Football: Saffron Walden defeated in Vase thriller

Saffron Walden Town 3 FC Clacton 4

Buildbase FA Vase 2nd Round

Saturday 2nd November


SAFFRON Walden’s FA Vase campaign was ended in a seven-goal thriller at Catons Lane that saw two goals scored in the opening five minutes.

The Seasiders wasted no time in taking the lead, as straight from kick-off they worked the ball into the Saffron Walden box and Ricky Griggs then pulled the trigger and fired his side into the lead after only 44 seconds on the clock.

But it didn’t take the Bloods long to draw blood themselves; they were back on level terms on 5 minutes as Charlie Cole drilled a shot past Joe Fowler.

After that break-taking start it was not surprising that both teams then dug-in a bit, with plenty of challenges from the defenders to stop their opponent’s forwards causing anymore damage. And with both teams electing to get the ball down and play meant that you could sense there were more goals in this one. The rain it seemed was not going to dampen the spirits of either side and back teams had their moments going forward, a tumultuous back and forth that was simply a pleasure to watch.

And of course there was to be another goal in the 16th minute as Gavin Cockman muscled his way into Clacton’s box, delivering a pinpoint cross that Lewis Francis buried into the back of the net to hand the hosts the lead.

Saffron’s next attack also nearly bore fruit. A lovely cross-pitch pass found Francis in aches of space but his shot was blocked. And at the other end Clacton looked dangerous down the wings meaning that Purdue and his defence had to deal with the occasional cross.

The visitors were able to drew themselves level in the 25th minute after Purdue managed to keep out Chris Ribchester’s header but Adam Hampson was able to stab the ball over the line. Four goals already, it was shaping up to be a classic Vase encounter.

The hosts nearly re-took the lead three minutes later when the Bloods played the ball quickly from defence to attack, with Cockman’s final shot producing a great save from Fowler to keep out.

Then in the 33rd minute Clacton once again turned the game on it’s head as they went on to re-take the lead. Harry McDonald’s heat-seeking missile of a cross was headed on by Ribchester, and after a scramble, Hampson pounced again and poked the ball home from close range.

The visitors crafted another opportunity to add to their tally in the 41st minute; McDonald holding the ball up, before threading it through to Griggs whose shot was then tipped around the post by Purdue. Clacton controlled the possession in the final minutes of the first half, but that didn’t stop the Bloods almost equalising in the 45th minute with a cross being headed wide by Ryan Fleming.

That was not to be the last of the action as for as the first half was concerned. There was still a bit of stoppage time and in the second minute of it the Seasiders were able to extend their lead, thanks in part to Jordan Lartey free kick that swept into the box and was headed past Purdue by Griggs. So the player that had opened the half with a goal in the opening seconds was able to do the same in the closing stages, giving his side a 4-2 lead at the break.

The Bloods as to be expected opened the second half on the front foot with Francis managing to get a couple of early crosses over. One of them was headed away by Ribchester, who needed to put in a robust challenge to get to the ball and head it away from the danger zone.

However in the 54th minute Saffron Walden were able to pull one back via a cross which was headed home by Fleming.

The visitors rallied straight away and a minute later Hampson was bearing down on goal, but his attempt at completing his hat-trick was to be denied as Purdue tipped his shot away. Scott Pethers then had to deflect a Griggs shot away for a corner, and the Bloods then had to defend a further corner as their visitors pressed for another goal and always looked a threat going forward. Captain Pethers had to show furhter stout defending when he has to make a last-ditch tackle to dispossess Hampson just as he was about to unleash.

A Saffron Walden free kick saw Cockman blaze his shot straight into the wall, and then with his second attempt Cockman again could only slam a ball straight into a defender. Clacton’s defence by now were shutting up shop, meaning a Spike Bell cross was blocked twice before being cleared. And then in the 72nd minute a ball over the top set Cole free on goal but Ribchester stayed on his tail , while Fowler was alert to the danger and charged out of his box and hooked the ball clear. The Clacton keeper also saved a Pethers header.

The Bloods were throwing everything in to get an equaliser and Cole knocked down a ball into the path of Nathan Scarborough, but Clacton’s defence soon swamped him out. And in the 80th minute Ribchester had to stretch out his leg to deflect away a ball that was directed towards Cole.

In the 82nd minute McDonald gave chase to a ball played down the right wing, but Fleming got to the ball first. Clacton continued playing balls into the corners, as they started winding down the game, but Griggs did almost complete his hat-trick with a shot-on-the-turn that was only inches too high.

Greg Strong was able to get to the byline and put a cross into Clacton’s six-yard box that was headed clear. Then three minutes from time a Cockman free kick was deflected by the wall, but the ball was reworked and ended with Gary Bowes delivering a cross towards the back post that needed resolute defending from the visitors. Having repelled that effort, FC Clacton then had the final attack of the game, however Purdue’s legs were able to prevent McDonald from getting on the score sheet.

A classic Vase game then came to an end, with Saffron Walden having played their part, but FC Clacton were ruthless, and have now taken their third ESL scalp on route to placing their name into Monday’s 3rd Round draw.


Saffron Walden Town: Jayden Purdue, Spike Bell, Tom Skelton, Ryan Fleming (George Pullen 85′), Scott Pethers (Capt), Jamie Riley, Lewis Francis (Gary Bowes 68′), Jack Isherwood (Nathan Scarborough 75′), Charlie Cole, Jack Leachman, Gavin Cockman.

Scorers – Charlie Cole (5′), Lewis Francis (16′), Ryan Fleming (54′).

FC Clacton: Joe Fowler, Zach Smith-Walter, Billy Wales, Kyelan Marvell (Capt) (Charlie Thompson 38′), Chris Ribchester, Ollie Lamb, Jordan Lartey (Jake Richardson 90+1′), Jack Clampin, Adam Hampson, Harry McDonald, Ricky Griggs.

Scorers – Ricky Griggs (1′, 45+2′), Adam Hampson (25′, 33′).

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