Saffron Walden Reserves 1 Vs Witham Reserves 1
15th September 2015
This was going to be a tough match against a side who had not been beaten in over a year.
Witham had won the league last year against tough competition, and are currently sitting top of the league.
I was really looking forward to the match, so I arrived early to find out more about our players. As I arrived I found that 4 of our first team players would feature in the game. As I came through the entrance I saw the Viking (Dan Grinrod) and The Boss (Joe Murphy) warming up. When I got closer I realised that James Crane and Max Drane where amongst the lads.
Paul Daw had asked me to put the stand lights on, so off I trotted around the pitch. I have just played back my commentary (as I was walking around the pitch), and I seemed really out of breath. I really need to get fit again.
I had one of Andrew Greens bacon rolls and had our usual banter (how ironic after my last paragraph!). The bacon was very nice as always Mr Green. I met up with Mrs. Nash, and she pointed out the players and told me who was who. This was my first reserve game of the season and the squad is very new.
Ray Manser had a mixed squad of experienced and young players. In goal he had the experienced Paul Wood. In defence he had Charlie Woolf, who is currently on loan from Cambridge United. The rest of the team as follows: Richardson, Murphy (The Boss), Dewey, Clark, Crane, Drane, Manser, Morrell and Grinrod (The Viking). Subs: Garrett, Sparrow, Gurane, Riccio and Vant.
I was really looking forward to the match. The sky looked like it was going to hammer it down, but that never bothers me as I am not the one getting soaked.
We started off well with Crane showing his off his speed and skills on the wing. The left back soon realised he was going to be in for a hard night.
Witham’s first main threat came from a whipped in cross, but the Boss cleared the ball out of danger. Murphy looked calm and in control.
Crane seemed determined to open up the scoring within 5 minutes of kick off. He had beaten his man twice, but his shot went wide of the post, almost knocking Mrs Nash’s flannel of her head.
Witham did try to put some pressure on, but with Murphy and Drane in the middle, they struggled to get the ball forward. I was very impressed by the way the Bloods had started the match.
Witham’s number 5 made a great tackle on Crane, which was timed very well. Had Crane got passed him he would have had a great chance on goal.
Witham first shot came from number 8. He caught it on the volley but went well wide. The cross was whipped in, and looked dangerous, but for the shot to be on target, it would have taken something special.
Witham followed up with a tricky corner, which was met by a shot on target. Richardson made a brilliant headed save, with his back to the goal. Had he not been there we would have been 1-0 down.
James Richardson linked up well with The Viking, on the left wing. The Viking beat his man and passed it back to Richardson. Richardson was tripped and won us a free kick from 25 yards from goal. The free kick had excellent weight, and sailed into the box, for The Viking to head the ball over the keeper and into the back of the net. Boom!
Not long after the goal the Boss was knocked to the floor, which doesn’t usually happen. He soon got back up, and didn’t roll around the ground like a Premier League wimp.
Crane was up to his tricks again causing grief for the Witham defence. He saw the Viking in space, and delivered a cross. The ball bounced up for the Viking, which made his shot hard to bring down. The shot went wide. It was great work by both players to create a good chance.
Morrell was working well with Manser and sent Crane on a run. Wolfe got in a great position for Crane to pass to. As he went to shoot, he skimmed the ball and his shot didn’t trouble to keeper. It was great to see the players in the box and not afraid to have a shot.
Walden looked like the favourite to score the next goal. We had 3 corners in a row. We just could not find that final ball. I think Witham did not expect to spend as much time with their backs against the goal. They did defend well and the keeper took control of his players.
The Viking and Crane had swapped sides. Wolfe won the ball back for the Bloods after some great pressure by Witham. Wolfe dribbled the ball forward and passed to the Viking. The Boss called for the ball to be set, and calmly pushed the ball away from his charging defender, but his shot went wide. It was a great effort from the Boss.
He continued to control the middle, and Morrell and Manser benefited from his well time passes. Morrell had a great chance, but his shot was well saved by keeper.
Shortly after Drane was booked for a slide tackle on the Witham player, and you could not argue with the referee.
Our last great effort of the half came from some great hold up play by the Viking. He kept the ball at his feet and frustrated the right back. He tried to get the ball, but ended up giving the Bloods a free kick.
The half time whistle had gone and Ray’s first half tack ticks were working. The Bloods were playing as a team. A great first half display against a very strong team.
At half time I saw Peter Davies, who plays for the first team. He has not been playing for a while due to work commitments. I hope to see him back on the pitch soon.
We started the half well and won an early corner after some great play between Crane and Wolfe. They had been linking up well since the start of the game. The corner was taken well and went over the keeper. Wolfe headed it back to the far post, but it was just too high for anyone to get a head on it.
Witham had a great chance to make it 1-1. They had a free kick, which was taken by number 7. The shot was hard but slightly over the bar. It would have been a hard shot to save if it was on target.
Witham put the pressure on from a corner, but the Bloods defence held their line well. Witham started to string some good passes together. They were looking dangerous and favourite to score.
Clark made an important headed clearance to deny Witham a potential shot on goal. The type of defensive header, that Reid or Beast would have been proud of.
Wolfe continued to look threatening and made some great runs. He was growing in confidence as the match went on, and I wonder if he could potentially break into the first team.
Just as it was going so well for the Bloods, Witham had scored. There was confusion and debate surrounding Witham’s equaliser. The assistant referee had flagged for off side, but after consulting the referee, the referee awarded a goal. It was very odd and much like the goal the first team conceded against Norwich, in the opening match of the season.
Walden were still playing for the win, and was not settling for a draw. They looked hungry and continued to put pressure in the Witham half. Richardson started to get further forward and take players on, winning a free kick. For a little fella he is tough.
I have to give a special mention and a shout out for Abbie Mackay, who kindly went and made me a cup of tea. I was engrossed with the match and didn’t want to miss any of the action. So thanks Abbie, it was much appreciated. Now that is service! Abbie is Richardson’s girlfriend, who was at the match to support him.
Pressure was mounting and Wood pulled of a fantastic save to deny Witham. The Boss controlled the ball, which could have gone anywhere and sent Crane on a run. Unfortunately Crane didn’t get his cross in, but it was a great effort. The save from Wood was apploaded by the respectful Witham keeper.
Grinrod had another great chance saved by the keeper. The Boss placed his pass well, but the inform keeper made a great diving save.
Morrell followed up by a great bit of skill and dangerous strike. He came at the defence from a wide position, beat his man, but his shot was well saved. Grinrod was waiting for the pass, but Morrell had a good opportunity to score and had a great go.
Manser came very close with a great opportunity, which forced another great save from the keeper. I spoke to him after and he said he was hoping to get a better connection, and to sail the ball into the top right hand corner.
The Boss continued to impress with a charging run and passed the defender. His shoot was long range and climbing, but just climbed to high to trouble the keeper. I told the keeper that had he got a hand to the shot, his hands would be stinging.
10 minutes to go and Witham had more chances to win the game. Wood really stepped up to the mark and produced some more great saves. The Witham keeper turned to me and said how good he was.
Mrs Nash’s “Just get stuck in” instructions where being shouted to the Bloods. We had played too well to be denied at least a point.
In the 90th The Boss had a clash of heads, and ended up with a bloody nose. He played on with cotton wall plugs shoved up his nose. He came really close to a last minute winner with a shot, hard and to the keeper’s right, but the keeper made a great save.
The match finished 1-1. The lads played really well and earned a point. Hopefully this will help build confidence for the match against Whitton United Reserves. The match is on the 19th September at Catons Lane. 3pm kick off.
MOTM came down to 6 people. Yes 6! My top 6 players were: Grinrod (Viking), Crane, Wood, Murphy (Boss), Wolfe and Richardson. A great display by all the team but the MOTM goes to Joe ‘The Boss’ Murphy. The Boss didn’t put a foot wrong throughout the game, and controlled the midfield. He tracked back when the defence needed him, and would break forward to joining the attack.
Overall a great and entertaining match. Keep it up.
My next blog will be Long Melford Vs Walden on Friday 18th September at 7.45pm. Can the first team get their first point, or even better points?
Thanks for reading