Match Report: Saffron Walden 2 – 3 West Essex (Sat 2 Feb) [ESL 2.2.19]

Essex Senior League

Venue: Catons Lane

Attendance: 282

2018-19 Season – Match 45

Saturday 2nd February 2019  – 3pm KO

S Walden: Red & Black Striped Shirts, Black Shorts, Black Socks

W Essex: Yellow & Black Hooped Shirts, Black Shorts, Yellow Socks

West stand tall to record an improbable win at Catons Lane

Report & Photos by Scott W (Twitter: @ScottMHC14)

On a day where all but this match in the Essex Senior League was decimated by the adverse weather this week, I joined ESL President Rob Errington in travelling to Catons Lane for that intriguing clash between promotion-chasing Saffron Walden and mid-table West Essex. The hosts named a strong side with a front two of Daniel Trendall and Charlie Portway, with Craig Calver on the right flank and fellow winger Lewis Francis on the bench. West had the luxury of naming an unchanged starting XI from their win over Enfield last week, which I also covered.

Into the match itself and we’d barely got underway when the Stags silenced the huge home crowd with the opening goal. With a minute on the clock, talisman Michael Mignot bolted down the right flank, evading the home defence before playing in a good centre to strike partner Hakim Medfai who lashed home into the roof of the net from about eight yards. Walden responded with good intent with winger Craig Calver and forward Dan Trendall stretching the visiting defence with their pace and trickery respectively, though the Stags were up for the challenge of blocking their efforts towards goal.

A turning point came on 22 minutes as the hosts were awarded a spot-kick, which the prolific Charlie Portway duly struck home to level things up. The Bloods were not ‘firing on all cylinders’ at this stage though just past the half-hour they spurned a decent chance as a well-directed free-kick found centre-back Karolis Atutis who sent a header breezing just over the crossbar. The Stags roared back at the other end by once again taking the lead on 35 minutes. Energetic midfielder Callum Bloss sent a good low pass in for substitute Symeon Taylor to run onto, and the forward finished calmly past home ‘stopper Neil O’Sullivan. In fairness, Walden hadn’t created enough chances to truly test West custodian Jack Coker by the time the interval arrived.

Half-Time: Saffron Walden 1 – 2  West Essex

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If there was one blemish on the visitors’ record, it was that they conceded too many niggly free-kicks on the edge of their own 18-yard area. Kwame Kwateng’s side were more than useful on the counter-attack, with their pace and fluent passing. Walden did ‘step it up a notch’ after the hour mark, with combative midfielder Jack Mead among those trying to push Jason Maher’s side on. Messrs Portway and Trendall also forced the Stags back four to be consistently alert though again, the clear-cut chances were just not coming. Indeed, the tough tackles and an increasingly tetchy atmosphere on-the-pitch were the things that did come in the latter third of the match. West captain Tom MacLeod had to be substituted with a nasty head injury midway through the half, following a heavy challenge. On 70 minutes, a free-kick for the hosts to the left of the 18-yard area was powered in by substitute Lewis Francis though Coker was watchful in tipping it over the woodwork.

Just as it was starting to look like it wasn’t the hosts’ day, the besieged West defence conceded as Portway was found in a congested penalty area and with that natural striker’s instinct – fired home past Coker to once again bring the Bloods level. If you thought the drama ended there… not by a long shot.

Walden sensed they could end the match strongly though the strong-minded Stags refused to give in while at the other end, the likes of Taylor were giving the home defence a headache or two in the last minutes of the game. With three minutes of normal time remaining, West were awarded a free-kick, just left of ‘the D’ – 20 yards out. Set-piece man Joe Lefley stepped up and struck it sweetly to curl away from O’Sullivan’s grasp (although he got fingertips to it on second look) to send the visitors into (slightly over-zealous) raptures.

Walden continued to probe at the other end for another leveller and were awarded another spot-kick after what what appeared a daft challenge by Bloss in the area. The only thing standing between Charlie Portway and a hat-trick was West goalkeeper Jack Coker. Much to our surprise given his goalscoring record, Portway’s penalty was well-saved by Coker, who kept up his impressive knack of saving spot-kicks this season. Walden kept going, to their credit in search of the equaliser though West held on to gain a hard-earned three points.

Full-Time: Saffron Walden  2 – 3  West Essex

Saffron Walden will be disappointed by the manner of their performance today, though they showed enough to tell you they will be an ever-present threat to most teams in the division. Craig Calver, Jack Mead and Daniel Trendall stood out in my opinion for them, alongside the goal-hungry Charlie Portway. Calver & Trendall with their pace and trickery, Mead for his tigerish nature in midfield and Portway, well he’s just tough to keep quiet for the whole match, it’s as simple as that.

West put in another strong display, showing their increasing belief and they do continue to play good attacking football with pace and trickery that makes it tough for the opposition. In my view, Callum Bloss’ passing shone, though in addition, full-back Emanuel Warzola was strong with his tackling in a committed back four plus Symeon Taylor and Hakim Medfai for their energy and purpose.

All in all, it was another superb advert for the Essex Senior League. For those that believe this division is a tougher one this season, compared to last then this match absolutely endorses that view. Walden stay 4th, while West rise to 10th, ahead of Sawbridgeworth on goal difference.

Updated: Match Highlights (video courtesy of WD Sportz) here: https://youtu.be/GZqKMzS4eDY       

 

Saffron Walden   | Manager: Jason Maher

Neil O’Sullivan (GK), James Crane, Ronnie Ledwith, Ryan Fleming (Capt), Matt Frew, Karolis Atutis, Craig Calver (Joe Maybanks 72′), Jack Mead (Oliver Emsden 72′), Daniel Trendall, Charlie Portway, Tony Da Silva (Lewis Francis 52′)

Goal-scorers: Charlie Portway [pen 22′ & 77′]

Booked: Atutis, Mead, Frew, Maybanks  | Subs Not Used: Laird, Isherwood

 

West Essex  | Manager: Kwame Kwateng

Jack Coker (GK), Emanuel Warzola, Sanchez Hardy, Nick Walk, Josh French, Tom MacLeod (Capt) (Izzy Ogedi-Uzokwe 68′), Greg Frederick, Callum Bloss, Joe Lefley, Michael Mignot (Symeon Taylor 23′), Hakim Medfai (Tom Woodbridge 84′)

Goal-scorers: Hakim Medfai [1′], Symeon Taylor [35′], Joe Lefley [87′]

Booked: Warzola, Medfai, Hardy, French, Bloss  | Sub Not Used: Gill

Author: survivor16b

I'm a Mental Health survivor (been surviving for years) & campaigner. I also like Music & Sport. This blog is centred on all things Non-League Football, mainly Match Reports of matches I've seen (mainly Essex Senior League (ESL) but also other Leagues) though it also houses the regular round-up's of the ESL action plus the Essex Olympian League divisions regularly. It also has the odd post about the scary world that we're all in, talking from a Mental Health perspective. Thank you for reading.

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