Home league match played on 21 February 2010.
Kicked off at 10:15 AM

Ambassadors 4 – 5 Greshams

It was an unfamiliar Greshams line up that gathered in the salubrious surroundings of the new changing block at Gainsborough. With Rudders stag night taking four players out of the squad, the emergency call went out to Vernau and Nick Richardson, with Simon coming in in Goal and a welcome return for Dave Neve on the right. With a steady drizzle falling it didn’t promise to be a pleasant day for football as Greshams lined up: Simon in goal, back four of Phil, James, Justin and Cash; Midfield Dave, Jon, Vern and Nick, and up front, the precocious goalscoring talents of Norfolk and Burton.

Ambassadors went into this fixture top of the league, but it was Greshams who started the brighter. With Vern bossing the midfield, and Nick and Steve B linking well over on the left, it looked like a matter of time before Greshams scored. Disaster struck however, when a long hopeful punt from the Ambassadors defence swirled in the wind and caused confusion between the Greshams centre halves. The ball ran on and at one point seemed to be safely caught between Simon’s legs, but somehow squirmed clear and was lashed in from close range by the Ambassadors striker.

Worse was to follow for Greshams. Another long punt led to confusion between Justin and Simon. With Justin trying to shepherd the ball, and Simon waiting for it to run into the area, the striker nipped in and toe punted it through the wide gate between Simon’s legs and into the net.

Shortly after, Greshams were further behind, as yet another long ball just evaded Justin and the striker sprinted clear to make no mistake with the finish.

Three nil down and not the start Greshams had planned, but they had played far the better football and Ambassadors record read attacks, 3 – goals – 3. It was important however that Greshams pulled one back before the break and had a great opportunity when Vern burst powerfully into the area only to be harshly adjudged to have handled. The goal did come however when more excellent passing by Greshams culminated in the ball being played to Norfolk in the box. As Norfolk shaped to get the shot away he was unceremoniously bundled over – spot kick. Up stepped Burton, and despatched an excellent penalty to the keeper’s right. Hang on though; the kick has to be retaken due to the keeper being off his line. What’s that about ref?? But Burton with precocious confidence just whacked an even better penalty high to the top left corner.

Then just before half time came Ambassador’s fourth attack of the game. The striker got clear and lashed in a shot that looked absolutely destined for the net. With excellent reflexes however Simon palmed it to the safety of a corner – an excellent save and a key intervention at that stage in the game.

Half time: Ambassadors 3 – 1 Greshams

Gresham’s team talk was brief; keep playing as we are and we’ll be ok. However the rain started to really fall, giving the players, and particularly the unfortunate Mike Potter running the line, a real soaking and it was cold with it, and Greshams started the second half less well, with Ambassadors having more of the ball. Simon in the Gresham’s goal however had taken confidence from the save at the end of the first half and was now much quicker off his line to snuff out any attacks – even marauding down the left wing at one point. Greshams continued to play football however and looked to have pulled one back when a cross from Cash was flicked goalwards by Norfolk only for the keeper to make a decent stop. And when Steve B, free down the right, hit a powerful low effort only to see the keeper pull off another good stop, Greshams wondered whether the goal was coming.

However at last the second arrived. A corner was taken by Nick and then the ball found its way back to him. He showed great footwork to get the ball back on to his right foot and whipped the ball in for Norfolk to send a precocious header beyond the keepers reach. 3-2 and Greshams scented that they might get something from the game. With renewed confidence they continued to press forward and the equaliser came from the most unlikely of sources. Vern produced excellent work in the area before teeing up Phil Beeson who steamed in and fired in an unstoppable stop from the edge of the area for his traditional goal every five years – ‘that will do me now till I’m fifty’ were his memorable words in celebration.

Could Greshams go on and win the game? A good ball was played in to Norfolk in the box, but the ball got caught in the mud between his feet and the chance was snuffed out. Then, some good play down the left saw a knock down the line from Vern set Steve Burton free. Steve still had a lot to do but with typical confidence ran on, cut inside and simply planted the ball into the net for a great finish that sent the Gresham’s travelling support – in the sodden shape of linesman Mike Potter – into raptures. And Greshams weren’t finished yet as more good work from that man Vernau saw him tee up Nick Richardson for a lovely right footed finish.

Ambassador’s scored a consolation fourth from a flicked header from a free kick. The ref was signalling that the game was over however; Greshams kicked off, Vern hoofed the ball towards the corner, and the ref blew the whistle to end a pulsating game and an excellent victory for Greshams.

Victorious, but cold and wet, Greshams retired to their changing room for a well deserved celebration. The new look line up had done the job. Vernau and Richardson showed promise and with a few more games under their belt, may be able to make the step up to this level regularly. Jonny seemed liberated by the presence of Vern and had his best game for some time, while Dave made a very welcome return and the two strikers proved a constant handful. After some dodgy moments in the first half the defence played better as a unit following a discussion as to how to handle the pacy Ambassadors front two and Greshams can take great credit for coming from so far behind to win against the league leaders.

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