Football: Stansted flying after beating Saffron Walden Town

Football / Sun 16th Dec 2018 at 05:45pm














Saffron Walden Town 3 Stansted 5

Essex Senior League

Saturday 15th December 2018

Report & Photo by Peter Dudley


Callum Ibe netted a brace as Stansted moved back to the summit of the Essex Senior League Premier Division after they netted five in an extraordinary derby at Catons Lane against Saffron Walden Town on a cold and wet afternoon in North West Essex.

This was billed as ‘game of the day’ in the division as fourth placed Walden, who could leapfrog their opponents and take second spot with victory, took on The Airportmen who knew a win would take them back above Hullbridge and reclaim top spot in the league.

Walden had won the corresponding fixture at Hargrave Park 1-0 in front of 250, and a similar crowd were in attendance for this one to see who would come out on top in this much anticipated matchup.  I myself had predicted a tight home win, but what do I know!!!

The visitors certainly began the match the better and soon saw a couple of early chances go by, firstly when Callum Ibe went close and then secondly when Connor Hammond sent a long range effort a foot or so over the hosts bar, but in the eighth minute Stansted led when Ibe cut inside and curled a beautiful effort into the far corner and gave the visitors early dominance a goal.

And in the 17th minute the visitors were in dreamland when Ibe was brought down inside the box and saw the referee award a spot-kick, and Hammond stepped up to send the ball into the corner of the net and Stansted were in complete control of this contest.

Saffron Walden, who had not even made it out of the changing room thus far, won a free-kick in a decent position, and Spike Bell, who was making his 400th appearance for The Bloods and had been at the club since U12s, smacked home the set-play and suddenly the hosts were back in this contest.

Walden skipper Ryan Fleming then almost netted a leveller when his header from a Bell corner was cleared off the line, and then moments later another Walden effort deflected wide as they were now on the front foot.  But then Walden player Mason Taylor suffered an injury soon after and was carried off by two of his teammates, and then bundled down the tunnel by a volunteer.

We all thought maybe a twisted/sprained ankle perhaps, however it turned out to be a broken leg, so we wish him a full and speedy recovery, and it halted momentarily what had been an electric opening to the game.

Charlie Turner, Stansted’s keeper, had to be alert to save another hosts effort, whilst down the other end Ibe almost got onto a ball forward, but six minutes before the break a huge moment of controversy saw the hosts level, and after a ball was headed towards goal, Turner was bundled over the line and the ball ended up in the net.

We all thought surely a foul on the keeper, but no, referee Graham Swanton allowed the goal and saw a furious Stansted surround the linesman on the near side, resulting in a booking, but the visitors were furious but the contest was now all square.

Stansted though used this negative to fuel a wonderful move that led to them re-taking the lead two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the first half, and saw the move finished off by Ibe, who applied a close-range finish, and it meant the visitors went into the break 2-3 up.  It had been a breathless half of football and almost made you forget about the horrid conditions, almost!

Stansted skipper Billy Coyne saw a deflected free-kick zip just wide of the hosts post as conditions were now very tricky for both sides, but just before the hour mark Walden were awarded a penalty after Dan Trendall had been brought down inside the box, and Lewis Francis stepped up to ram home the spot-kick and the game was level once again.

Ibe then tried to restore the visitors lead once again, sending an effort through a crowd of players but seeing Neil O’Sullivan save, whilst down the other end Trendall saw a close-range effort brilliantly tipped over by Turner, as this absorbing contest continued to give and give.

And just six minutes after Walden had levelled, Stansted yet again checked their opponents’ stride by re-taking the lead for the second time in this contest as a break saw Ibe down the left-hand side and with fellow attacker Jack Mitchell all alone in the middle, he squared the ball to him and Mitchell shrugged off a recovering defender before slotting beyond O’Sullivan and give his side the advantage again.

The Bloods so nearly fought straight back though as Craig Calver slotted an effort across the goal but wide of the far post, as this wonderful game ebbed and flowed in the pouring rain at Catons Lane, and it was still very much in the balance.

The Airportmen almost netted a fifth when a close-range effort flew through a crowded area and needed a smart save from O’Sullivan to keep the ball out, before the hosts then bundled a corner wide of the post up the other end.

James Peagram, who was making his debut for his new club, was on as a second half substitute, and he unsurprisingly netted his first goal for the club with five minutes remaining, volleying home a cross that had deflected towards the back post into the far corner, and cued celebrations in that corner of the ground as it was the clinching moment in this super contest.

It means the visitors go back top of the division, whilst Walden remain in fourth but are now five points off the leaders.  What a game it had been, and well worth the journey and freezing my proverbials off.  My hands and feet have just been handed back to me!!!





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