Sunday, 9 August 2015

Norwich United 2 Saffron Walden 0

This was the match we had all been waiting for. Norwich dominated last season and won the league by 22 points. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I was eager to see how invincible Norwich could be and how the Bloods would fare. For a club who did so well I expected there to be more fans. It was a shame as they are very good team with a glowing reputation.

Jon and I set off at 12.30pm with the roof down and the sun blazing. We heard that there had been an accident on the A11 so I was glad we left when we did. We had a little traffic on the A47 due to road works but got to the ground at 2.30pm. When we got to there I heard that we had just signed a new player called Jamie Thomas. He had rave reviews from when he played against us for Harlow XI, so I was interested in seeing what he could do.

Bloods started the match very well and showed Norwich they were not to be taken lightly. Greg Strong lived up to his surname. He was not allowing Norwich to play. I would say he won at least 80% of his headers. He made a great partnership with Ryan Fleming who again worked very well at passing the ball. Within 15 minutes the Bloods threatened the Norwich defence by winning a free kick. By this time I knew the gloves were off and we wouldn’t be put off by their reputation for beating teams 6 or 7 nil.

Sam Gregory and Jamie Thomas linked up very well with a fantastic turn by Sam which resulted in a free kick which Mark Abbot took. It didn’t result in the goal we needed but it showed that we were not afraid to go toe to toe with the champs.

19 minutes in Norwich had a corner. Sam Gregory got the ball and instead of just punting it down the pitch he made a fantastic break. He made a great long pass to Jamie Thomas but the ball got away from him and rolled on for a goal kick.

25 minutes in Norwich made a great break up the left wing. Paul Abbott stuck to him like glue and made a fantastic and brave slide tackle, which was timed to perfection.

At this point we had at least 60% possession and the fans were really getting behind the Bloods. I was so pleased with the way the lads were playing. Walden looked like they belonged in the Premier League. Confidence was growing and Jamie Solken started to dart forward in his usual fashion.

Near the end of the first half Sam Gregory continued to work well with Jamie Thomas creating chances, but just couldn’t find the back of the net. Through their hard work he set Louis Harper who hit the bar. If the bar had been 6 inches lower, the Norwich keeper would have been picking the ball out of the net.

At the last minute of the first half the keeper lost control and the ball spun over him. We watched the ball almost cross the line, but then number 2 slid in and cleared the ball. Unfortunately their number 2 ‘Jamie Speller’ kicked the ball and the post, which resulted in a nasty cut. The Walden fans shouted at the ref so he would get him medical attention. We all waited after the half time whistle for Speller to be taken off and congratulated him for his amazing clearance and taking one for the team. #respectfulfans

We started the 2nd well. Norwich did up their game and passed the ball well and managed to get their hit man Matt Blake involved more. This pressure resulted in a very suspect goal for Matt Blake. The assistant referee originally put his flag out for off side, so in theory, the goal shouldn’t have counted. However the referee over-ruled his decision and gave the goal. As you can image we yelled abuse at the ref for not trusting in his assistants.

20 minutes into the 2nd half Norwich made a sub and started to play much better, making it hard for us to get back into the game. Spike Bell came on for Louis Harper to try and get some speed and strength going forward. Spike made some good runs and we started to get going again. Louis had another great game and was unlucky not to open his 2015/16 account.

Sam smashed a ball from about 20 yards out which the keeper saved theatrically. As we say ‘One for the cameras’ which made the Norwich defence laugh.

Joe Murphy came on for Mark Abbot who had worked very hard all game.

We were not giving up and kept trying to come forward. Sam Gregory got hit in the face by the ball at full pelt. I bet that hurt in the morning. He shook it off and carried on.

Just after that Norwich scored a very nice goal from Matt Blake. Croll tried his best to get there but it was just too powerful.  I realised it would take something special to get us back in the game. If I am honest we felt the player’s heads had dropped slightly after we were robbed by the referee for the first goal.

10 minutes to go and the final substitution was Matt ‘Mashy’ Snelling for Shaun Avis. Mashy played very well throughout the game and should be pleased with his performance. Unfortunately the damage was already done and in my opinion Avis was brought on too late which made it hard for him to get into the game.  As always he did his best.

Our last big effort came from Ryan Fleming who came close from 40 yards. The ball went just over the bar. Had that gone in it would have been a ‘Worldy’.

The final whistle went and the lads look very disappointed and felt robbed. I personally think if Norwich’s suspect goal had of be disallowed, we would of came away with a 0-0 draw.

One thing I know as a result of this game and how well we played, we are here to stay!

Fan’s ‘Man of the Match’ went to Jamie Thomas who looks like a great player. He worked very hard and played very well, especially for a debut against the best team in the league. So well done new Blood and keep it up.

Jonathan Scripps

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