Hanwell Town 1 – Saffron Walden 0 FA Cup 12th September 2015
The sun was shining, the fans smiling, and the bacon sarnies were sizzling. That was what I was greeted with at 10.30am. I resisted one of Andy’s famous bacon sarnies and opted for a cup of tea. I am so rock and roll.
It was good to see everyone and we had a good catch up. We were still complaining about last Tuesdays referee. I wanted to know if I had been too harsh in my last blog. The opinion of the Bloods family was no.
I went to see Sam Gregory and Sam Soutar first. I wanted to check on Gregory’s knee injury. He seemed confident he will bounce back soon, which is good. I was pleased to see that all 3 of our injured played come along to cheer on the team. (Strong, Solks and Gregory)
The club had arranged for a coach to take the team, board and fans to the match. The price of the coach was just £12 for adults, which is very reasonable.
So with the bloods family in tow, we were off to Hanwell.
On the coach I had a chance to talk to Floyd about Calais, and his career. I asked him who he thought was the best player he has played against. He told me it was Robbie Fowler. Now not many keepers in the world can say that.
I also had a chat with our new Blood, James Thomas. He told me about the clubs he had played for and where he was from. James is very impressed with the setup of the club, and the amount of fans we have.
We arrived just after 1pm and headed straight to the bar for food and beer. The food was good and reasonably priced.
It was a nice atmosphere, and the Hanwell staff where very welcoming. We all gathered around chatting, waiting for kick off.
Before the match started, I went and asked some of the fans for their predictions on the result. The most popular result was a 2-1 win to Walden. Maybe I shouldn’t do that in future.
As the players entered the pitch we stood by the tunnel (not really a tunnel, but you get my point), to cheer on our lads. Once we found out where we were facing we headed behind the goal.
Wardley made more changes from last week’s narrow defeat against Haverhill.
Croll was in goal. Defence: P Abbott, Lawrence (Beast), Reid and Bell. Midfield: Snelling (Mashy), Harper and Noble (Nobby). Forwards: Calver (Wig), Thomas, and Turner (G Man). Subs: Murphy (Boss), M Abbott, Wardley, Crane, Drane, Souter and Grinrod (Viking).
Sorry Dan but you now have the nickname Viking, due to your very impressive beard. I am only jealous that I can’t rock a beard as good as you.
It was show time and Mrs Nash was ready with her flannel. Walden had won the toss to begin the match we had all been waiting for.
Early to the match, and thanks to a lovely run by G Man, we had won a throw on in the Beasts territory. The fans called for the Beast the same way the Romans would have called for Spartacus. The excitement was shortly lived, as Beast was penalised for a foul throw.
Hanwell’s first threat came from the talented number 10 Ighorae. He ran at the Bloods defence, but only to find Reid waiting for him. Reid put in a great tackle and Bell snuffed out the threat, and cleared the ball for a Hanwell throw.
Hanwell’s movement flowed and they looked dangerous. Hanwell had won a corner which was whipped in, but Reid headed the ball away from danger.
G Man continued to look threatening on the wing and found Wiggy in space. Wig took on the Hanwell defence, but ended up being tripped for a free kick. Harper’s free kick was just too high for anyone to get a head on it.
In the first 10 minutes Hanwell looked the better side. They had a series of corners, but none of them troubled Croll. Reid was having a great first 10 minutes and stood strong against a physical Hanwell team.
Thomas was looking hungry for his first goal for the bloods. P Abbott played a lovely long ball for Thomas. The defender had just beaten him to the ball and cleared it away. James was very unlucky not to get an effort on goal.
Thomas was playing just in front of Wiggy, in a 4-4-2 formation. Thomas caused more issues with his touches. He played the ball into the box but just could not get his cross away. Hanwell were closing down the Bloods well.
Hanwells next great effort came from Ryan Ashe. Their passing was very slick and Ashe found himself with a yard of space, but his long range effort was scuffed, and went well wide.
20 minutes in and we had a penalty call. Harper showed some great skill holding onto the ball in the middle of the park. He passed the ball to G Man and G Man passed it to Wig. Wig beat his man and looked like he was tripped in the box. The referee was very close to him, and waved play on.
At this time, I had noticed that the grass seemed quite long. I have no idea what the grass length should be? It just seemed long compared to all the other grounds I had been to this season.
Just as we thought we had gone one nil up, the flag was raised for off side. The Hanwell defence had opened up and Mashy got on the end of a cross, but according to the assistant referee, was off side.
Shortly after the disallowed goal, the same thing happened to Hanwell. I am afraid I was not looking, or as Wenger would say ‘I did not see the ball’. I heard a cheer from the Hanwell fans which was followed by ‘Aaaaaahhhhhhhh’ from the Walden fans, when they realised the flag had been raised for off side. I love football banter.
Bloods had a great chance from a Beast throw on. G Man rose well, and flicked the ball down towards the penalty spot. Mashy took a shot but it was well blocked. Thomas followed up with another shot on target, but it was blocked again, and the ball went off for a Walden throw. The fans were getting excited at the prospect of breaking the deadlock. The Beast launched the ball into the box, but it was well defended by Hanwell.
Hanwell replied with a fantastic run by Ighorae. He was one on one with Croll, but Croll sprinted out, and took the ball away from Ighorae’s feet, holding the ball to his chest. That was great skills by Croll to deny Ighorae a goal.
The Bloods continued to look threatening, but I would say that Hanwell played better in the first 20 minutes, and we played better in the next 20 minutes.
Wig had a decent long range effort saved by the keeper Davies. Soon after Harper had a great opportunity from G Man’s cross, but just did connect with the ball. I was hoping it was going to be a Louis Harper worldy.
Our best effort of the match came from a brilliant long ball from Wiggy to Thomas. Thomas ran and played the ball back to Wiggy. Wig’s shot was pushed away by Davies. G Man followed it up from a header which was caught by Davies. That was very unlucky.
Ighorae looked deadly, and drove at the Walden defence. His shoot was low and hard but hit post. We cleared the ball well from danger. That was a huge let off for the Bloods.
Mashy and Wig linked up well, and we encouraged Mashy to take on the defence. He beat two players, but his shot went wide. It was great to see the lads having a go and not be afraid to shoot.
The half time whistle went and the score was Hanwell 0 – Saffron Walden 0. Both teams had great chances and I was pleased with the lads.
Hanwell started the game well. They came out all guns blazing. They had a great effort from Duguid. It happened so fast, but Croll saved the shot and the Beast did well to keep the ball under his control and play it out for danger.
We had a great effort from Thomas after Mashy went on a great run. Mashy played the ball to Wig, who crossed it to Thomas, but his shot went over the bar.
5 minutes in and Hanwell had scored. The goal came from a corner, which the players struggled to see. The ball went over the top and was well finished. I am really sorry but I do not know who scored the goal. Please comment below if you can tell me.
Hanwell came close to going 2 nil up, from a header. The ball came in and the Hanwell player’s header hit the post. Hanwell were playing well and we needed to get back in the game.
We didn’t let our heads drop, and Wig had a great effort but was well blocked. The effort came from Beasts throw on.
Bloods got caught on the break and Ighorae ran towards the goal keeping the ball at his feet. His shot was long and hard, but Croll’s save was excellent. He dived to his right and palmed the ball away with his out stretched arm. That save kept us in it.
Duguid made a great run and passed the ball to Ashe. His shot hit the cross bar and the Bloods fans gave a sigh of relieve. They were getting close to finishing us off.
10 minutes in Grinrod replaced Abbott. Grinrod got stuck in early and made a great run but was well challenged.
The referee seemed to be blowing his whistle more this half, then the first. It was getting frustrating for the fans and players. Mrs Nash’s flannel had official come out.
We had a free kick and Harper played in along the floor to Wig. Wig made a lovely turn but there was no one there to meet his cross.
During the second half, Hanwell’s Harry Newton was introduced to the right wing. It was a great contest between G Man and Newton. Both players were tall and fast, making it was great to watch.
Newton made a great run and crossed the ball into the box, but Mashy played well and controlled the ball under pressure.
Hanwell looked like they had scored again from a corner, but the shot went into the side netting.
25 minutes into the 2nd half and G Man was replaced by Crane. G Man had a good game and I am tipping him to score against Long Melford, where he was easily MOTM last year.
Thomas made a great call from a quick throw on. Thomas controlled the ball well and passed to the Viking. The Viking crossed the ball well for Mashy to run onto, but the defender just beat him to the ball.
We had not given up and Reid made a great effort, but his header went over the cross bar.
70 minutes in a The Beast crossed the ball in, which met Thomas’ head, but his effort was caught by the keeper.
Hanwell were desperate to get their 2nd goal. Ighorae had a great shot on goal, but again Croll stood up to the mark, and made a great save. Croll was determined not to be beaten again, and was giving the Bloods a life line.
10 minutes to go and Noble was replaced by Sticksys. Noble had another good game and continues to work hard.
Shortly after, Hanwell’s keeper Davies pulled off a brilliant finger tipped save to deny Thomas of his first goal. Thomas headed Mashy’s excellent cross, but Davies saved the day for Hanwell.
Duguid showed some excellent skill, and just got passed Bell. His shot was strong, but Croll saved well.
The last great effort for the Bloods came from a great ball from Harper, which found Thomas at the far post. Thomas’ header was on target but straight at Davies.
The match ended in defeat. We had lost 1-0 in game, which could have gone either way. Hanwell looked the better team throughout the 2nd half and their pressure paid off. The Bloods did well considering we played a step 4 club who has some very fast, skilful players.
MOTM went came down to 4 people. My top 4 players for the Bloods where: Mashy, Reid, Thomas and Croll. I am going to walk away from the lap top for 10 minutes to have a think.
Okay I am back. MOTM goes to Floyd Croll. Floyd’s brilliant saves in the 2nd half gave us an opportunity to stay in the match. Well done Croll and I hope you have a quieter game next time.
So the dream is over, but the heads have not dropped. The first team’s next game is away against Long Melford on Friday night. I hope we can improve on last year’s 3-3 draw.
The next match at Catons Lanes sees Saffron Walden Reserves take on Witham Town. The match is on Tuesday 15th. Kick of 7.45pm. Witham are top of the league with 4 wins and 1 draw. A win for the Bloods would be fantastic. Let’s support our reserves.
Thank you for reading