LITTLE Oakley were beaten 3-1 by Saffron Walden Town at the Memorial Ground, writes LARRY DOBKIN.

Oakley welcomed Harman back from suspension for the Essex Senior League match but were missing Nobbs, Harvey, Rodger Nathan Rowe, Kabashi and Papple.

Dobkin returned from retirement, until the end of the season.

Oakley started well with Mann's early cross finding a Lumley who narrowly managed to get to the ball first and fire in a shot which was always rising over the bar.

With both sides trying to establish midfield dominance, Oakley mounted another attack.

Alfie Canning drove in a cross and found Mann who met the ball on the half turn but was unable to control his shot, which went high and wide.

Walden were contesting every ball and with the midfield battle heating up, an industrial tackle on Rowe gave Oakley a free-kick ten yards into the Walden half.

The kick was floated into the area where Mann glanced the ball goalwards to Rowe, whose shot forced the keeper into an excellent save, conceding a corner.

The flag kick found Wood unmarked with a golden opportunity to put Oakley in front but he fluffed his lines and headed the ball wide.

Four minutes before the break, a clearance out of defence by Oakley caused confusion in the Walden defence.

With the keeper coming out of his area he did not allow for the pace of Canning who got to the ball.

The Oakley showed a great deal of composure far beyond his years to duly chip the keeper and send the hosts in at half-time ahead.

Walden came out after the break with new belief and after only two minutes of the second half were awarded a free-kick in their own half.

A long ball into the Oakley box was headed towards goal and partially cleared but headed back towards goal, where Lawlor manage to claw the ball from off the line.

But Walden won a header which was powered towards the Oakley goal and ended up in the back of the net, for 1-1.

Walden were now on the front foot and a move down the wing saw a cross into the box result in a snapshot which went just over the bar.

Oakley had a brief respite and delivered a cross into the Walden area which split the attackers and defenders but somehow missed a touch from any player.

The game was now end to end and Walden went ahead when a header from a corner bypassed the Oakley defence and found the back of the net.

Oakley were now forced to attack and failed to create any clearcut chances, as they chased an equaliser.

With Oakley chucking everything at Walden, it was invertible that chances would be given at the other end.

This proved to be the case when a Walden goal-kick was flicked on by their centre-forward who calmly slotted home to wrap up the visitors' win.

Oakley player of the match was Rowe who has found consistency that makes him a constant goal threat.