Stansted's promotion hopes take wings as Walden left nursing their bruised ambitions

Michael Toner saw red late on as Saffron Walden Town lost 1-0 to Stansted.

Michael Toner saw red late on as Saffron Walden Town lost 1-0 to Stansted. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Saffron Walden Town missed an opportunity to close in on an Essex Senior League promotion spot as Stansted took the honours in a top of the table clash.

Walthamstow look odds-on to clinch the title with a 12-point advantage and 16 games left to play, but second place this season carries a promotion play-off match at the very least, with the possibility of the team finishing them being automatically promoted.

That depends on their points-per-game matched to teams from the remaining step five leagues around the country.

One goal was all that was needed to settle the contest at Hargreave Park in front of a crowd of 433, and depending on the colour of your scarf, it was either heartbreaking or the greatest thing you've ever seen.

It had been a game full of spirit, if not quality with the heavy pitch taking its toll, but it looked to be heading towards a stalemate.

But with the clock showing time added on, Stansted were awarded a penalty for a handball, a shot from the right side of the area ruled to have hit the arm of a Walden defender as he made a desperate attempt to block.

Connor Hammond (left) scored the only goal as Stansted beat Saffron Walden Town.

Connor Hammond (left) scored the only goal as Stansted beat Saffron Walden Town. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Connor Hammond coolly converted the spot-kick to give Stansted the 1-0 success and all three points.

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There was still time for a red card to be shown to Walden's Michael Toner but the visitors couldn't find an instant equaliser.

There is a full league programme scheduled for Saturday with Saffron Walden's trip to Stanway Rovers another huge game for the Bloods' promotion ambitions.

Walden it sixth with Rovers two places and seven points ahead, although having played three more games.

Stansted are now just one point behind Redbridge in second and are back at Hargreave Park on Saturday when they entertain Sawbridgeworth Town in another derby game.

The big meeting between the Airportmen and Redbridge takes place on February 19 at Stansted.

Takeley meanwhile make the short trip to Woodside on Saturday to face Enfield.

Walden's next home game is the huge FA Vase fourth round clash with Loughborough Students.

The United Counties League Premier Division North side visit Catons Lane on January 15.

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