Saffron Walden Town edge out Needham in nine-goal thriller at Catons Lane
- Credit: Archant
SAFFRON Walden got their season back on track on Saturday after a nine-goal thriller with Needham Market Reserves.
The Bloods went into the games on the back of two disappointing defeats, in the FA Cup at Felixstowe and then in midweek on league duty at home to Haverhill Borough.
But six of the best lifts Walden up to seventh and puts their league campaign now firmly back on track.
Speaking after the game, joint boss Colin Wallington stressed that “the result was the key thing that mattered”.
“We needed the win to get back on track and we got it,” he added.
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Playing in a 3-5-2 formation, Walden got off to the best possible start in three minutes when Joe Murphy swept home a corner from the right to give them an early lead.
Needham then had a good spell of possession as they looked for a way back into the match but Walden had the greater cutting edge, and on 15 minutes Matt Snelling – whose late runs would be a threat throughout – burst in on goal and shot just wide. Walden continued to turn the screw and after a succession of corners doubled their lead on 20 minutes. In the steady drizzle Needham keeper James Bradbrook spilled a high ball, and Spike Bell laid it off for Craig Calver to slot into the unguarded net
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Two minutes later Calver doubled his tally and added Walden’s third. This time it was a route one strike as a Paul Wood kick out was knocked down by Ross Laird for Calver to slot past Bradbrook.
At this stage Walden were on easy street, but Needham were not lying down. After a fine effort by Wes Doyle was well saved by Wood, they got back into it on 33 minutes when Ace Howell headed against a post from a corner, only for the ball to strike the in-rushing Alex Riches and bounce off him and into the net for the cruellest of own goals. Howell then shot just over, before a Dan Grindrod pile-driver from 35 yards went just over. Further chances came and went at both ends before Walden made it 4-1 on the stroke of half-time. This time Calver turned provider as he bore in on goal only to square for Laird to slot home.
The second half started brightly with Walden looking for number five. Bell twice and Laird all had shots on the Needham goal, before Calver struck the post on 55 minutes. Laird and Calver then had further efforts as Walden again threatened.
After a flurry of substitutes Bell finally made it five on 75 minutes. Calver was again at the heart of things as he turned his man inside the box and centred from the bye line for Bell to tap in at the far post.
Needham kept going though and two minutes later a mazy dribble and finish from Doyle made it 5-2.
It was game on again on 88 minutes as Josh Strickland strode forward and unleashed a 30-yard thunderbolt which flew in off Wood’s left hand post.
As Needham looked for a fourth, Walden were able to pick them off on the break and there was still time for a corner from substitute Louis Harper to be volleyed in over his shoulder by Laird in stoppage time.
Next up, Saffron Walden are away at Debenham on Saturday, 3pm kick off.
Saffron Walden: Paul Wood, Chris Reid, Dan Grindrod (Jamie Solkhon, 84 mins), Charlie Davies (Louis Harper, 76 mins), Alex Riches, Justin Chrissell, Spike Bell, Joe Murphy (Cameron Watson, 73 mins), Craig Calver, Ross Laird, Matt Snelling. Subs not used: Martin Westcott, Darren Bicknell.