Sunday, 30 August 2015

Saffron Walden 2 Vs. Cheshunt 0 – FA Cup

Saffron Walden 2 – Cheshunt 0 – FA Cup

29th August 2015

I have been awake since 6am on a Sunday morning, reflecting on our epic FA Cup match, against Cheshunt. I am also slightly hung over, due to a beer festival in my village. A giant killing FA Cup win, and the choice of 30 beers just do not mix. I am in need of Mrs Nash’s cold flannel.

I arrived at the Meadows an hour before the game, so I could tie the flag up. A few of the Cheshunt players were warming up, and I was half expecting to be hit by the ball. So with one eye on the flag, and one on the ball, the flag was successfully hung. I took a ‘selfie’ for the blog and realised it was the first time I have been on the pitch since I was a kid. I missed last season’s pitch invasion, against The Bloaters.

I then enjoyed a bacon roll and chips, cooked by Andy. Ken and his team were setting up an outside BBQ and bar for the rush. I sat on the wall and had a catch up with Jackie. I was telling her that I had heard from Avis and he had two assists on his debut for his new club, Lakenheath.  

I also have to mention Andy Greens ‘Beer’ sign, which he was very proud of. Ken, can you please give Andy a gold star for effort? (Picture below)

We started the match with a 1 minute silence, to show our respect to the poor victims of last week’s Shoreham air crash. Two of the 11 people who died were from Non-League side Worthing United.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of Matt Grimstone and Jacob Schilt. #nonleaguefamily

It was time to get started. Walden were going to be tested against Step 4 club Cheshunt.

Wardley made more changes from last week’s narrow defeat against Mildenhall. I was really looking forward to seeing how the changes would make a difference.

Croll was in goal. Defence: Strong, Lawrence (Beast), Reid and Bell. Midfield: Snelling (Mashy), Fleming and M Abbott. Forwards: Calver (Wig), Gregory, and Turner (G Man). Subs: P Abbott, Harper, Murphy (Boss), Noble (Nobby), Crane, Souter and Wardly (Sticksy).

Walden kicked off the match. Cheshunt won the ball back and produced some early pressure. A cross was sent in, but the Beast headed it out of the 18 yard box. The ball fell to a Cheshunt player, but his shot was well wide.

We retaliated almost immediately thanks to some great midfield play. Gregory took hold of the ball, and won a throw on, in the Beast’s Territory. The fans called for the Beast to take it. The throw was good and found Gregory, but the whistle went for a soft push on the Cheshunt player. As you can imagine the fans disagreed vocally with the referee.

Cheshunt number 10, Adam Bolle, did break well and passed the ball to Marcus Milner. They did look dangerous on the brake, but Milner’s pass was flagged for off side.

Mark Noble took a great free kick near the dugout. Gregory and Turner (G Man) passed the ball well, and forced a throw on. Up steps the Beast, but the keeper caught it well.

Cheshunt's next threat came from number 4, David Hicks. He controlled the ball well and ran at the Walden defence. Snelling (Mashy) stuck to him like glue and ran him into Bell, who cleared the danger.

Wiggy continued to give their left back a hard time and whipped in a deadly cross. The cross was just slightly too high for Fleming, who came charging in from midfield. A foot lower and the keeper would have had no chance. Fleming was playing well and tracked back to pull off a well-timed challenge.

I have to say at this point, as it was on my Dictaphone, that Cheshunt’s number 8, Luke Illsley’s beard was impressive. I didn’t think anyone could match Grinrod’s beard, but Illsley’s beard was awesome.

Anyway back to the match with more great play from Wiggy and Abbott, which frustrated the defence. Wig was in the box and looked like he was tripped, but no penalty.

20 minutes had passed and we were pleased with the lads. Up to this point it was the best they had played all season.

Cheshunt had an excellent opportunity through Milner. He had a one on one with Croll, and pushed it to his left. Croll ran back to his goal, and saved Milner’s shot, giving Cheshunt a corner. The corner was well cleared by Fleming

Fresh from his holiday, Greg Strong was very impressive and made a very good tackle to deny a shooting opportunity. He handled it well and got the ball to G Man, rather than hoof a panic clearance. He should of put a sign up saying ‘You will not pass’.

Wiggy continued to impress after a great ball from Strong. He linked up well again with Noble. Wiggy had a great shot, which looked like a hand ball, but ended up as corner. Bell delivered a great corner, which found the Beast’s head, but went wide.

Our visitors broke again but Reid stood his ground. The Cheshunt player went down in the box and asked for a penalty, but the referee denied it.  Reid was not taking any nonsense.

32 minutes in and Mark Abbott pulled his hamstring, and was replaced by Joe ‘The Boss’ Muphy. I hope you recover well Mark. You had an excellent 30 minutes.

The Bloods were looking great, and the confidence was high. The team worked together, from the back to the front. The new look strike force of Turner, Gregory and Wig was working well, causing the Cheshunt defence grief. Gregory came very close with a sweet little turn, but his shot was defended well.

Wiggy followed it up by an excellent long range shot, which took a very slight deflection. The shot would have definitely been on target.

Soon after, Turner made a great run up the wing, to win a free kick. Spike took the free kick which was tipped over the bar from the keeper. The crowd were feeling positive. The ‘Come on Walden’ chants were getting louder.

The corner was taken long, which found Wiggy in space. Wig delivered the perfect cross for Reid to head home. Great goal and the pressure finally paid off.  Half time and the lads went in at 1-0 up.

Shortly after the half time whistle, I did my flag duties, and tied the flag behind the goal, at the Catons Lane end. Looking after the flag has been an honour Nigel. I hope you have liked the pictures.

Cheshunt came out early, eager to start the 2nd half. Mashy made an excellent run and slide tackle to win the ball. Mashy got trod on by Uade, which resulted in a yellow card and free kick to Walden.

Lady luck was on our side for the 2nd goal which came in the first 5 minutes. Gregory ran with the ball at the Cheshunt defence. He passed it to Wiggy, who delivered a forward pass to G Man. G Man beat his man and crossed the ball, low and hard , about 5 feet in front of the goal line. Joe Kizzy slid in to shield the ball, but as he got up, he kicked the ball into the back of the net. You had to feel for Kizzy. It was very unlucky. Credit for G Man though, for his wicked cross.

Walden were pressing for a third goal. Again the 3 Amigos linked up well and Wiggy had a shot which was saved comfortably by Williamson.

Soon after, Cheshunt did try to get back into the game. They had a good chance from a throw, but our defence closed the attack down well, and Croll collected the ball.

The Boss and Mashy partnership in the middle was looking threatening. They really took control of the midfield with Fleming backing them up. This gave another great chance for the forwards to string some passes together. Gregory made a lovely turn but his shot went over the bar.

Good effort from Bolle. His pass sent Milner up the wing, but Strong stood up well, and got the better of him. The communication was excellent between the back four. Strong was having an excellent game.

The rain started to come down but we didn’t care. We were winning and wanting more goals. Cheshunt had no way near given up and sent some great crosses in, but the Beast was not going to lose a battle in the air. He was even fouled a few times. Are you mad Cheshunt? You do realise his nick name is the Beast?

18 minutes in and Gregory went down holding his foot. He looked in pain and couldn’t continue, and was replaced by Louis Harper. Gregory had another great game and is enjoying his time at the Bloods. Hope for speedy recovery.

We were playing really well, and Wiggy took on half the team, and managed to get a shot, which was well saved by Williamson, to win us a corner.  Harper took a long corner, which was played back in, leaving Cheshunt no choice but to kick the ball out for a throw on. You’ve guessed it….The Beast chants were in full voice. The throw was good but Cheshunt’s number 7 was fouled.

I was so impressed with the way the defenders handled the Cheshunt pressure. Bell had a great clearance of the line to stop Cheshunt scoring. Soon after he broke, and dribbled the ball up the wing, and passed the ball forward to Wig. Wig’s shot was deflected for a corner.

30 minutes into the match, and the fans realised how much the referee looked like Percy from Blackadder. With my Rowan Atkinson looks, we almost had a full cast.

Reid continued to impress with another challenge. He linked up well with Strong to put off number 10 from getting his header on goal.

Another suspect decision by the referee denied us of a penalty which, if scored, would have surely finished the game off. Wig went on one of his skilful runs, making the defence dizzy.  He went down in the box but no penalty was given. Not a great call by Percy!

More pressure was being thrown at Walden, but Strong made a series of strong headers, diverting the danger. Cheshunt continued to try and get back in the game, but we were just too much for them.

5 minutes of the 90 remaining, and Mashy was replaced by Noble. Mashy had another very good game and has played well all season.

90 minutes on the clock and Cheshunt refused to give up. Reid played well and denied a good cross from finding its intended target.

Our last good effort was by Wiggy, who had a great opportunity to volley from a tight angle, but his shot went wide.

The full time whistle went and the match finished Walden 2 – Cheshunt 0. In my opinion, this has been the best I have seen from the Bloods all season. I wonder who will start against Haverhill Rovers on the 8th September? The Bloods played very well and got clean sheet. Is this the turning point? Let’s hope so.

It’s time for the fans Man of the Match. This was not an unanimous decision by the fans. The candidates were: Fleming, Wiggy, G Man, Reid and Strong. But I am pleased to revel that this week’s FA Cup MOTM goes to Greg Strong.

Well done Greg. You looked sharp throughout and marked Cheshunt off the field. Keep it up.

After the match I went to collect a Walden top for former 70’s/80’s Bloods goalkeeper K Neville, I asked Jon to pack away the flag. As I returned, I had seen that he ripped his jeans when he tried to leap from the railing. As you can imagine, Mrs Nash was in hysterics.

We then went to congratulate the lads and got them to pose for a photo, holding the flag.

There is no more first team action for 10 days, however I am off to see the under 18’s play on Tuesday, against St Neots Town. Kick off at 7.45pm. Can they continue their 100% win record in the Cambridge Division? No pressure lads, but I will be blogging. Who will be MOTM and headline the International Bloods Blog?

Thank you for reading. Up the Bloods


Jonathan Scripps

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