Whitton United 1 – Saffron Walden 3
I must have checked the weather over 100 times since Friday afternoon. After hearing the Reserve’s had been postponed, the match against Whitton United looked doubtful. The ground had a pitch inspection at 11am and it was all systems go. It was game on! I was determined to watch a match today. Had the both the Bloods matches been called off, I would have gone and cheered on former Bloods hit man Shaun Avis, play for West Wratting. A few fans went to see Shaun, which I thought was great. As they say: ‘You can take the boy out of Walden, but not the Walden out of the boy’.
As I drove to Whitton, I was praying that I wouldn’t get a phone calling, telling me the match had been called off. Thankfully it was still on when I arrived about 45 minutes from kick off. I had a good catch up with Nigel, Peter and Martin. Martin had told me that we were currently rock bottom of the league. A win was badly needed, which would get us out of the bottom three.
The line up to face Whitton United:
Floyd Croll was in goal. Defence: Grindrod, Reid, Solkhon (Rocky) and P Abbott. Midfield: Murphy (The Boss), Fleming and Noble (Nobby). Forwards: Calver (Wig), Thomas and Bell. Subs: Soutar, Drane, M Abbott, Crane (Road Runner), Harper and Andrews
The first half
The rain had been coming down for the past 24 hours, which made the pitch difficult to play on. That’s not an excuse, by the way, as both teams were affected.
We didn’t start the game very well, and found ourselves a goal down after 2 minutes. Paul Abbot lost his footing, just outside the 18 yard box, which allowed Whitton’s number 10 to play the ball around Abbot. He timed his pass well, and their number 7 struck well, and hit the back of the net.
5 minutes in and Wig showed off his skills. He managed to turn the defender and strike at goal, but his shot was well caught by the keeper.
10 minutes in and Reid was replaced by Harper. I think Reid had slightly pulled his hamstring, but I am not 100% sure. It was not worth the risk of adding further damage, by playing on. Reid I hope you bounce back quickly mate.
Bell managed to get forward, and ran with the ball into the box. He went for a shot, but it was well defended for a Walden corner. The corner was taking by The Viking, which found Rocky at the back post. Rocky headed the ball at the goal, which slightly went over the line to award the Bloods the equaliser. The defender was given a yellow card, for trying to scoop the ball away from the goal mouth, with his hand. In my opinion it was very good refereeing by the officials, who did need to consult with each other, but made their decision quick. Before you faint, yes I did give the officials a compliment. It was 1-1 and game on.
Walden had a nervous moment when Floyd came of his line to clear the ball. The ball hit the Whitton striker, but Rocky got back and cleared the ball.
18 minutes into the match, and Walden started to look the better side. Some great work from Harper and the Viking on the wing. The movement was better, and more controlled.
Spike and Bell started to mirror the good work from Harper and Viking, by playing some lovely one pass touches. The ball was slow along the ground due to the mud, but that did not put the lads off, from trying to get that second goal.
Louis Harper was shown the yellow card for a late tackle on the Whitton striker. It was not intentional, and he slid further then he would have normally. Whitton took their free kick but it went straight to Croll.
Whitton’s number 11 looked good on the break, but Rocky did very well to stay with his run. Rocky won the ball back, and shielded the ball. Croll called for it and safely cleared the danger.
Thomas had another great run down the wing. He sent in a lovely cross, aimed for Harpers run, but it was slightly too long.
We had a little bit of pressure, but Rocky handled it well. He started to bring the ball out of the area, but ended up being tripped.
Thomas again showed his pace, and great footwork. He crossed the ball into the 6 yard box, which was slightly too high for Wig. Wig tried to get the ball back into the box, but the defender did well.
Our wing play was excellent, and the Viking, Wig and Harper passed the ball in a triangle around the Whitton defence. The Viking crossed the ball, but it was well defended for a Walden corner. His corner was taken well, but no one managed to get a clean shot on goal and the defence managed to clear the danger.
35 minutes into the match, and the rain started getting heavier. I was starting to worry that the game would be called off.
There was a nervous moment for Walden, when the Whitton striker tried to lob Croll, but it was wide and off side.
HT: Whitton 1 – Saffron Walden 1
We had the perfect start to the second half. James Thomas met The Viking’s cross, and caught the ball perfectly to make it 2-1. It happened so quickly. Had we been in the VIP seats at Wembley, we would have missed it.
Whitton didn’t let their heads drop, and tested Croll with an in-swinging cross from the wing. Croll firmly pushed the ball over the cross bar, for a Whitton corner. The corner was well delivered, but Fleming headed the ball clear, which found Bell in space. Bell ran with the ball, and delivered a cross into the box, but it was slightly too high for Rocky.
55 minutes in, and Harper took the ball on the wing, and found himself instantly under pressure by the Whitton defence. He calmly controlled the ball, and found Thomas’ run. Thomas dribbled the ball into the 18 yard box, and launched it at the goal. The keeper made a very good save, but it dropped to Wig for a header. The header went wide and was offside, so wouldn’t have counted.
Joe ‘The Boss’ Murphy was having a great game, and worked extremely hard to win every loose ball. He would try and capitalise on any mistake Whitton made.
Whitton had a good opportunity from a break. They got passed our midfield, but Nobby got back and made a well-timed tackle to win the ball back.
Walden had a free kick, which didn’t go according to plan. Whitton’s number 15 ran with the ball, but last week’s MOTM Paul Abbot, got back well and forced the striker to miss kick his shot.
Thomas showed us the reason why he was star man last month. He beat the defence, and whipped in a cross for Wig. The ball fell for Harper, who shot, but the whistle went as Whitton’s number five was fouled in the air.
The Bloods showed grit and determination to keep onto their lead. Every player was working hard, and Wig tracked back, and made a brilliant tackle to deny Whitton a shooting opportunity.
Whitton had not given up, and still had a good chance to get back into the match. They tried to push our back four back, but the lads stood up well, and wouldn’t let them shoot.
The Viking was playing very well and managed to get across the box, to clear the ball. The ball was loose, and could have been latched on by a Whitton player.
Harper had a great opportunity to make it 3-1. He came very close to scoring a thunderbolt, but it went into the side netting. We were convinced it went in, and gave a premature cheer. I do have to mention, this all came from some brilliant work by Paul Abbot.
The football, the lads were playing was a joy to watch. We were dominating the play, and looked dangerous every time we came forward.
The Boss had a lovely headed goal disallowed. It all came from a free kick taken by Harper. Wig was in an off side position, but was not interfering with play. He had his hand up, and was running away from the goal. Anyway, the ball found Rocky at the back post, who headed across the box. The Boss flew in and buried it into the back of the net with his head.
75 minutes into the match, and Whitton started to put pressure on the Walden defence, but the Viking got back and made a lovely tackle, to prevent a dangerous cross.
80 minutes into the match and Whitton had a free kick. The ball was crossed into the box, but Rocky headed the ball clear from danger.
Wig scored the goal of the day. He collected a long ball from Thomas’ cross, and brought it down to his feet. He smashed the ball at the goal, which hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced over the line. The keeper had no chance. The ‘We are staying up’ chants had begun!
In the last few minutes, Whitton tried to claim for a penalty, but the referee waved play on.
In the 90th minute, The Boss and Bell were replaced by M Abbot and Max Drane. Both players did really well and should be pleased by their performance.
So the final whistle went, and we had won! We really needed the 3 points, and the lads did not disappoint. Mrs Nash’s flannel was not needed! We have now moved up to 16 place. Let’s continue the hard work, and beat Long Melford in the Cup on Tuesday night.
We had a slight debate on who should be MOTM. After reviewing the match, I am pleased to award the honour to Jamie ‘Rocky’ Solkhon. He worked extremely hard throughout, made some great challenges and capped it off with a goal. Well done Solks.
Thanks for reading.