Result: Loss 0-1
With 2 strong victories from their first two games, it would be interesting to see if the enforced rest last week due to a late postponement at Waltham Forrest would break the momentum the M4’s squad had built up.
With captain Rob Dyer unavailable for the weekend and a few regular players injured or otherwise engaged the initial squad totalled a bare eleven, until a welcome update arrived late on Friday proclaiming Justin Ross and Andrew Bird would be joining us. For both players this was to be their first games of the season – they may have come with some ring rust, but their inclusion was more than welcome.
Straight from push back, the opening exchanges highlighted the SF attacking formation, speed and preference for pushing up through the centre, which kept our midfield and defensive line on full alert. A lot of the play was sticking in the Chelmsford 23, but strikes on goal in the D were snuffed out as the M4 defensive line stuck to their task. With so much action in and around the D short corners were inevitable, but in spite of what seemed like a relentless number of attacks on goal the SW strikers were to be denied throughout the first half.
Meanwhile at the other end it was hard going for the M4 strikers, too many times we tried to push through players and when passes did occur too many times the agile SW midfield and defence mopped up. The few attacking short corners that Chelmsford took unfortunately fizzled out to nothing.
At half time whilst super busy keeper Darren nursed his bruises and got his breath back, the squad chat focussed on the need to value the ball more and to not try and force so much.
Revitalised by their jelly babies and a reinforced game plan Chelmsford started the second half a little more brightly, ball passing had improved thus enabling the capable M4 midfield to concentrate on building attacks rather than the purely defensive role they had taken in the first half.
Strikes on goal were still in single figures however and the less said about the M4 attacking short corner routines the better.
Meanwhile SW were still breaking through far to regularly than is healthy and with 10 minutes left in the game their perseverance finally paid off when the Chelmsford defence became overloaded and when a ball came loose from a keeper stick save a free SW striker pounced in to push the ball over the line, 1-0 to Saffron Walden.
The final minutes of the second half yielded more chances for both sides but no further goals, giving on reflection SW a deserved victory.
The first defeat of the season puts the M4 down to 6th in the East League 6SE table but with a still strong goal difference and a game in hand.
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