Monday, 26 October 2015

Saffron Walden 1 - Stanway Rovers 2

Saffron Walden 1 – Stanway Rovers 2


It was the 125th Birthday for Saffron Walden Town FC. So much history has been made at ‘The Meadow’. The club had got together, and had banner made, and an arch of red and black balloons. The Party Box in Saffron Walden provided the decoration, and SGA Technology sponsored the match.

It was also Mrs Nash and Malcolm’s 28th wedding anniversary. I bought her a flannel for the special occasion, with the Walden badge stitched on. She was very pleased with her present. (See picture)

I was really looking forward to this match. To me it felt like we needed to get revenge. Stanway knocked us out of the FA Vase last year. We had an epic run, and all had dreams of Wembley. I will never forget that match. The Bloods fans packed the ground, and were in full voice.

Wig was serving a 1 match suspension, and Mashy was out with an injury. We are still missing Greg Strong and Sam Gregory, and I wish them a speedy recovery.

Floyd Croll was in goal. Defence: Solkhon (Rocky), Lawrence (Beast), Reid and P Abbot. Midfield: Noble (Nobby), Murphy (The Boss), Bell. Forwards: Harper, Turner (G Man) and Thomas. Subs: M Abbot, Drane, Fleming, Crane (Road Runner), Grindrod (The Viking)

The First Half

We started the match kicking towards Catons Lane. We must have lost the toss as we usually start the match kicking towards the playing field.  

The match started a little cagy. Each player was passing the ball well, and didn’t want to make a mistake. It was a different tactic, as we usually go for the kill from the kick off. It was good to see the lads keeping possession.

Our first decent opportunity was from a throw-on for the Beast. Unfortunately he was caught with his feet over the line, which resulted in a foul throw.

In true fashion, the crowd was giving the away keeper some stick. His first five goal kicks ended up in the stand. Nick Punter, if you’re reading this. You took it well, and didn’t bite once. Nice one! It was amusing how Punter’s kicking got so much better after the fans banter.

10 minutes in and the Beast did very well, to put off Shaw from having a clean effort on goal. He tracked back well and Shaw’s effort went wide.

Shortly after, Stanway’s number 7 Newson had a good attempt, but it went wide and didn’t force a save from Croll.

Stanway had their own long throw specialist, or as we like to call; The Beast. He sent in a very dangerous long throw, but Croll came off his line, and caught the ball.

Bell was given an unexpected opportunity to lob Punter. Punter decided to rush off his line to clear a forward ball, but he was out of his area and had no choice but to header the ball clear. The ball fell to Bell, but his lob went wide. It was very quick thinking from Bell.

We came under some more pressure from a corner. The corner was whipped in, but Paul Abbot defended well, but it ended up back at Cawley’s feet. Cawley crossed the ball back in to the box, but could only find the Beast’s strong clearing header. His header dropped to Slatter, but his shot went over the bar.

Our closest effort of the half so far, came from a Beast throw. The Beast found Ried in space, who headed the ball at goal. The header beat Punter, but the Stanway defender was in the right place, and cleared it off the line.

33 minutes into the match and we drew first blood. G Man latched onto Rocky’s through ball, controlled it with his chest, and smashed it passed Punter. Lovely goal G!

Stanway tried to get straight back into the match with a series of threatening crosses, but Croll and his defence held their line well. Croll punched the ball clear, which G Man collected at the half way line. He passed the ball, for Thomas to run on to. Thomas ran all the way down the wing and into the box, but his cross was well defended by Cawley. 

Thomas was showing off his skills, as we tried to push for a second. He was brought down outside the box for a free kick. Harper took the free kick, which was aimed at Thomas, but the defender headed the ball clear.

Thomas was getting pulled about, as he was out-playing the defenders. He was pulled back, which looked like a foul, but the lads were told to play on.

Stanway pushed hard to get the equalizer, but the Beast put in a great challenge to win the ball, and Bell managed to clear the danger. Hughes got the ball back into the Bloods box, but it was an easy catch for Croll.

Bell produced the best skill of the half, when he fell to the ground with the ball at his feet. He managed to shield the ball in a crab-like position, got up and beat two of the Stanway players. He even managed to put in a cross, but Punter caught the ball.

HT Saffron Walden 1 – Stanway 0


Second Half

Stanway came out all guns blazing, and had an early penalty shout. The referee told the player to get up, and he was booked for diving.

Newson had a very good shooting opportunity, but Reid tracked back and put in a block, preventing the shot. Reid cleared the ball for a Stanway throw.

At this point of the second half, Malc Nash gave me a lovely phrase for the Blog, but it’s so rude I can’t possibly repeat it. It was very funny though! You’re going to have to ask him on Saturday.

Hughes took a free kick for Stanway. He tried to sail it in at the back post, but Slatters miss kicked it, and we cleared the ball for a Stanway throw.

Young Blood, Owen Bailey asked if he could have a go at recording. He reported that Stanway had a corner, but the shot went over the bar and they all stood with their hands on their heads. He did mention a lot more, but I can’t type that fast. Well done Owen! It was great to work with such a professional.

We were awarded a throw-on for the Beast. It was a great throw; which could have gone anywhere. The ball was defended for another throw. The second throw, was again cleared by Stanway. There was a little bit of pushing and shoving in the box, as we waited for the ball to be launched by the Beast.

G Man had a great opportunity to make it 2-0. G Man latched onto Thomas’ through ball and turned the defender, but he lost his footing, and his shot didn’t have enough power to trouble Punter.

The club invited some of the local Walden youth teams, to watch the match for free. They sang some great songs about Croll, about how Punter wished he was as good as him.

Stanway got quite physical, and Cawley was yellow carded for a challenge on Thomas. There was a little bit of afters. It could have been a red card. I have seen them given before.

62 minutes into the match and Harper was replaced by M Abbot.

Jamie Shaw came very close to equalising for Stanway. His strike rattled against the cross bar. Beast ran back to stop Stanway from pouncing on the loose ball.

Stanway claimed again for a penalty, but it was actually a lovely tackle from Paul Abbot. Croll came off his line to collect the ball.

Shortly after, Croll made a fantastic save. The ball was flicked into the 6 yard box by Shaw, and Newson got his head to it. Croll quickly dived to his right hand side, and push the ball away.

Now this is where it gets confusing. Neale was booked for a challenge, but Stanway was awarded the free kick. The ball was quickly played to Shaw, who squared it to Slatter for a tap in. As you can imagine; the flannel was out! I still do not know why Stanway was given the free kick? I hope someone can explain it to me on Saturday. It was not 1-1.

76 minutes into the match and The Boss was replaced by Fleming. Well played Boss.

82 minutes in to the match, and the fans were getting frustrated with the referee. He awarded another free kick to Stanway; after Bell was booked?!! Now this was getting silly! To make matters worse, Stanway scored from it. A diagonal cross was delivered into the box, for substitute Meadows to header it into the back of the net. What is it with Walden and bad decisions?!

87 minutes into the match and P Abbot was replaced by Road Runner. Abbot had a good game and made some key tackles. It was difficult to get RR into the game with only a few minutes to go, but in RR style, he came out of the dug out fast!

Unfortunately it was not our day! The referee blew the whistle and that was it. It was a difficult match, which didn’t help by some dodgy decisions. I feel we didn’t create enough chances, and only had a few shots on goal.

As always we congratulated the keeper for his win, and for being a good sport. I look forward to playing them again at their ground.

The fans MOTM went to Graeme Turner. He worked very hard and he took his shot very well. Well done G Man. It is great to see you open your 2015/16 account.

Next up for the first team is an away match against Haverhill Rovers. Last time we met, we marginally lost at home to a last minute penalty. I believe we are putting on a coach from Catons Lane. Speak to Ken or Andrew for details.  It is time to get back to winning ways!

The Ressies have an away match against Long Melford Reserves on Tuesday the 27th October. Unfortunately I can’t make the match. Good luck lads!

Thanks for reading.

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