Saffron Walden 4 Cockfosters 3
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Saffron Walden’s last game of the decade saw them go through to the second round of the Errington Challenge Cup after a tense 4-3 victory over Cockfosters on a lively but cold day at Catons Lane.
The two sides had met in the league earlier in the month, with Walden taking the honours with a 2-0 win to move top of the Essex Senior League table.
But the busy December period has blighted Jason Maher's side with many injuries to first team regulars.
Cockfosters, meanwhile, find themselves 20 points adrift in eighth place after a very quiet December and while Ryan Wade's team had the fresher legs going into this match, the Bloods were favourites.
Before kick-off there was a minute's applause for club legend Sid Boyton, who sadly passed away this month at the age of 92.
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The former player, committee member and groundsman at the club was described by club chairmen Stuart Vant as "Mr Saffron Walden Town FC" in his moving tribute.
And the first goal did not take long to arrive, with the Bloods again proving to be a massive threat straight from kick-off as a lovely weighted pass from Craig Calver from inside his own half saw Tyger Smalls behind a high-pressing defence and one-on-one with visiting goalkeeper Josh Mollison.
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Smalls calmly drew Mollison out of position and slotted into the bottom left corner of the net in the second minute.
Six minutes later, Cockfosters' Ceykan Karagozlu did well to slide in to connect with the ball from a Kai Bowers cross into the box but it went straight into the arms of Rob Budd.
On the 10-minute mark, Walden were awarded a penalty when it was deemed Smalls had been body checked by Luke Marshall in the area. Nathan Scarborough stepped up to convert the spot-kick, sending Mollison the wrong way to make it 2-0.
Cockfosters were awarded a penalty 11 minutes later when it was judged that Calver had handled the ball in the defensive wall of a free-kick.
Billy Healy stepped up to take the kick and placed the ball in the left side of the net as Budd went the other way.
From there it was an end-to-end match with chances coming from all over.
George Beattie fired straight at Budd, while Walden's Gavin Cockman made a run down the right and teed up Calver, who had plenty of time and space but scuffed the shot wide.
Calver then had two more chances when Smalls made a run down the left, cut back in and offloaded the ball to him, but Calver just couldn't find enough room to manoeuvre and get a clean shot off and the ball went out of play.
A few minutes later another cross from Cockman deep on the right found Calver, who took a few touches to control the ball but his shot went wide at the left post.
Cockfosters had another chance when Marcus Crowther's cross from the left byline found Karagozlu in the six-yard-box but he could only chest the ball wide of the far post.
The second half started with the hosts on the attack and Calver crossed from the right to find Cockman, who headed into the path of Jake Noble to make it 3-1.
Two minutes after that, Cockfoster's high defensive line nearly cost them another goal when a pass from Noble played in Calver, who cut in and forced Mollison into a diving save.
Mollison was kept on his toes again when a long throw from Cockman found the head of Ross Adams, but the ball was easily collected.
In the 66th minute Cockfosters got back to within one goal when a high lingering cross from Karagozlu found an unmarked Beattie at the back post and he found the net.
But Walden again pulled two goals clear in the 74th minute, when Calver crossed into the box to Noble, who passed to Scarborough to place the ball into the back of the net for his second goal.
Cockfosters replied four minutes from time when a deflected shot from Crowther sent Budd the wrong way, raising hopes of forcing a penalty shoot-out.
Then, from the last play of the game, keeper Mollison came up for a corner and got his head on the ball, but hopes of a dramatic equaliser were snuffed out by Walden as the Bloods progressed.