Picture gallery: Football: Saffron Walden Town edge out Fakenham in cracking seven-goal thriller
PUBLISHED: 08:54 16 April 2014 | UPDATED: 08:54 16 April 2014
An incredible match, with an incredible finish, and unbearable tension between two teams giving everything that had in their bids for promotion, resulted in a narrow 4-3 victory for Saffron Walden over Fakenham Town.
The result still leaves seven or possibly eight clubs in with a chance of promotion at the end of the season, with just two weeks to go.
Walden took the game to their second placed visitors in the early stages. Chris Reid and Jamie Solkhon both had efforts cleared off the line in the first four minutes, but in the seventh minute Reid gave away a needless penalty, and Ashley Jarvis scored from the penalty spot to give the visitors a vital early lead.
The Bloods won a succession of corners in the first half, and came closest to scoring in the 25th minute when Stuart Wardley’s free kick was headed against the foot of the post. Three minutes later, in a physical encounter, Reid was injured, and had to be replaced by Louis Harper, resulting in a slight re-organisation of the Walden line-up.
The change seemed to have a beneficial effect as the Bloods started to take more control of the game as the half progressed. The equalizer eventually came in the 38th minute when Craig Calver raced clear on the left, and hit a first time cross into the box which Matt Snelling converted following a lightning 40 yard sprint into the box, for a first class goal.
The Bloods finished the first half strongly and both Snelling and Shaun Avis went close to giving the home team the lead before the interval.
Walden continued the second half where they left off at the end of the first half, and went 2-1 up in the 49th minute when a corner was cleared and was passed out to Harper on the wing, and Solkhon scored from his cross to the far post with a looping header.
Ten minutes of pressure later Solkhon scored an almost identical headed goal from a Harper free kick, to seemingly put the Bloods in a commanding position, but just two minutes later Fakenham hit back when a header from Le Day was caught by Paul Wood, but then dropped over the line after he collided with the post to make it 3-2.
In the 65th minute Fakenham were level with some clinical finishing when Josh Young headed a powerful cross firmly into the roof of the net, and the Bloods were faced with having to do it all over again if they were to get a victory.
To their credit Walden continued to drive forward in a particularly combative closing period of the game, and just as it looked as though it would end all square, in the 90th minute Jamie Solkhon got in a looping header to a Louis Harper free kick, and Alex Riches got the final touch to make it 4-3 to a mighty roar from the sizeable home crowd.
Despite there being very little in the way of injury time, the referee added 11 minutes of added time before awarding Fakenham a hotly disputed penalty following a corner which keeper Wood punched away under great pressure from the tall Fakenham players and the Fakenham keeper who had come forward to assist the attack.
After the uproar had died down, Wood got a firm arm to the spot kick, and then pounced on the ball before it could cross the line, to the jubilation of players and supporters alike. Amid the chaos, there was still time for Stuart Hoskin to be sent off for reasons no one could fathom, but in the 14th minute of added time the final whistle eventually blew to bring to an end an extraordinary game, that left everyone breathless.
WALDEN: Paul Wood, Chris Reid (Louis Harper – 28 mins.), Jamie Solkhon, Matt Snelling, Alex Riches, Stuart Wardley, Craig Calver (John Griffin – 90 mins.), Stuart Hoskins, Shaun Avis, Spike Bell, Jake Noble (Joe Murphy – 85 mins.).