Picture gallery: Saffron Walden Town hit six past Braintree Town Reserves in front of bumper gate at Catons Lane

Walden celebrate debutant Jordan Barra's goal. Pictures by Dennis Savill

Walden celebrate debutant Jordan Barra's goal. Pictures by Dennis Savill - Credit: Archant

Saffron Walden Town’s ‘pay what you want’ initiative for supporters proved a huge success on Saturday, with a bumper crowd treated to some of the most exciting football at Catons Lane this season.

Joe Murphy challenges for the ball. Pictures by Dennis Savill

Joe Murphy challenges for the ball. Pictures by Dennis Savill - Credit: Archant

Walden put in an excellent performance and were worthy 6-2 winners as they smashed in six goals to see off Braintree Town Reserves in an absorbing contest.

The crowd was the largest of any Thurlow Nunn League fixture this season.

Vice-chaiman of the Bloods, Martin Johnson hailed the initiative as a “big success”, adding: “It was a fantastic match and performance by the team, and a great atmosphere.

“The second half – with five goals without reply into the Catons Lane end – was the most exciting football we’ve seen this season.

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“It was also encouraging to see so many of the players from the SWTFC youth teams come along and support the senior team. Some of the young lads were collecting autographs at the end of the match and that was great to see and bodes well for the future.”

For three quarters of the match it was a competitive contest, with the result very much in doubt. But a strong finish from the Bloods enabled them to achieve a comfortable victory.

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The hosts made a good start when in the 3rd minute Shaun Avis had a shot blocked by the visiting keeper, and Spike Bell skillfully lobbed the ball back over him and into the net for an early opening goal.

The Bloods played the ball around confidently in the first 10 minutes, but after 12 minutes they gave away an unnecessary penalty when Stuart Wardley blocked an attacker in trying to see the ball off for a goal kick. The referee awarded a penalty and Perry Flatts scored comfortably from the penalty spot for the equaliser.

Braintree were playing the quick ball forward with great effect, and in the 24th minute from a Walden drop kick by Jason Harvey, Joe Moore hit a first time return ball precisely over the Walden defence, and Flatts ran onto to hit a first time volley into the back of the Walden net from 20 yards.

The Bloods responded with Wardley shooting over, and Craig Calver having a header deflected for a corner, but Braintree were always dangerous on the break, and probably deserved their lead at the interval.

Flatts forced a full length save from Harvey early in the second half, but from that point on the Bloods responded magnificently with a powerful second half display, which eventually overwhelmed their opponents.

Walden should have equalised in the 54th minute when Calver did well to round the keeper and lay the ball back to Avis, who struck the foot of the post with only a defender to beat on the goal line. However, two minutes later he made up for the miss by steering a left wing cross from Jamie Solkhon into the top right hand corner for the equaliser.

The home team continued to create chances and eventually took the lead in the 71st minute when a good move down the left saw Avis volley Calver’s cross into the net for his second goal.

Four minutes later Calver won a corner, and from Bell’s cross Jamie Solkhon headed powerfully home to make it 4-2.

The Bloods were now rampant and in the 84th minute Wardley found Matt Snelling with a fine through ball, and from his cross to the far post, debutant Jordan Barra scored with a flying header having only been on the pitch for barely four minutes.

The scoring was not over and in the 90th minute Bell crossed to Solkhonwho scored with another firm header at the far post for his second goal of the game, to complete a victory by an unexpected four goal margin, and send the large crowd home happy.

WALDEN: Jason Harvey, John Griffin, Jamie Solkhon, Matt Snelling, Chris Reid, Stuart Wardley, Craig Calver (Ben Riches – 84 mins), Stuart Hoskin (Cameron Watson – 80 mins), Shaun Avis, Spike Bell, Joe Murphy (Jordan Barra – 80 mins)

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