Walthamstow moved back up to second and closed the gap on league-leaders Saffron Walden Town after winning at one of their closest title-challengers. Goals from Connor Scully and Tommy Fletcher ensured the Stags got a vital three points towards the title after another challenging game.
Neither side really dominated the early minutes of the game as both tried to settle into the game. Both sides tried to come forward but neither wanted to give an inch as both teams defended well. The deadlock was broken in the 13th minute when Connor Scully volleyed the ball into the back of the net after Dwade James pulled it back to him in the box.
Nicholas Eyre smashed a clearance into Callum Ibe but the deflection was wide of the goal whilst Saffron Walden looked for an equaliser. Julian Simon-Parson saw his shot sail just over the bar and onto the roof of the net before a corner ball was collected from Charlie Mann and a shot was dragged just wide. The hosts came very close to an equaliser when the ball was chipped over an on-rushing Mann but the ball fell just wide of the goal.
As the first half approached an end, Walthamstow came close to extending their lead. A free-kick from Connor Scully was fired just over the bar before Dwade James had the ball in the net after he had lifted the ball over the keeper but it was ruled out for offside. The teams went into the break with Walthamstow leading 1-0.
The game had barely restarted before Saffron Walden found their equaliser in the opening minutes of the second half. Charlie Mann did well to save an initial shot before the ball was tapped in from Simon-Parson. Less than 5 minutes later, Walthamstow had retaken the lead when Tommy Fletcher smashed the ball in after a scramble in the Walden box.
The second goal certainly gave Stow confidence as they tried to come forward. Samrai Gebrai managed to beat the defender as he ran into the box but his low cross was too close to the keeper before a shot from Callum Ibe on the turn was tame and comfortably held on by the keeper. There were a couple of chances for Saffron Walden but they struggled to find a response. A head towards goal was comfortable for Mann before a scramble in the box was cleared.
Walthamstow were unlucky not to be further ahead when a shot from Dwade James was held onto Eyre and a shot from Callum Ibe was blocked on the edge of the box as he ran towards the goal. Saffron Walden thought they had scored with 8 minutes to play but a chip over Charlie Mann was just over the bar. There was also a penalty shout from Walden in the 86th minute for handball was the referee waved the shouts away.
Despite Walthamstow being reduced to ten men when Callum Ibe was sin-binned and a last-ditch long throw from Saffron Walden in injury time, the game ended 2-1 to the Stags.
Speaking after the game, Walthamstow manager Max Mitchell said “I felt we battled really well. We had a game plan and we stuck to that game plan so we are really happy with the three points. We came into this game knowing that this game was an opportunity and we were happy with how it went.”
[Was there any pressure on the lads to get a result?] “Not at all. This game was an opportunity for us to grow as a group. The starting eleven and the three that came on were excellent throughout. We treat every game the same whether it is top of the league or bottom of the league and we are slowly starting to get better. There is a lot of improve and we have another huge game against Hashtag on Tuesday.”
[How important will Tuesday game be in the title race?] “We have a busy schedule this week. Hashtag offer something different to what Walden offered today and we will prep well. This will be another opportunity to get another three points.”