to win 12 more games and we lift the trophy. Now that’s optimism from the club’s Chairman.

We, as always, started the game really well and put Hadley under immediate pressure with a well delivered corner from Spike; the cross found Solkhon’s head but was straight at the keeper. Solks continued to worry the Hadley keeper with a great headed effort, which was saved by the out stretched finger tips of the keeper. The fans cheered in anticipation for the ball hitting the back of the net but, we were denied by a great save. We applauded Solks and the keeper for their efforts.

More pressure was thrown at Hadley. Wiggy was doing what he does best and using his dribbling skills to frustrate the defenders. Wiggy was in his usual position this week as the left CF.  His skills resulted in another corner taken by Mark Abbott.

After 10 minutes Hadley did start to get back into the game and won a corner, but Solk’s cleared the ball well. At this point we had at least 65% possession. The fans took the micky when I said that. I may be getting carried away with this blogging lark. I am secretly hoping Sky Sports will snap me up!

We continued to attack the goal. Sam Gregory showed some great skill and found Wiggy. Wiggy made a forward pass for the charging Solkhon, who was eventually tripped, and resulted in a free kick. The free kick was taken by M Abbott and Mashy got a shot in which was cleared by Hadley.

Hadley’s best player so far was their number 5 who did very well under pressure and shielded a few balls from our prowling forwards.

Hadley did up their game and had a good attempt but Reid got the better of the forward and headed clear.

20 minutes in and we had a throw on 5 metres from the corner flag. The fans called for Ben ‘The Beast’ Lawrence to produce one of his long throws. From now on Ben is known as ‘Beast’. Solks had a great attempt with his header but the keeper tipped it over for a corner. I would hate to be the poor Hadley defender trying to mark Solks.

A few minutes later Spike delivered another great cross for Solks who headed the ball down to Gregory. Sam looked off balance but corrected himself brilliantly and produced a great goal low and hard, beating the keeper. Well done Sam for getting your first competitive goal for the Bloods. As Oliver Twist once said “Please Sir, can I have some more?”

After the goal the fans got really excited and felt like our season was now up and running. I knew the first goal was what we needed.

Hadley didn’t back down and started to play better. They had a few good runs into our 18 yard box but Spike, Reid and The Beast cleared their lines well.

Soon after, Hadley’s number 9 had a great effort which was blocked and saved by Croll, who managed to keep on the ball.

28 minutes, Solks produced some great defending and didn’t allow the forward to produce a shot.

30 minutes, M Abbott curled in a great free kick from 40 yards, but Hadley played the offside trap to their advantage.

32 minutes, Hadley had a great effort on goal but shot wide of the post.

Both teams were looking for the next goal. Hadley kept pushing us but our defence played well and P Abbott didn’t panic on the right and played the ball well out of the danger zone, rather than hitting it down the park for safety.

40 minutes in to game and Sam Gregory took a knock. Last week’s man of the match was playing very well and we can’t afford to lose him to an injury. He shook it off and carried on. Sam is becoming a big fan favourite for the Bloods fans, and has really made his mark with the team.

 HT Hadley 0 – Bloods 1

As soon as the whistle went I wanted to take a picture of the fans behind the flag. I attempted to climb over the bar but could get my leg over and stacked it over the barrier. I can’t have the Twitter name @mrbeanlookalike without making a fool out of myself. The Johnson kids found it hilarious.  Joe Murphy took a great picture of all of us (see below).

For the second half the Bloods fans occupied the stand behind the goal. The stand was made of congregated metal sheets, which was very good for banging on when trying to rally the players on.

Hadley started the match better than they did the first half. They made a good ball for the attacker to run onto but Croll was quick out of the box and collected the ball. The local kids where giving Croll a bit of banter from behind the fence, trying to put him off when he took goal kicks. Now we would never do that! Honest!

Bloods second goal was a beaut. We won a throw on and the crowd once again were calling for ‘The Beast’ Ben Lawrence. In usual fashion he launched his throw into the box. Jake Noble timed his jump perfectly and floated the ball over the keeper into the back on the net. It was a great unstoppable goal for Nobby. Well done.

Soon after we went 0-2 up, Hadley scored from an excellent run into the box. The Bloods defender got a touch, but the ball flicked up in the air, and the striker volleyed the ball into the back of the net. Hadley started to build in confidence and was playing like a different team.

The Beast did very well under pressure and used some great foot work to clear the ball.

On the hour mark Mashy made way for Joe Murphy. Mashy had a great game and I have a feeling will score soon. We were under pressure and needed Murph to show his strength and keep possession. I am not saying Mashy didn’t, but Joe is a different player and Mayer needed to adapt his game play.

The Hadley pressure continued and we were getting nervous. They had a few good chances and one of them sailed over the bar. Beast and Reid communicated very well and Reid made a great block to deny Hadley.

Sam looked like he was still carrying a slight knock from the first half but carried on well. We didn’t want the new blood to be injured for the next match. He confirmed on Twitter last night that he was fine and would be back to full fitness against Clacton on Tuesday…Phew

Murphy looked sharp on the ball and made a great one two pass with Spike but Spike just couldn’t get his shot away.

The referee was starting to blow his whistle for every challenge. Jake Noble got booked for a slide challenge, which from where I was standing, looked like he took the ball. Maybe the referee saw something different. You must remember that fans are like customers and are always right.

Hadley was still looking dangerous, but the Bloods kept their cool, and responded with a great break by Wiggy who passed to Sam. Sam found Spike and then Spike passed it to P Abbott. Abbott crossed the ball to Solks who was denied by the Keeper. This was better from the Bloods.

25 minutes Jake Noble took either an elbow or a forearm in the face by Hadley’s number 8. The referee had no choice but to produce the red card and send the player off. Noble stayed down for a while which looked worrying. He soon got back up after some treatment from the bench. Maher decided not to follow in the footsteps on Jose Mourinho and allowed Noble to be treated!

The play continued with Gregory and Wiggy linking up well. Wiggy had a great shot but was denied by the post. It felt like the game was in slow motion as we watched the ball hit the post. Next time will be in the back of the net.

The Bloods used the extra player advantage well and we were unlucky not to go 1-3 up. The Hadley keeper produced a great save to prevent an own goal.

In the last 15 minutes Sam Gregory, who again played very well, was replaced by Graeme Turner. G man was greeted by a warm reception. It was the first time he had played for Walden since his knee injury back in May.

Hadley put a lot of pressure on Walden and really pressed us for the last 15 minutes. They were not giving up without a fight. The pacing from the Bloods fans had begun! It felt like an England penalty shootout! I was about to get Mrs. Nash a wet flannel for her head.

G Man made a great impact to the game and came very close to scoring. He made a nice run and played the ball to his right, away from the keeper. His shot was cleared by Hadley. Turner was frustrated but, considering he has not played competitive football for 3-4 months, he did very well.

In the last few minutes Mark Abbot was replaced by Louis Harper. Mark put in a great shift and delivered some brilliant free kicks. We just needed the fresh legs of Harper to help hold our lead.

The last few minutes were played in true FA Cup nail biting fashion. Hadley threw everything they had at us, but the defenders stood up well and refused to let Hadley back in. Overall it was a great performance from the team, who at times, were on the ropes, but didn’t give up. Jason and his assistants should be very proud of the team and the tactics they played.

The fans Man of the Match was a unanimous decision. Congratulations to Jamie Solkhon for his brilliant contribution to the game. He was very unlucky not to get on the score sheet but at the same time worked very hard defending. He gave 100% to the team.

So 3 hours later and 2 cups of tea the Hadley Vs. Walden blog is now complete. I hope you have enjoyed it.

Jonathan Scripps

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