So, after a break over the New Year the mighty Bloods and fans made the long trip to Fakenham in sunny Norfolk.
I had this feeling that things would start looking up, and we would soon climb the league. I was told over the Christmas break that Ben ‘The Beast’ Lawrence decided to call it time on his Walden career and left the club. A lot of the fans were gutted and I knew the Bloods would miss his leadership and skills at the club - especially the long throws.
I was then told that Chris Reid had left the club and moved to the North West. There went two of the key players in the team. I thanked them personally and via the blog for what they had done for us. As fans you always hate to see your players leave, but understand that life should always come first.
Fakenham 1 – Saffron Walden 1
2nd January 2016
We arrived in plenty of time and the sun was trying to come out. The pitch looked in excellent condition, and they had cover behind both goals – which is always a bonus this time of year. I met up with the usual away fans, and wished them all Happy New Year.
We were very impressed by the loud home fans. They did not stop cheering. They also had a few horns and drums. It was great to see and we had some good banter.
Sticko was serving a one match ban so he was not in the dugout. The management had awarded U18 players Jamie Dicker and Jake Thompson with their debut first team starts
TEAM: Floyd Croll, Jamie Dicker (Paul Abbot (Pabbo) – 55 mins.), Jamie Solkhon (Rocky), Marc Abbot (Mabbo), Stuart Hoskins, Ryan Fleming (Rhino), Craig Calver (Wig), Jake Thompson, (James Crane (Road Runner/RR) – 55 mins.), Joe Murphy (Boss) (Neil Andrews – 80 mins.), Spike Bell, Louis Harper.
Fakenham had the better start to the match, and were award an early free kick which was taken by Dye. The free kick was headed clear, by Rhino for a Fakenham throw-in. The throw-in did not trouble the Bloods defence.
The Boss came very close to opening the scoring in the 7thminute, when his flicked header hit the unmarked post. A fraction to the right, and it would have been 1-0 to the Bloods. Now I initially thought it came off Jake Thompson’s head, but Paul’s report confirmed I was wrong. #wengermoment
Thompson looked strong in his midfield role, and won the ball back in Fakenham’s own half. He passed the ball to Mabbo, who sent in a dangerous cross, but the cross was headed off for a Walden corner. Harper took the corner, but Flemo was penalised for a foul and the referee gave a free kick to Fakenham.
Wig started to frustrate the Fakenham defence, and was tripped again just outside the box. The referee awarded a free kick. Harper decided to take a shot; and came close, but Rix made a great save for a corner ball. The corner was easily caught by Rix.
30 minutes in, and it was looking very bleak. I even sat down for a bit with Carol to reflect on the game. Sorry lads, but it couldn’t always be good news.
39 minutes into the match, and Fakenham had a corner ball but the ball ended up on the roof of Croll’s net.
42 minutes into the match, and Wiggy came close with a shot across Rix. The shot beat Rix but was wide of the post.
In the last minute Wig went down in the box, but was not given a penalty.
HT – Fakenham 0 – Walden 0
The Bloods started the second half well, and started to look like the better team. Wig won the Bloods another free kick outside the box, for Harper to take. Harper played the ball short to Wig, who turned and went for the cross. The shot was deflected by the defender, and the Bloods called for handball. The handball was not given, so we settled for the corner. The corner found Rocky in space, who headed at Rix. The ball deflected off Rix and Franks managed to clear the ball for another Walden corner. The corner went over the box, and Harper collected the ball. He crossed the ball back into the box, and Thompson managed to get his head to the ball, but it went wide of the post.
As we cheered on the Bloods, two young lads walked past us banging on toy drums singing ‘Barmy Army’. They couldn’t have been much older than five. All these instruments were giving me an idea!
55 minutes into the match, and Dicker and Thompson made way for Pabbo and Road Runner (RR).
68 minutes into the match, and Youngs hit the bar, with a header from a corner. The Boss jumped at the rebound and cleared the ball away.
72 minutes in, and Bell charged into the box, and squared the ball to Wig. Wig’s shot forced a great save from Rix.
The much-needed first goal was scored by Walden from a sweet move in the 86th minute. A superb diagonal pass from Andrews, gave Wig some space on the left, and his accurate shot found the far corner of the net.
As we looked to have wrapped up the three points, disaster struck for the Bloods in the 94th minute. Rix punted the ball up the pitch in one last desperate attack, and the ball found its way through to Harris who knocked the ball over the diving Croll and agonizingly into the far corner of the net.
It ended 1-1, and we were gutted. I was lost for words, and I didn’t quite know what to think. This has happened on a few occasions where we have either lost or ended up dropping 2 points. The game did look like it was shaping up to be nil nil, and a point away is a good result.
The fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Wig Calver.
Next we were meant to visit Clacton but the game was postponed. So it was back to the Meadow, and we welcomed the ‘Barmy Army’ to our gaff.
Saffron Walden 4 – Fakenham Town 1
16th January 2016
It’s been a long 9 months since we had a home win at the Meadow, but the ‘curse’ has finally been lifted
I got to the ground and was greeted by a concerned looking Chairman. The pitch was looking a little frozen in places, and the referee was in two minds whether to call the game off. So after hearing that I grabbed a folk, and helped spike the ground to get the pitch ready from action! I was joined by Ade, Martin, Master Johnson and the mighty Paul Abrahams!
I certainly had done my 15 minutes of cardio, as I was baking hot after. As a result the referee delayed the game by 15 minutes, but gave us the all clear and the match was on. Phew!
Before the match I awarded Jake Noble with his certificate and voucher for Player of December.
F Floyd Croll, Paul Abbot (Pabbo), Dan Grindrod (Viking), Jake Noble (Nobby), James Solkhon (Rocky), Stuart Wardley ( (Sticko), Craig Calver © (Wig), Marc Abbott (Mabbo), Graeme Turner (G Man), Spike Bell, Louis Harper
Subs: Stuart Hoskins, Neil Andrews, Joe Murphy (Boss), Charlie Dicker and Sam Soutar (GK)
We lost the toss, so we started the match kicking towards Catons Lane. We started the game very well, with some great early pressure. Bell and G Man came out the blocks like a greyhound from a trap. I asked for the boys to show some fire in their bellies, and they did not disappoint. Their communication looked spot on, which rattled Fakenham’s defence
Sticko floated a lovely ball over the top of the defence, for G Man to run onto. G Man held the ball up well, and forced the defender to concede a goal kick. Viking took the corner, but we couldn’t get a shot on goal. Straight after the corner, there seemed to be a little bit of ‘hand bags at dawn’, but the lads soon calmed down.
10 minutes into the match, and G Man was making the defence nervous. He was timing his run perfectly and using his strength and pace. The defence panicked with his clearance, and punted the ball out for a throw-in. We did call for the Beast as a sign of respect to our former captain.
Harper came extremely close with a great long range effort, but it was brilliantly saved by Rix. It was one of those moments, where the fans cheer before the ball crosses the line.
After 27 minutes, the pressure had paid off. Harper passed to Wig, just inside the 18 yard box. Wig found some space and struck at goal. The ball took a slight deflection and ended up in the back of the net. 1-0 to the Bloods!
Not long after we finished celebrating Wigs goal, Fakenham had equalised. Williams floated in a free kick, which was well headed in by Kyle Plumb. 1-1! I did ask Rix to confirm who scored, but he wasn’t sure. At the time I didn’t care as it was a soft goal, and the lads should have done better.
Our second goal was scored by G Man, and what a beaut! Rix decided to come off his line, and try and head the ball clear. He couldn’t catch the ball as he was out of his area. The header fell to G Man, and G lobbed the ball from 25 yards into the back of the net. 2-1 to the Bloods! The goal was on the 39th minute. Nigel B was on the tweets, and he tweeted the following: Goooooooooallll! And what a finish! @Gstar_88 with a cheeky sneaky dinky lob from outside the box….. Now that had to be a contender for - Bloods tweet of the season.
It was getting to the end of the first half, and the fans were really impressed by the sheer grit and determination the players were showing. Every player’s contribution was spot on.
We started the second half well, with our first chance coming from Bell. Wig passed the ball to Bell, who had his back to the goal near the penalty spot. He managed to turn and shoot, but it was straight at Rix.
Fakenham were not out of the game and Williams had a decent chance on goal. His shot was scuffed and comfortably collected by Croll.
50 minutes in, and Fakenham had a corner. The ball was floated into the box, and it could have been a golden opportunity for the visitors to equalise. Jon Waters described it as a Melee. I must admit, I had to look that up… Anyway we managed to get the ball away from the danger zone.
Fakenham continued to push, when Harris was threaded a great through ball. Rocky slid in and successfully cleared the danger. This Fakenham pressure started to silence the Bloods fans.
61 minutes in, and the fans really wanted that third goal to finish off Fakenham. The temperature had dropped and the fans were getting chilly….Well, Mrs. Nash was moaning she was cold and the flannel was about to make an appearance.
66 minutes into the match, and Bell put the Bloods 3-1 up. He rose well to meet Wigs cross, and floated the ball into the back the net with his head. 3-1 to the Bloods! Come on! That certainly warmed us up.
G Man was having the perfect day, and brilliantly scored his second. He controlled Harpers cross and played the ball onto his foot, to calmly slot the ball past Rix. It was a lovely effort for G Man. 4-1 to the Bloods and there was no coming back for Fakenham.
Bell came very close to scoring a brace, as Wig crossed the ball into the box. Bell didn’t get the connection he needed to make it 5-1. But 10 out of 10 for effort
The Viking was replaced by Stuart Hosking. Hoskins went to centre back, and Rocky went to the left back position. It was great to see him back in the team.
84 minutes in, and Bell was replaced by U18’s Charlie Dicker. Dicker didn’t look out of place on the wing, and was not afraid to take on the left back. He has great potential, and with hard work I can see him being a future regular for the first team.
The game finished Walden 4 – Fakenham 1. Our group of fans had a whip round, so we could treat the lads to a well-earned drink after the match.
The fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Graeme Turner.
Saffron Walden 3 – Ipswich Wanderers 0
23rd January 2016
‘Wardley’s Walden find Wanderers Wanting’ was my headline to this games blog. Following last week’s 4-1 win, the Bloods continued their great form. Walden’s first season in the Premier League has not been easy. Half way through the season, we could clearly see the difference in level of quality between step six and step five. After a shaky six months, the boys have now found their form. If Ruud Gullit had been watching, he would have used his famous expression - ‘Sexy Football!’
I gave Mrs Nash her drum, and was given serious grief for the size of it. I think they were expecting something a little bit bigger. It’s the thought that counts.
TEAM: Floyd Croll, Spike Bell, Dan Grindrod (Viking), Jake Noble (Nobby), Ryan Fleming (Rhino), Stuart Wardley (Sicko), Craig Calver (Wig), Marc Abbot (Mabbo), Graeme Turner (G Man) (Joe Murphy (Boss) – 78 mins.), James Thomas (Zinedine), Louis Harper (Charlie Dicker – 82 mins.). Substitute (not used): Neil Andrews.
The First Half
Ipswich started the game well, and saw an early effort strike the side netting. This was a wakeup call for the Bloods, who could have found themselves one down in the first few minutes.
Walden responded brilliantly, when G Man dribbled his way through the defence but was pulled back by Hitching. The referee played the advantage but G Man was challenged by the physical Goldfinch. The referee blew the whistle and gave a free kick, where G Man was originally fouled. The back four took their time to get back by ten yards, and the referee was not letting them get away with it. Wig stood over the ball, and produced a beautiful strike into the top of the corner leaving Bradbrook with no chance of saving it. 1-0 to the Bloods!
Bell, Harper and Zinedine linked up well on the wing, and started to split the Ipswich defence. Thomas’ final threw ball was timed perfectly for Bell to run onto. Bell’s cross was cleared for a Bloods corner. Viking took the corner, but it didn’t drop for anyone to get a clear shot on goal. The ball went back to Rhino, who’s shot from distance forced a save out of Bradbrook.
20 minutes into the match, and Zinedine’s brilliant diagonal pass found Wig’s drive up the wing. Wig squared the ball to Mabbo, who shot and struck the inside of the bar. The ball bounced back to G Man, but his shot was brilliant defended for a corner ball.
25 minutes into the match, and Walden had a narrow escape. Had it not been for Bells goal line clearance, Ipswich would have made it one all. Phew, thanks Bellsy!
Deacon came very close to an equaliser, when he took the ball round Croll, but his final shot was brilliantly cleared off the line by the Viking.
I was very impressed by the on-going battle between G Man and Goldfinch. Both players are strong, and tried to muscle each other off the ball. G Man had the height advantage, but Goldfinch was built like a tank.
Croll was first called into action from a dipping long range effort by Deacon. Deacon’s strike was firm, but Croll held onto the ball.
Bradbrook was given banter from the fans, because his label was sticking out of his shorts. He took the banter well and played along with it. Always good to see!
Just before half time, Sticko came close to getting on the score sheet, when he connected with Nobby’s backwards header. Sticko put his foot through the ball, but it went over the bar.
HT: Saffron Walden 1 – Ipswich Wanderers 0
From the minute Ipswich re started the match, Walden were hot on their heels. Bell made an impressive run up the wing, shielding off his opponent. He passed the ball to Wig in the area. Wig slipped slightly but managed to set Harper, but his shot was not clean enough to trouble Bradbrook.
It didn’t take long for Walden’s constant pressure to beat Bradbrook again. Unfortunately for Ipswich it came from an own goal on the 58thaminute. Viking delivered a brilliant corner, and Stuart headed the ball passed Bradbrook, leaving him no chance…..Hey, they all count and full credit to G Man for putting him under pressure! It was now 2-0 to the Bloods.
Just as we finished celebrating the second goal, Bell made it 3-0. Walden cut open the Ipswich defence with a flick-on by Wig to Bell, who calmly slotted the ball past Bradbrook. It was a result of excellent link up play. 3-0 to the Bloods!
After the goal, Martin Johnson got straight onto Twitter and won my tweet of the day. And I quote ‘Total football at Catons Lane as @spikebell7 glorious move makes it 3-0’
Sticko was putting in a solid performance at the back, and put everything he had into his headed clearances. The Bloods family joked, and said he would be sore in the morning.
Soon after, Jennings came close with an effort, but could only manage to hit the side netting.
Mackenzie came close again when his effort hit the bar. A slight let off for the Bloods!
82 minutes into the match, and Harper was replaced by Dicker.
The last five minutes saw more potential opportunities. Wig was through on goal, and looked like he was fouled, but the referee awarded Ipswich with the free kick. It’s a shame because Dicker was free on the penalty spot to potentially open up his first team account.
FT Saffron Walden 3 – Ipswich Wanderers 0
I agree with Paul Daw’s report. The Bloods produced their best football of the season. It was a joy to watch and every single player gave it 100%.
The Fans ‘Man of the Match’ went to Spike Bell
Stanway Rovers 2 – Saffron Walden 1
30th Jan 2016
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.
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!
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.
We won a throw-in, 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 offside, 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 again. 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.
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.
The Bloods finished the first half positively. The lads 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.
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.
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.
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.
Fans Man of the Match went to Jake Noble.
January was a great month. We had finally got our first home win of the season, and the boys were working very hard. With two wins, a draw and a loss I was very happy with the positive attitude of the players and the fans. Things were looking up and I was excited about the next match.
Player of the month – Spike Bell
Best game of the month – Ipswich at home
Worst game of the month – Fakenham away
Goal of the month – Graeme Turner vs Fakenham at home
Away fans of the month – Fakenham
Away ground of the month – Stanway
Thanks for reading