Sunday, 31 January 2016

Stanway 2 - Saffron Walden 1

Stanway Rovers 2 – Saffron Walden 1

30th Jan 2016

The last time we visited the Hawthorns, we had at least 450 Bloods fans in tow. It was that epic match where a win would have got us into the last 32 of the FA Vase. Sadly it was not the case and Stanway beat us 1-0 on the day. So it was geared up as a revenge mission.

Stanway have been in good form all season with only one home defeat, so in my opinion getting a result would have been a huge achievement. Walden arrived full of confidence after two back to back wins in the league.

We were missing quite a few players, so Rocky partnered Sticko at the back. We joked about Sticko making it through three matches in a row. He joked and said that he was the reason we had hit form! The old vet still has it in him!

Andrews and Sticko gave U18s Carter, Dicker and Soutar a place on the bench. Again, it shows that hard work pays off. Well done lads. Soutar and the Dicker brothers are becoming regular names on the team sheet.

During the second half there was a power outage of the flood lights, and I was surprised the game was allowed to be continued. The lads ended up playing the last 10, or so minutes in minimum light. We joked about it throughout, with Nigel Bailey’s token attempt, of using the torch on his phone to help the boys out (see pic).

The Team

Croll, Bell, Grindrod (Viking), Noble (Nobby), Solkhon (Rocky), Wardley (Sticko), Calver (Wig), Abbot (Mabbo), Turner (G Man), Thomas (Zinedine) and Harper. Subs: Murphy (Boss), Dicker, Carter, Andrews and Soutar

The First Half

The first 5 minutes were played with caution, as both teams had little build up play. This soon changed after Bell charged up the wing, with the ball at his feet. Bell won us a corner for the Viking to take.  The corner was delivered into the box, but Punter launched himself into the air and comfortably caught the ball.

Stanway’s first threat on goal came from a throw, taken by Cawley. The ball was headed straight back to Cawley, and he crossed the ball back into the box, but Rocky’s flying header cleared the danger.

Harper showed some great skills, by keeping the ball from going off the pitch in the Stanway half. Harper crossed the ball for G Man, but Stanway’s captain - Boyland got there first and cleared the loose ball away from the threatening G Man.

We won a throw on, which Bell took quickly. He threw the ball to Mabbo, who squared it to Nobby. Nobby ran across the face of the D and was tripped, winning the Bloods a free kick 25 yards out. Wig’s effort was on target, but not hard enough to beat Punter.

10 minutes into the match, and Newson scored for Stanway. He met the cross well - at the back post, and struck the ball sweetly into the goal.

14 minutes into the match, and Stanway were looking strong. They won a corner which was taken by Hughes, but the corner was headed off for a goal kick.

As Stanway pushed for a second, our defence worked hard not to be beaten again! Rocky put in a great sliding challenge, which stopped Stanway whipping in a dangerous cross.

20 minutes into the match, and the Bloods upped their tempo. Nobby did well to win the ball back in the middle of the park. He passed the ball to Zinedine; who fancied his chances, and dribbled the ball through three defenders. Unfortunately the ball came away from him, and was scooped clear. It was good to see the lads play with no fear.

21 minutes into the match, and we thought Stanway had scored again but it was ruled offside.

24 minutes into the match, and Croll made a cracking save. Newson’s through ball found Charles in space, and he struck the ball well but not well enough to beat Croll. The loose ball was headed clear by the Viking. In the end Charles was caught for off side, but it showed great focus from Super Floyd.

26 minutes into the match, and Nobby scored! It was after Cawley conceded a corner, when his attempted back header to Punter went off the pitch. Harper floated the ball for Rocky to head down into the box. Nobby got to the ball first and slotted it through the defence and into the back of the net. It was not 1-1.

It wasn’t long before the Bloods found themselves behind. Neale scored with a bullet header from a corner ball. It was well taken, but Neale's run should have been picked up.

The banter with Punter started, when one of his team mates shouted: ‘Stay strong Nicky!’ We must have shouted it every time Walden had a set piece. Punter took it well and made him laugh.

Anyway, before the ‘Stay Strong’ moment G Man won a free kick 25 yards out. The Viking played it short to Wig, who went on a dribble-fest before he could shoot, but his shot was straight at Nicky ‘Stay Strong’ Punter.

Stanway won another corner, but Cawley headed the ball wide. He was heckled after his badly timed back header; which resulted in the corner that the Bloods scored from. You have to love non – league banter. To be fair to Cawley, he didn’t bite once.

We continued to try and fight back, and you could see Zinedine getting frustrated with the constant pushing and shirt pulling every time we had a set piece opportunity. Stanway must have done their research and knew to try and keep him pinned down.

Bell won the ball back in the Stanway half, and went for a long range effort, but it was deflected for a Walden corner. Harper took the corner, but no one could get on the end of it.

44 minutes into the match, and Stanway pushed for a third from a free kick, but their dipping effort was well caught by Croll.

The Bloods finished the first half positively. We tried to attack Punter’s goal but the defence stood up well, and ended the half with their lead intact.

HT: Stanway 2 – Saffron Walden 1

The Second Half

Stanway’s wing play was very good. Charles made a great run, and fed himself a pass around Bell to run onto. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, Rocky slid in and cleared the ball for a corner. Hughes took the corner, but it didn’t trouble the Bloods defence.

Bell showed Charles that two could play at that game - with a great run of his own. He crossed the ball into the box, but it was slightly too high for G Man. Just after Bell’s run and cross Ade screamed ‘Come on Walden’ into my recorder which nearly deafened me…..Stay strong Nicky!

Zinedine won the Bloods a corner, and the banging of the stands metal sheeting had started. The ball was delivered by Harper, but it was well defended and Charles went on the break. It was interesting to see a team with wing play as good as ours. Charles went to cross the ball, but the Stanway forward was caught offside.

Zinedine continued to frustrate Stanway with his fancy foot work, and won the Bloods another corner off Newson’s header. The corner was safely collected by Punter.

63 minutes into the match, and Shaw missed a brilliant opportunity to extend Stanway’s lead. Newson crossed the ball to Shaw, but his shot ended up in row zed.

65 minutes into the match, and Stanway won a corner. It was at this point, we were wondering when the flood lights would be turned on. There was a few pops and spurts from the lights, but nothing else. Anyway the corner was well defended by Rocky’s header.

The next five minutes consisted of Stanway back to back corners, but the Bloods were not going to be undone this time. The lights had finally come on, but only to go back out 10 minutes later. As you can imagine, the banter about the lights was in full flow.

71 minutes into the match, and Harper was replaced by ‘Joe ‘The Boss’ Murphy. Well played again Harper. Keep working hard.

73 minutes into the match, and the Bloods won another free kick. The ‘come on Bloods’ chants were getting louder as we never stopped believing that we could score. Viking took the free kick, but it was well defended.

75 minutes into the match, and Punter dropped the ball from a cross, and the ball ended up underneath him on the floor. Both sets of players pilled in to try and retrieve the ball, but the referee ended up blowing the whistle for a foul on Punter. Wig questioned the decision, because there was no way he had a clear view, but he put ‘Stay Strong Nicky’s’ safety first which is the most important thing.

Stanway’s tried very hard to kill the Bloods off, with yet another corner ball, but the boys kept working hard and stood up well. This was better defending of set pieces from the lads.

80 minutes into the match, and Croll made a brilliant save to deny Charles from scoring. He pushed the ball past his post for another Stanway corner. The Bloods defended well and cleared the ball.

This was when the lights went off, so visibility was pretty bad. The referee did ask both benches if they were happy to continue and they both agreed. Thinking about it now, Stanway needed the points to go second in the league, and we were looking like we could potentially earn a draw. So playing on was a good decision.

90 minutes into the match, and G Man came extremely close, after his lobbed headed was tipped over the bar by Punter. We praised both G Man and Punter for their heroics. The corner was taken by Bell, but Stanway parked the bus. The Viking tried to smash one through the barricade of defenders, but it was well blocked. The ball deflected back to Croll; who was ‘ghosting’ in the Stanway half. He went for a long range effort, but it was caught by Punter.

The Boss had the last chance of the game, when he turned and shot at Punter's bottom left hand corner, but Punter saved the day for Stanway with a brilliant save. Punter really did stay strong!

As the players left the pitch, I was asked to ‘Nibble on that!’ by a Stanway player. I simply replied….Umm no thanks! Shame really, as at the time we were congratulating ‘stay strong’ for keeping them in the match.

FT: Stanway 2 – Saffron Walden 1.

My MOTM goes to Jake ‘Nobby’ Noble. Jake’s game has improved over the last 6 month. I have mentioned in previous Blogs about his great tackling ability and quick thinking. His all round game was very good and capped it off with a goal. Don’t be upset Rocky - you were a close second.

So we lost, but I am proud of the effort the lads put in. Stanway are a very good, physical side and are not easy to beat. I noticed on Twitter, that one of their fans made a comment on how strong Walden was. Always nice to hear that!

On the positive side, Walden Ressies won at home with a 1-0 win over Newmarket. The goal was scored by Coby Game. Well done lads. Keep it up. They play Whitton away on Saturday 6th.

Our next first team match is on Saturday, and is at home to Mildenhall. I will also be awarding Player of January. I decided to put it to a vote on Twitter, as I cannot decide between Bell or G Man. Both players have played brilliantly, but there can be only one! I shall leave that to the fans.

Also the U18s play Histon away on Thursday night, so if you can make it please come and support the Young Bloods.

Have a good week all, and see you Saturday

Up the Bloods


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