Saffron Walden Town's chances of a point thwarted by heroic Stanway Rovers custodian
PUBLISHED: 07:45 04 February 2016
This narrow 2-1 win saw Stanway Rovers move up to second in the league table, but they were pushed all the way by an in-form Saffron Walden Town side, who were denied an equaliser in the closing stages by two world-class saves from home keeper, Nick Punter.
The previous week the Bloods got off to a fine start when Craig Calver scored a terrific free-kick from the edge of the box.
In the ninth minute of this one, Calver had an identical opportunity after Jake Noble was tripped 20 yards from goal, but although the free-kick went over the defensive wall, the keeper was able to make a save.
Two minutes later Walden were a goal down when a long throw found its way through to Floyd Croll, who parried the ball, but was unable to stop Ben Newson’s follow-up shot from close range.
In the 25th minute, Town were level. A corner was swung in, falling to Noble, and he whipped it home from close range for a deserved goal.
Stanway showed their class with a well-rehearsed corner to go back in front just four minutes later.
A near-post cross was met by centre-half Joss Neale, and although under close attention, he managed to steer the ball into the net past Croll from six yards out.
After a stodgy start to the second half, Walden almost emulated Stanway’s second goal to put the visitors back on level terms just beyond the hour.
However, player-manager Stuart Wardley’s near-post header just missed the post and went into the side-netting.
Then, James Thomas went even closer when his header from a free-kick was brilliantly pushed onto the crossbar by Punter for a corner.
The floodlights failed 10 minutes from time, but both teams agreed to continue in the fading light, and if anything Walden raised their game in the closing stages.
In the 90th minute the best move of the game saw Spike Bell’s cross find the head of Graeme Turner, forcing Punter into a wonderful fingertip reaction save.
Two minutes later Thomas headed just wide of the left-hand post, and with the last kick of the match, a superb shot on the turn by Joe Murphy was pushed away at full stretch just inside the post by Punter, whose saves were the difference between the two sides.
Next Saturday the Bloods host Mildenhall Town for the first time in their 144-year history, hoping to make it three home wins in a row. Kick-off is 3pm.