Mildenhall Town 1 – Saffron Walden 0
I do love a Tuesday evening match in August, with the sun beaming down, and the beer flowing. Sadly that was not the case last night. The rain had not stopped since 2pm. So armed with my waterproof and brolly, I headed off to Mildenhall.
I had not been to Mildenhall for many years, well since they stopped the Air Fete. I had been looking forward to the match since 5pm on Saturday. Not that I am obsessed or anything!
I arrived at the ground about 45 minutes before kick off, and was instantly impressed by the quality of the grass. Full credit must be given to the grounds keeper and his colleagues. I met up first with Lee and had a chat about how unlucky we were against Felixstowe and Walton. I went to find Paul Daw to get the team sheet, and to my surprise, was invited into the officials lounge for a cup of tea. My moment had come, and I was now unofficially part of the hierarchy! Well for one game anyway. If I would have known I would have put a tie on.
After my tea and biscuits it was almost time for kick off. The rain had stopped and looked like it would hold off. Surely we could get some points in the league?
Wardley made one change from Saturday’s loss. Croll was in goal. Defence: P Abbott, Reid, Lawrence (Beast) and Solkhon. Midfield: Bell, Murphy (Boss), Snelling (Mashy) and Noble. Forwards: Calver (Wiggy) and Gregory. Subs: Fleming, M Abbott, Turner, Grinrod, Harper.
We started the match kicking downhill. Mildenhall started the game well and kept the ball. The first Mildenhall threat was an early free kick, which Bell headed clear. Their number 2, David Cooper went for a ‘Worldy’ but the ball sailed over the bar.
Within 5 minutes, Mildenhall had scored. They had a free kick from the right side of the pitch. Solk’s was pushed over and fell on the ball. It was a very harsh decision. The goal was scored by Luke Butcher. I think that was his name, but please correct me if I am wrong. I was too busy stamping my feet at the time. It was well deserved from great early pressure.
We did start to up our game, when Wiggy made an excellent challenge to stop a Mildenhall attack. He stood up well and managed to get the ball to Bell, who made a successful run and won a throw on.
During this time Joe ‘The Boss’ Muphy left the pitch. I had no idea he had left and was wondering what was going on. He soon jogged back on. Phew!
Snelling (Mashy) was up to his usual tricks and made a great run, 10 minutes into the match. He passed to Wiggy, who took on the right back. Wiggy got in his cross, but was cleared by Mark Shadrack.
We almost went 2-0 down, as a result of great play from Mildenhall. Bell ran back and cleared the ball off the line for a corner. It was a fantastic block. Bell is now showing he is back to full fitness. The corner was whipped in and well saved by Croll.
15 minutes in and we were struggling. The main threat from Mildenhall came from Cooper and the skilful Kelvin Elnard. Elnard’s speed on the ball was like lightning.
20 minutes in and Mashy showed some of his skills. He found Wiggy in space, who passed it back to Mashy. Mashy turned well and passed the ball to the sprinting Bell. Bell did get a cross in but no one was home. Walden had now upped their game.
Murphy found himself in the book for a slide tackle.
We continued to pressure Mildenhall, with a free kick taken by Reid. Reid delivered a dangerous ball, but it was headed out for a corner to Walden. The corner was taken long by Bell. The Beast managed to get his head on the ball, but the keeper caught it.
The Beast was doing his Captain duties, by barking orders at his defence to put in a tackle. Soon after, he made a great challenge to deny Mildenhall a shooting opportunity.
Our best effort of the half came from a great run from Solkhon, and link up play with Bell. Bell crossed the ball in long, which was slightly too high for Mashy.
The match started to get gritty with slide challenges from both teams. The ground was slippery with both benches calling for fouls.
Sam and Wiggy worked hard creating more chances. 30 minutes into the game Wiggy took on his man and got into the box. He hit the ball across the danger zone, but Mashy was about 1 second too late.
Mildenhall did react and were awarded 2 back to back corners, which were handled well by the defence.
Not long after some more pressure from the Bloods, Mildenhall’s star, Enaro broke free. Wiggy chased him back and put in an incredible tackle. If he had timed it slightly wrong, Enaro would have gone flying. While this was going on Solkon went down holding his hamstring. He couldn’t continue and was replaced by Turner ‘G Man’. Turner started well with a great run and tackle to snub out the pressure.
Mildenhall continued to pile on the pressure and crossed the ball into the mixer. We defended well and Mildenhall had a corner. The corner was well collected by Kroll.
We hadn’t given up on scoring in the first half, when Gregory made a great solo run into the box. Unfortunately at pace, he kicked the ball at himself and it went off for a goal kick.
First half ended Mildenhall 1 – Bloods 0. An improvement was needed if we were going to get back in the game.
I was feeling good about the second half, and knew the Bloods would come out fighting. Every game we have played so far, we have refused to let our heads drop.
Laurence (Beast) was replaced by Fleming. Laurence had been suffering for sinusitis and did well to get through the first half. Rest up Beast and come out fighting for the FA Cup game.
Mildenhall started with most of the possession, and their number 6, Callum Kearns had a great shot, which was well saved by Croll.
Mildenhall continued to push for the second, with the rain pouring. We decided to wimp out and sit in the stand.
Our first good effort came from The Boss. He broke well and made a great run up the middle, he managed to get a shot in from 30 yards out, but the keeper saved it.
The rain had stopped, so we went back behind the goal. I was feeling better, now we were in our rightful place.
After 10 minutes Croll pulled off the best save I have seen all season. Again Enaro was causing us grief, and got his cross in. The ball was fired at goal, and Croll dived and pushed the ball away. The Mildenhall fans clapped in appreciation for such a brilliant stop.
Soon after the heroics of Croll, Mashy had a nice run and passed to Wiggy. Wiggy took a shot which was curling, but the keeper saved it. It felt that since Croll made that save, we started to play with more confidence.
Much better play continued from Walden. Wiggy won a free kick near the corner. The corner came in and the referee blew his whistle. We were not sure if it was off side or a foul on the keeper.
Gregory had a great run and flicked the ball over the defender. As he went to shoot, his shot was blocked. I believed if we carried on like this, we could sneak a draw.
The Boss was replaced by Mark Abbott. Boss had played well again, and is continuing his good form for the season.
25 minutes to go and Graham moved up to his preferred attacking role, with Spike dropping back to left back. He made a great run up the right hand wing but his cross was well saved by Pope. Pope did stumble the ball, but in the end caught it.
30 minutes in and Mildenhall should have been 2-0 up. They had a clear chance on goal, but lifted it over the cross bar for a conversion. The Mildenhall fans where not happy, as that was a clear chance to see off the game.
Croll made another fantastic save from Enaro. After all these great saves, it was starting to look like we may just get back into this.
Turner retaliated with a decent effort. He chased down the ball, which deflected off the centre back. Turner got in front of the centre back, but his volleyed effort went over the bar. It was as a great bit of skill to get into the shooting position.
Mildenhall continued to push for a second, but they were no match for the Bloods defence. This was much better play.
Turner had another great chance. He worked hard to get into the box. He had a shot on goal but decided to pass it to Wiggy. Wiggy’s shot was cleared off the line. Turner kicked himself for not having a go himself. Head up G. You are getting better each game. I would like to see him start next week, alongside Gregory and Wiggy.
We continued to work hard and Wiggy made a fantastic run. The defenders could not get the ball off him. His ball was passed to Turner. Turner scored but was off side.
We had more attempts, and were getting the ball in the mixer a lot more than the first half. The ball just did not drop well enough for a clear shot. Mildenhall got in well and refused to let us score. The matched finished Mildenhall 1 – Walden 0
I am pleased we came out fighting in the second half. Considering the only goal came in the first 5 minutes, we did well not to let them increase the gap.
For me, the fans ‘Man of the Match’ has gone to Floyd Croll. Croll made some incredible saves, which gave us a chance to get back into the match. Well done Floyd and hopefully you will have a quieter match on Saturday.
Personally I would like to thanks the Mildenhall staff, and the fans for making us feel very welcome. All the fans were mixed together and showing respect for one another. That is how football should be. There is nothing wrong with a bit of banter, as long as that’s how far it goes.
Next we have a tough match against Cheshunt in the FA Cup, on Saturday the 29th August. Let’s hope for a massive crowd, better weather and, most importantly, a win.
Thank you for reading.