Saffron Waldon’s pitch has one hellish slope down towards one corner and when the wind is also blowing in that direction, as it was today, then the ball is always going to end up there. This was going to be a difficult match for the Reds as Saffron Waldon had some early season form behind them.
Baldock started in 4-3-3 formation and had their fair share of play in the opening encounters but neither side really threatened early on. Holland had a shot towards goal but was high and wide. The clearest chance fell to Saffron Waldon when Ezekiel left a passback short and allowed their striker in but Harpur pulled off a fine last gasp save at feet when a goal looked more likely. Baldock had their chances as well and a good shot by O’Brien from distance forced the keeper to scramble a save low to his right which slipped away for a corner. At the other end Harpur was again called into action on his six yard line and saved low with his hands and then cleared with this feet. The Saffron Waldon winger was starting to cause Josh Furness some bother by coming from a bit deeper and trying to get a run on him but Josh kind of kept him under control. The guy obviously got fed up and moved to the other side for the second half but he didn’t have much luck over there either. Saffron Waldon managed to miss the chance of the game, in 36 mins, when they blasted past when it seemed easier to score. Eventually Saffron Waldon got a goal with almost the last kick of the ball in the first half when a goal mouth scramble resulted in the ball being bundled over the line. Despite strong claims for offside the goal was allowed to stand and Baldock ended up 1-0 down at the end of the first half. If VAR had been in use it would probably have been given offside. You need to watch out for the match highlights on Saffron Waldon TV to check it out.
Baldock started the second half brightly as the manager no doubt reminded the team that they were still well in this tie. Finch came on after 8 mins and immediately looked lively and caused them some bother before Kenna rattled a shot off their bar from about 18 yards. Saffron Waldon responded by hitting the bar themselves shortly after. Baldock’s front line didn’t appear to be threatening too much and spurned a few opportunities to drive into the Saffron Waldon box where they would probably have done some damage – it would have been good to see them do that more as O’Brien would have presented a significant danger with his powerful shot if the ball had broken out from a defence under pressure.
As the match moved into the closing stages Baldock became more exposed as they pushed forward but seemed to be confident in matching the opposing forwards with the inevitable one on one breakaways. Kenna was caught on the turn on the half way line and being the professional that he is he knew that their player couldn’t be allowed to continue – and he didn’t continue, as Kenna decked him there and then. O’Brien had a shot tipped on to the bar in the later stages and everyone except the Ref knew that it was a corner. Baldock continued to threaten but eventually ran out of time - their main chance of a goal always looked like a shot from distance from O’Brien.
A bit of a scrappy game in sometimes difficult conditions Baldock were no doubt disappointed to lose this one. I know that I was.
Some goals and a good win could transform our outlook entirely. Early days. Edgware Town are next up for what should be another difficult game.
Player of the Match (as voted by GoalShouter); Liam Kenna
Team; Harpur, Brooks, Furness, Coppin, Kenna, Ezekiel, Piggot, James (Foster. 83), Holland (Birch 68), O’Brien, Gould (Finch 56). Subs Unused; Fraser, Gill, Osborne, Ghamarinezhad