Sub Harper turns Walden's fortunes in Team Bury triumph
PUBLISHED: 15:20 08 September 2014 | UPDATED: 15:20 08 September 2014
Louis Harper's inclusion at the interval was the catalyst to a much improved second half performance which saw Saffron Walden come from a goal behind to secure 3-2 victory at Team Bury.
The Bloods started the game extremely sluggishly and looked as though they were suffering after the extra-time FA Cup defeat against Welwyn Garden City on Wednesday night.
During the frantic opening half hour, the only opportunities fell Walden’s way, albeit only half chances. A Craig Calver cross from the left evaded everyone, and, after good pressing from Matt Snelling and Shaun Avis, Pete Davis blasted over from the edge of the box.
Despite not threatening in the first 30 minutes, Team Bury caught Walden’s backline napping on a few occasions as the first half neared completion. If not for goalkeeper Floyd Croll, the Bloods could quite easily have found themselves two or three down at the break.
The deadlock was broken three minutes before the interval when Roger Mari curled the ball into the net after Walden failed to clear their lines from a corner.
Team Bury had a chance to make it two moments later when Saffron Walden lost the ball in the middle of the park and they mounted a quick attack. With both full backs in advanced positions, Croll was left exposed at the back and only a superb one-handed save ensured the Bloods went in just one behind at half-time.
Harper was introduced as Matt Snelling went off with an ankle injury and Stuart Wardley switched the formation to 4-4-2.
The changes had an immediate effect and within 10 minutes of the restart, the away side were level. After Calver was fouled on the left touchline, Harper whipped in a devilish ball that was bundled over the line after Jamie Solkhon’s initial header cannoned off the bar.
Just three minutes later, Walden were ahead and the half-time tactics had paid dividends. An incisive pass from Joe Murphy was perfectly weighted for Harper to expertly slot home past the onrushing keeper.
Looking to put the game to bed, Ryan Fleming, making his Saffron Walden debut, sent a header wide of the post from a corner, while a penalty appeal was turned down when James Crane appeared to be upended in the box.
Shortly before Walden made the game safe with a third goal, the home side put together their best move of the match and were unlucky not to make the game all square. A neat move down the right saw a wicked cross only just elude Nomo Souso, who was arriving at the back post.
However eight minutes from time, Walden grabbed a third. Murphy and man of the match, Harper instigated a free flowing move which Calver finished expertly from a tight angle.
The final few minutes became very scrappy and the referee produced a flurry of yellow cards after a Crane tackle caused a scuffle near the dugouts. Crane was booked for his initial tackle while Bury’s Mari was also carded for his reaction. Murphy, who had already been subbed at this point, was also shown a yellow card for squirting water from the dugout.
With the full-time whistle approaching, Team Bury were awarded a penalty for a foul by captain Chris Reid. Souso stepped up and sent Croll the wrong way. Fortunately there was barely enough time to restart the game and Walden just about did enough to take the points.
The Bloods next fixture sees them take on Barking in the Essex Senior Cup on Tuesday night at Catons Lane, 7.45pm.
TEAM: Floyd Croll, Peter Davies, Jamie Solkhon,Matt Snelling, Alex Riches, Chris Reid, Craig Calver, Joe Murphy, Ryan Fleming, Shaun Avis, James Crane.
Subs: Charlie Gray, Anthony Choat, James Richardson, Louis Harper, Ross Laird.