Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Saffron Walden 0 vs. Haverhill Rovers 1

Saffron Walden 0 vs. Haverhill Rovers 1
8th April 2015. The Meadow

The word robbed would be an understatement. That was the opinion of the frustrated Bloods fans, as they left the Meadow. Sorry to sound like Mourinho, but had he been the Bloods manager, his comments toward the match officials would have made the back pages of the national newspapers.

I know I may sound like a bitter, bad loser, but in this instance it is well justified. If you are a Rovers fan please don’t think I am being disrespectful. Your lads played well and came to the Meadow with a job to do, and full marks for your game play. I shall talk you through the events through the blog…I pre-warn you Mrs. Nash’s flannel was needed many times. 

We had the usual catch up before the match. I was pleased to hear that James Thomas had re-joined the Bloods. On Saturday, a few of the fans had gone to watch Royston against Hanwell to suss out our competition for the next round of the FA Cup.

Sticky’s line up was similar to the team who beat Cheshunt in the FA Cup. The main difference was that Bell played up front, in place of the injured Sam Gregory. I hope you get better soon Sam. Paul Abbott played right back, to allow Bell to play upfront.

Back from Calais, Floyd Croll was in goal. Defence: Strong, Lawrence (Beast), Reid and P Abbott. Midfield: Snelling (Mashy), Fleming and M Abbott. Forwards: Calver (Wig), Spike, and Turner (G Man). Subs: Thompson, Harper, Murphy (Boss), Noble (Nobby), Drane, Souter

So on to the match…

Within 1 minute of Haverhill kicking off, Walden had been awarded a free kick. The free kick was taken by M Abbott but didn’t result in anything.

Our first main threat came from the left wing. Strong won the ball back and made a great pass to Wig. Wig looked threatening from the off, and got the better of his defender. Wig passed it back to Strong who was preparing to shoot but was fouled, and we were awarded another free kick around 25 yards from goal. M Abbott crossed the ball into the box but it was well defended by a Rovers defensive header, resulting in a corner.

Wig continued to work hard and linked up well with Bell. Bell ran on and passed the ball back to Wig who had found some space. Wig sent in a dangerous cross but was met by the Rovers defender. I don’t think G Man was expecting it, and was about 5 yards from meeting the cross.

To our amazement we had a great goal disallowed. The Beast took a long throw on, which found Fleming, who flicked the ball over the keeper’s reach. The assistant referee had called a foul throw, and the referee agreed. No idea how he would of seen that when he was 70 yards away from the Beast.

Soon after the disallowed goal, the referee made another bad decision. He booked the Beast for what looked like a perfect tackle. From where I was standing he took the ball cleanly.

Haverhill played well so far, with their best player being Michael Shinn. He reads the game well, and has a great cross from a set piece. I thought he looked like Bloods’ greatest threat.

15 minutes in and it seemed the referee was blowing up for every challenge. It felt like he was trying to make a name for himself.

Rovers had a good opportunity going forward, but last week’s MOTM Greg Strong tracked back well and put in a well-timed challenge.

As the half progressed the Bloods did start to play better. G Man made an impressive run to the corner flag, and held the ball up well. The Rovers’ defender tripped him, which awarded us a free kick for M Abbott to take.

The free kick was taken and defended well by Rovers. The Rovers’ centre back headed the ball out for a Walden corner. The corner came in and found Wig. It looked like the Rovers player had hand balled it, but Bloods were penalised for a high foot.  Yet again, we had another strange decision from the referee.

26 minute in and Rover had a corner. The corner was well defended and cleared to a Rovers player. The Rovers player hit the ball first time, but his effort was too high.

Our best chance of the match so far (apart from the disallowed goal) came from Bell. G Man put some great pressure on the defence, which forced them to play back to Archer. Archer miss kicked his rushed clearance, which Bell intercepted. The ball just got under his feet, so his shot didn’t have enough power on it. It was very unlucky that he couldn’t get his body behind the shot.

Wig and Strong continued to give Haverhill problems on the left (dug out end). Strong volleyed the ball perfectly for Wig to run on to. He beat his defender but again the assistant referee raised his flag. The referee hadn’t blown so Wig played on. About 10 seconds later he realised the assistants flag was up and called for a Rovers throw on. The assistant must have Superman vision if he saw that happen. Had this been a tennis match, Hawkeye would have been called into action. Mrs Nash came close to throwing her flannel at the referee.

We continued to put the pressure on with a series of free kicks and corners, but we just could not get a clear shot on goal.

At the end of the first half Wig had another great effort, where he turned his man but his shot hit the post.

That was a frustrating half which had lots of controversy.

After being inspired by Floyd Croll, Walden did a bucket collection for The British Red Cross Society. We managed to raise £72.46. Thank you to all that donated.

Second Half

I missed the first 5 minutes of the match because I was collecting money. I heard nothing major had happened.

Haverhill started to take control of the game. Haverhill had a great opportunity from a free kick. The Rovers forward went to head the ball but he didn’t get a full connection, and the ball went wide of the post.

Soon after they had another great chance from a one on one but Reid put in a great challenge to deny a shooting opportunity.

Our first big effort of the 2nd half came from Mashy. He made a lovely pass to Bell, who ran to the right hand side of the box. Mashy continued his run to meet Bell’s cross. His cross was blocked by the defender and went over the bar for a corner kick.

Strong went down from a challenge. He required some treatment from Sarah, but got back up soon after. He tried to walk it off, but eventually it resulted in him being replaced by new Blood James Thomas. Bell then dropped back to the vacant right back position.

A little more pressure came from Rovers. Weaver and Kicks sent decent crosses into the box, but didn’t trouble Croll.

Next Bell worked very hard and dribbled the ball into the box. It took 3 Rovers defenders to put him off his stride, and his shot went over the bar.

Longley made a good break for Rovers, from a midfield position but M Abbott slid in well to take the ball off Longley. That was more like it, Abbo.

30 minutes to go and injured Strong was replaced by Jamie Thomas. Welcome back Jamie.

Soon after, Mashy was replaced by Joe ‘The Boss’ Murphy.  Mashy gave 100% to the match.

Thompson entered the play all guns blazing, with a great run up the wing. His cross was good but G Man just couldn’t find the back of the net. His headed effort went wide.

15 minutes to go and we looked like we were up against it. Thomas showed some great skill on the ball and played the ball into the box. He beat his man but the assistant referee waved for a foul on the defender. I have no idea how he made that decision. These decisions were starting to get silly.

More pressure from Rovers, but they ran into Fleming, who played the ball out of trouble.

Thompson, G Man and Wig had more changes in a period of 5 minutes but sadly no finish. The match had 0-0 written all over it.

8 minutes to go and Rovers started to put more pressure on, but our defence had an answer for every question Rovers asked.

Our next opportunity came from a Beast throw. The throw was strong and a long way out, causing the defender to head the ball away for a corner.

5 minutes to go and Croll pulled of an incredible save to his left. Rovers had a golden opportunity, but were denied by the outstretched Bloods number 1.

90 minutes in and disaster struck. The referee gave a penalty to Rovers for a ridiculous hand ball decision. The ball hit the Beast by the line. His hands were by his side, and the ball would have gone off for a goal kick had Beast not been there. Excuse me for the rant.


This is a recent article on hand ball I found which was written by Graham Poll

Regarding handball they now ask the referee to consider the proximity of the potential offender to the person last playing the ball, the speed of the ball and importantly whether the offender's arms are in a natural or unnatural position.

So the question of intent is now, did the offender deliberately place his arms in an unnatural position to increase the chances of the ball hitting him?

If the answer to that is yes then it is correct to penalise that player even though it used to be argued that was ball to hand.

So after reading the above I will let you make your own mind up.

The penalty was taken well and scored Perry Moody.

We tried to get back into the game in injury time and the tension was brewing. The referee stopped the game for 4 minutes after a nothing challenge. He even had to consult our ‘favorite’ assistant referee.

So that was it, game over. Rovers had taken all 3 points. A potentially great derby match was ruined by some bad decisions. Do not get me wrong, Rovers played well and if you ask their fans, I think they would agree we should have shared the spoils.

So down to my favorite part of the blog which is: Fan’s Man of The Match. This decision was easy for me. Fans Match of the Match goes to the referee! Sorry I couldn’t resist. This week’s MOTM is Wig Calver. Well done Wiggy.

I have promised to mention the great food given to the players at the end of the match. Ken had whipped up a very nice looking chicken pasta bake. It made me very hungry just looking at it. (Picture Below)

Next up we have FA Cup duty against Hanwell Town, which is away on Saturday 12th September. I have got my coach ticket! Have you? If you want coach tickets please contact Ken at the club ASAP.

Thanks for reading.


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