Saffron Walden lack cutting edge as they suffer defeat at Whitton
PUBLISHED: 21:23 17 September 2013 | UPDATED: 21:24 17 September 2013
SAFFRON Walden’s inability to score when dominating a match – which ultimately cost them promotion last season – again struck at unbeaten Whitton United on Saturday and resulted in a narrow defeat in a game they should have won.
Three times during the match the Bloods struck the woodwork and had numerous other shots blocked or saved, as they produced probably their best footballing display of the season.
The Walden strikers are going to have to be more clinical if they are to achieve their aim of promotion, and close the widening gap with the teams in the promotion places.
Whitton started the game in a rush and Walden had to defend two corners in the opening minutes. It took until the 9th minute before the Bloods won a corner, from which Jamie Solkhon struck a fierce shot which was blocked by defenders in the goalmouth before being scrambled clear.
Three minutes later Solkhon nearly scored again from a corner when his header was blocked, but from the clearance Whitton scored a soft goal, when a weak cross found its way through to the surprised Chris Williams who got a touch on the ball and saw it bobble slowly over the line past the wrong-footed Paul Wood in goal.
Matt Snelling went off with an injury a few minutes later to be replaced by Charlie Davies in midfield, and from that point onwards the Bloods dominated the play for the rest of the match.
An indicator of Walden’s luck on the day was highlighted in the 23rd minute when Spike Bell’s right wing cross was headed back by Graeme Turner to Justin Crisell, whose powerful drive thundered against the right hand post, and was scrambled away to safety.
Calver and Harper twice were both just off target with shots before Calver tested the keeper with a curling shot aimed for the top corner in the 36th minute.
Solkhon was frequently involved in the action and a couple of minutes before the interval he did well to get in a testing cross which Bell flicked on to Justin Crisell whose shot was deflected for a corner. Stuart Wardley rose well for the corner, but glanced his header wide of the far post.
Calver had a shot saved low down by the keeper in the 47th minute, and two minutes later Wardley headed a free kick to Louis Harper who just missed the post with his volley.
In the 51st minute Turner found Bell on the wing with a fine header, and Bell cut inside and nearly scored with a spectacular curling shot which hit the face of the crossbar near the far top corner, and was turned behind for a corner. Bell then won a corner with a header, from which Solkhon headed wide of the far post.
Calver and Bell were causing problems for the Whitton defence, and after ceating a near miss for Bell, Calver could have scored after a good run in the 62nd minute but drove his low shot just wide of the right hand post.
In the 73rd minute there was confirmation that it was not Walden’s day when Harper created space for a fine shot which struck a defender and deflected onto the foot of the post for another corner. Two minutes later Calver weaved his way into the box and Shaun Chaplin in the Whitton goal made a good block from close range when the ball struck his cheast.
In the closing stages Dan Grindrod replaced Solkhon, and new signing from Haverhill, Shaun Avis, replaced Turner for a few minutes of frenetic action in the Whitton box. Calver and Grindrod, twice, had shots at goal as the Bloods pressed desperately for an equaliser, but the Whitton defence held on to gain three vital points in their promotion bid.
Coming up for the Bloods is a vital week of three difficult home games, on Saturday with an FA Vase match against Premier Division leaders Norwich United, then midweek against Bowers & Pitsea in the Essex Senior Cup, followed by a tough league match the following Saturday against Swaffham Town.
WALDEN: Paul Wood, Jamie Solkhon (Dan Grindrod – 80 mins.), Cameron Watson, Matt Snelling (Charlie Davies – 17 mins.), Justin Crissell, Stuart Wardley , Louis Harper, Jake Noble, Craig Calver, Graeme Turner (Shaun Avis – 85 mins.), Spike Bell.