Hadleigh 1 – Saffron Walden 2
26th September 2015
Still buzzing from our 3-0 away win against Long Melford, I was ready to go again. I was so relieved to see that all our hard work was finally paying off. When I reflect on the losses, I don’t feel that it was all doom and gloom. Not one side, since we started the season, has made us look like we don’t belong in the Premier League. Anyway, enough of looking back! It was time to look forward and build on our confidence.
Our opponents Hadleigh, were in 12th place with 2 wins, 3 draws and a loss. For those who do not know Hadleigh, it’s a picturesque town with lots of history. It’s a really nice place to come for a day out or better, a game of football. The ground is well looked after and the pitch looked in great condition. I told the Chairman of Hadleigh what a great job his grounds keeper has done.
I arrived with Pete and Jon, listening to the Spurs vs Man City match on the radio. As you can imagine we were quite pleased to be 3-1 up at the time. I took advantage of not driving and had a pint and a portion of chips as we waited for kick off. We had a fair crowd in, but no Mrs. Nash. Don’t worry Mrs. Nash, you and the flannel got mentioned!
Sticksy decided to take a well-earned rest and not start the match. We don’t want those knees going just yet Sticko!
Floyd Croll was in goal. Defence: Grinrod (Viking), Lawrence (Beast), Reid and P Abbott. Midfield: Snelling (Mashy), Harper, Drane. Forwards: Calver (Wig), Bell and Thomas. Subs: Solkhon, Murphy (Boss), Wardley (Sticksy), Crane and Soutar
It was great to see Solkhon back in the squad, after recovering from his injury.
The first half
As always, Walden started the game lively. In the first few minutes Thomas had an opportunity from a one on one with the goal keeper Nower, but Nower got off his line quickly and beat Thomas to the ball.
Hadleigh retaliated with a corner, taken by their Captain, Jennings. The corner met a striker, but Drane slid in and won the ball back, and set Wig off on a run. Wig took a shot but he missed the target.
At this point I was talking to Martin Johnson about sitting with Ray on the reserves bench, so I can pretend to know what I am talking about. If my old mate Malcolm can, then I can and I want to feel important for 90 minutes! Watch this space!
5 minutes in and Hadleigh’s Chaplin made a good effort, but was comfortably saved by Croll. A minute later Spindler took hold of the ball in the danger zone, but his shot went wide.
10 minutes, Hadleigh then called for a penalty as Chaplin thought he was tripped. The referee was standing very close and waved play on.
Croll then pulled off a great save from a lovely shot by Lorimer. He beat his defender but couldn’t beat Croll. Croll was looking very confident.
Hadleigh almost drew first blood, but Mashy saved the day and cleared the ball off the line. The effort came from a corner taken by Jennings.
13 minutes in and Croll was called into action again. He got down low and hard to stop Hadleigh from scoring. Hadleigh were starting to look like the better side.
Our first opportunity came from a free kick, which Wig had won. He was tripped just outside the right hand side of the 18 yards box. Harper took the free kick, but no one managed a clear shot on goal.
20 minutes into the match and Mashy came close to scoring a screamer. He smashed the ball from 25 yards out, but the ball kept climbing, missing the goal by about 2 feet.
The Blood’s pressure paid off with a brilliant solo goal by Wig. The Beast hit a long ball, which cleared the defence. Wig controlled the ball and placed it in the bottom corner, leaving Nower no chance.
It was 1 nil to Walden. Come on you Bloods.
27 minutes in to the match, and Bell won a throw on after some great skill on the wing. In true fashion we called for the Beast. The throw was good and found Bell, but he couldn’t convert it. Hadleigh won the ball back and made a break. The Bloods peddled back, but Croll sprinted off his line to collect the ball.
We had won another corner, which Bell took, but Nower read the cross well and caught the ball in the air.
Jennings continued to look good for Hadleigh and linked up well with Chaplin. The Viking stuck to Chaplin well, and forced him to kick the ball off for a goal kick.
Leading goal scoring Thrower had a really good effort on goal, which Croll saved very well. They were determined to get back into the game.
Hadleigh’s next great effort came from a missed time pass from the Viking to the Beast. Spindler pounced onto the ball, but again his shot could not beat the on form Blood’s number 1. Hadleigh were given a corner, which did find a danger man, but the shot was high and wide.
35 minutes in and Bell made a lovely turn on the line to skin the defender. He just managed to get a cross in, but the defender got a slight touch which took the power out of the ball, and then Nower collected.
Hadleigh had some great link up play, where Lorimer ran up the wing and passed to Chaplin. Chaplin then set Stafford up for a shot, but his effort went over the bar.
Reid was then called into action again, and made a lovely block to prevent Thrower from potentially scoring. Soon after, Reid made another great headed clearance to deny Hadleigh another opportunity.
5 minutes to go and Bell won a corner. Bell stayed where he was to take the corner. The corner was good and found the Beast, but didn’t trouble Nower.
Thrower had another great chance but again Reid got a great block in. Reid was working very hard.
Hadleigh continued to look threatening. . Spidler had forced a great save out of Croll, but managed to take another shot. We held our breath as we watched the ball travel across the 6 yard box. Luckily no one was there to meet it.
HT Hadley 0 – Saffron Walden 1
Walden to kick off and the Bloods started well. Reid made a lovely move and found Thomas on the wing. Thomas passed to Harper but he could not get his shot away. It was great to see attacking play coming from the back.
Hadleigh had an early free kick from outside the box. Hadleigh tried to cross the ball in for Thrower, but Mashy cleared the ball well.
Hadleigh really worked hard to get back into the game. They put together some great passes. They had a great chance, but the assistant referee called for off side.
Scopes fouled Wig, as Wig was travelling towards goal. Wig was not happy with Scopes and felt it was a clumsy tackle.
Just as we were under pressure, new Blood Thomas scored a great goal. He took the ball from outside the 18 yard box, beat 2 defenders and could have gone down from a trip, but he stayed up and slotted the ball passed Nower’s outstretched right hand. Well done Thomas for getting your first goal for the Bloods. Thomas looked thrilled as he punched the air. He was due a goal and it was only a matter of time. It was 2-0 to the Bloods after 10 minutes into the 2nd half.
The Viking showed some great play by ushering the ball from a potential cross. Instead he hit against Spindler for a goal kick.
Thomas was hungry again for more goals. He dribbled the ball from the right hand side and crossed it to Harper. Harper smashed the ball, which was heading for the top of the net, but Nower made a great fingertip save.
Hadleigh worked hard to get back into the match. They had a long range effort, which went just over the bar.
Scopes and Wig continued their battle which resulted in another foul in front of the Walden bench. Wig and the bench were not happy. The referee controlled the situation well, and gave both players a yellow card.
Hadleigh’s pressure soon paid off when they scored a soft goal. Not sure what happened, as we had defended a lot better chances than that. Chester passed the ball to Stafford, and Stafford swept the ball into the bottom left hand corner. It was now game on. We had to hold on or score another.
Spindler came very close to scoring, but yet again Croll saved the day with a brilliant block. Croll was on great form.
Hadleigh looked for a second but the Bloods didn’t park the bus. Instead they tried to get forward to hopefully kill the game off. Thomas and Harper made some great runs to keep the Hadley defence on their toes.
20 minutes to go and Wardley made a few substitutions. Drane was replaced by Joe ‘The Boss’ Murphy and Harper was replaced by Solkhon. Both Drane and Harper had a great match and worked hard throughout.
The Viking showed some great skills, which resulted in a Walden corner. Bell took the corner well, and Solks jumped to head the ball, but his header went over the bar.
Now, what happened next from Floyd Croll was incredible. I only wish someone recorded it. Croll first made a fantastic save to deny Thrower, which then rebounded to another Hadleigh player. Croll jumped up and saved it again. It was a superb double save. Goal keeper Nower even clapped Croll out of respect.
Last 8 minutes and Hadleigh kept on trying to get back into the game, but we did not panic. Reid, Beast, Abbott and Solk’s held the line well.
Wig and Thomas linked up well again and won a throw on. The Beast stayed put, to protect Croll in case Hadleigh broke free.
Wig, Thomas and Grinrod all pushed forward, and kept the ball. Both Wig and the Viking won us free kicks near the corner flag, but the Bloods decided to try and run the clock down instead of going for a third. That was a sensible decision from the lads.
Bell looked threating on the wing and worked hard keeping the ball. Bell won us a throw on to keep possession.
As you can imagine, we were yelling at the referee to blow the whistle. We kept watching the referee take glances at his watch.
Finally the whistle went and we had won our second game on the trot. It was a brilliant effort for the team and we are now heading for the right direction.
The fans’ Man of the Match was an easy choice for me. Floyd Croll yet again showed brilliance in goal. He is a great asset for the team. That double save he made was world class. Well done Floyd.
Upcoming fixtures for the Bloods:
30th September – Ilford Vs Walden (Essex Senior Cup)
3rd October – Godmanchester Vs Walden (Prem League)
3rd October – Walden Vs Stowmarket (League)
29th September – Walden Vs Soham Town Rangers
I shall be blogging for the Ilford and Godmachester game and will try to get to the U18s match.
Thanks for reading