Sunday, 10 April 2016

Saffron Walden 0 - Long Melford 2

Saffron Walden 0 – Long Melford 2

The Meadow

9th April 2016

There are good days, and there are bad days. And today was just one of ‘those’ days. After coming from a brilliant 1-0 away win against Felixstowe confidence was high in the Walden camp. I always enjoy playing Melford, but joy was definitely not the felling I felt as I walked out of the Caton’s Lane gates. Don’t get me wrong the lads worked hard and didn’t give up, but it didn’t help with some outrageous decisions from the officials. I know they are only human, but waiting for the player’s reaction before they raise the flag or blow the whistle is one of my biggest bugbears in football.

Before the match I had the pleasure of awarding Sticko with player of March. As Fiona was taking our photo Wig, Nash and Co were giving it large and asking how much Sticko paid me?! On a serious note, there was no other player who was going to take March’s crown away from Sticko. So, well done old man and keep oiling those knee joints!

Anyway, it wasn’t all bad, the sun was shining, the fans were smiling and of course the banter was flowing. I shall talk you through the game.

The Team

Pacey, Bell, P Abbott (Pabbo), Snelling (Mash), Fleming (Rhino), Moody (Fleming), Calver (C)(Wig), M Abbott (Mabbo), Turner (G Man), Thomas (Zinedine) and Harper. Subs: Drane, Scott, Wardley (Sticko), Andrews

The First Half

It didn’t take long for Melford to silence the home fans. You could tell that Melford’s plan to get an early goal had worked. They started the match full of confidence and moved the ball well. The first attempt was blocked off the line by Fagin, but the ball kindly deflected back to the inform Griffiths, who smashed it past Pacey and into the back of the net. Ummmm! That wasn’t part of the plan! Still there was plenty of time to go and the fans were not concerned at this stage.

The early goal was a wakeup call, and the lads upped their game. There was great link up play and passing between Wig and Mash in the Melford box. The ball was played out to Harper; who struck the ball well, but the defender got a slight touch and the ball dribbled back to Mansfield.

Soon after, Mabbo won the Bloods a free kick outside the area. Harper took the free kick and tried to find G Mans run into space at the back post, but it was well defended by Melford.

10 minutes into the game, and Melford won a corner. Clarke took the corner but it was headed clear by Pabbo.

12 minutes into the match, and Melford won another corner. Clarke sailed the ball over the pack. J Clark ran to gain possession of the ball. He played it back to Swain. Swain sailed a dangerous ball into the box for R Waugh but his headed effort was just wide of the post.

Mabbo played an excellent long ball for G Man to run onto along the wing. G Man did well to bring the ball down and cross the ball into the box for Mashy. Mashy got to the ball, but his headed effort went over the bar.

Bell was working hard, and won the ball back. He played a lovely ball over the defender and into the path of G Man. G Man crossed the ball into the box and it was headed over the bar by one of Melford’s own players. Harper took the corner and found Wig. Wig brought the ball down onto his left foot and made space for the shot, but Wigs effort was well saved by Mansfield.

Quote of the day alert from Mrs Nash was ‘Get up you big bloody lemon’. This was after the Melford player went down far too easy from a challenge by Harper. Lemon was the colour of Melford’s shirts.

Melford were pushing for a second and were causing Walden a few issues at the back. After a scrappy clearance Clarke came close with a long range effort which went over the bar.

20 minutes into the match, and G Man was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty. G and Jackson (our mate Jake) were running for the ball in the area, and from where we were standing (15 yards away) it looked like JJ handled the ball! The ‘should have gone to specsavers’ lino was also 15 yard away, but at a different angle and didn’t see it! So frustrating! We obviously reminded the lino of the rules of football in a calm and concise way.

Bell was looking sharp and ran at the defence. His strike was deflected for a corner ball for Harper to take. The corner did not trouble Melford.

25 minutes into the match and as always, Zinedine was throwing himself at every ball and opportunity. He came close when Wig did well to dribble the ball past to defence, and then put in a dangerous cross. It looked like Zinedine was pulled back, but it was never going to be given.

Walden were working hard to get the equaliser and had more of the possession in the first 30 minutes, but struggled to find the back of the net.

Last week’s MOM Pabbo was working hard, and did really well to make it very difficult for Griffiths to get a clean shot on goal, after he controlled a long ball from Mansfield in the box. In the end his shot went over the bar and dropped on the top on the net.

36 minutes into the match, and Melford 2nd goal happened so quickly. The goal was scored from a set piece, by a looping header by Griffiths, which caught Pacey flatfooted and dropped sweetly into the corner of the net. Not a happy bunch of Walden fans, as we felt there should have been some movement from Pacey. But easier said than done I suppose!

There were no clear cut chances for the Bloods in the closing 10 minutes of the 1st half. They tried hard to create chances, but Melford we playing well and not letting Walden run free. We tried to get Mansfield to smile a bit, with a bit of banter but he stayed very professional and focused on the game. This was a different Mansfield from the one we played against when we beat Melford 3-0 at the Stoneylands. Not one single ‘No Foul’, shout from the big number 1.

HT: Saffron Walden 0 – Long Melford 2


The Second Half

We have never had a straight forward game against Melford, and a comeback was always on the cards. The fans had faith and continued to get behind the lads. Walden started the game well, but struggled to get any clear chances on goal in the first 5 minutes of the second half.

It didn’t take long for Andrews to change things. In the 52nd minute Marc Abbott was substituted for Sticko. Keep working hard Mabbo and a thank you for giving it 100%.

Our first chance in the second half came from a free kick outside the area. Harper tried to find Sticko ghosting in at the edge of the 6 yard box, but Dalziel got his head to the ball first

60 minutes into the match, and G Man did really well to win us a corner. Again, Harper aimed the ball for Sticko, but he was penalised for a foul.

63 minutes into the match, and Mrs Nash’s flannel was out after the referee awarded a free kick to Melford. Clarke took the free kick but it was cleared by Paul.

Shortly after, Paul was not given any rest after he through his body at the ball of Dalzeil’s wicked strike.

Rhino came very close with a header from Harper’s corner. Rhino jumped well, but his effort went over the bar.

65 minutes into the match, and Rowe came very close in making it 3-0, but was denied by the cross bar. He launched himself at Clarke’s free kick, and headed the ball straight at the bar. The Bloods then quickly cleared the danger.

70 minutes into the match, and Wig found himself in the book after his challenge on Griffiths. I didn’t see the foul so can’t comment, but it caused a big reaction from both sets of fans.

72 minutes into the match, and Wig won the Bloods a free kick, as he was tripped by the side line. Harper delivered the ball into the box, but it was headed clear by R Waugh.

Melford had an excellent chance to go 3-0 up with an open goal, but the striker’s effort was wide of the post. I am not convinced if it took a deflection or not?!

78 minute into the match, and the referee and lino missed two blatant hand balls. One of the hand balls was in the 18 yard box and should have been a penalty. Melford managed to get the ball out to the wing, who then, kept the ball in play with his hand. Referee was having a shocker! The fans and players were not happy.

Zinedine continued to work his socks off. He ran onto a long ball by G Man, dribbled the ball into the box, but his cross was blocked for a Bloods corner. Harpers delivery was headed clear by R Waugh, who was certainly earning himself a beer at full time. The ball found Harper in space and he crossed the ball straight in. Zinedine got his head to the cross but it was slightly too high and he headed the ball up and wide.

81 minutes into the match, and Pabbo was replaced by Connor Scott. Good work Pabbo, with some very important blocks.

82 minutes into the match, and Zinedine came so close to getting a goal back. He brilliantly spun the defender in the box, and tried to lift the ball over Mansfield from a tight angle but his effort fizzled over the bar.

85 minutes into match and Pacey denied Clarke a goal. Rowe ran well with the ball and crossed the ball into the box. Clarke’s struck the ball, but it was well saved by Pacey.

88 minutes into the match and Rhino was replaced by Drane. Keep up the great work Rhino. Rhino has been a great asset for the Bloods this season.

Unfortunately the lads lost the match 2-0, but as always never gave up. I tried to get a cheeky ‘selfie’ with Mansfield but he wouldn’t, however he did clap the fans after the match, which is always a great sign of respect. Nice one Mansfield.

MOTM came down to three people, but as always I went with the majority of the votes from the fans. The top 3 players were Bell, Mash and Zinedine. The overall winner and MOTM was James ‘Zinedine’ Thomas. What a great season James has had, and with players like him the future is bright. Well done James. We are now at the stage where we start to talk about fans player of the year, and I am sure that James will be in the running. We shall see!

Thanks for reading…..only 4 more games and 4 more blogs left! I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have writing them.

Next week we are back on the road and travel to Swaffham. Swaffham are struggling at the moment so a win would be would be great to try and finish the season in the top half of the season.

Up The Bloods!

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