Claydon 0 Greshams 2
It was an unfit looking Greshams who met for their first fixture since the festive season and first game in nine weeks. The morning started with the mother of all fiascos as the kit bag was opened only to be found to contain no football socks. A detachment of Cashen and Mills was hastily despatched back to Ipswich to the socks from the spare kit, only to receive a panicked call en route saying that the goalkeeping gloves were also AWOL.
With Mills still feeling the effects of the previous nights alcohol intake, the trip back to Town and then to JJB was an edge of the seat one, but eventually, socks and gloves on board, Mills and Cashen arrived back to ute a quick change into their kit and listen to Cookie’s rapid fire team talk which announced the team to be: Cookie in sticks; back four of Steve H, Potter, James and Millsy; Midfield Jonny Ruddsy Danno Cash; up front Steve and Steve, with the luxury of two subs in the shape of Beeston and Millsy the Younger.
Rather to everyone’s surprise, Greshams started well, with Jonny finding a lot of space on the right, and the two Steves linking well up front. Indeed they almost took the lead when a little through ball from Cashen proved to have just a yard too much on it for Steve B to reach.
After 15 minutes or so, however, the nine weeks without a fixture began to kick in and the Greshams energy levels dropped. With the central midfield of Claydon looking lively, Greshams were giving the ball away too often and were fortunate not to go behind when a lovely turn from the Claydon number 9 totally flummoxed Millsy. The Claydon striker sprinted in the general direction of the Greshams goal and bore down on Cookie before fortunately blazing his shot high and wide. In truth, though Claydon had a lot of the ball, there were no real scares for Cookie in the Greshams goal, the most dangerous moment being when a rather scuffed shot took a wicked deflection. This would have wrong footed most keepers, but the super agile Cookie managed to adjust, shift his balance, and pounce on the ball in a manner that suggested he thought the Sky cameras might be present.
At the other end, Gresham’s were looking dangerous from some excellent Ruddsy corners, the keeper at one point nearly decapitating Norfolk with an attempted punched clearance, and every time Ruddsy swung the ball in, Greshams looked like scoring. However, not all Greshams set pieces were so successful, their attempts at goal kicks being nothing short of embarrassing. Neil Potters excuse for a series of scuffed efforts being that having not got home till 5am he couldn’t see too well and wasn’t sure which ball to kick.
Greshams were glad to reach half time and have a much needed breather.
Half time nil nil.
Greshams reshuffled the pack for the second half with Beeston coming on for Potter, and Millsy shifting to centre half, and Brett on as a straight swap for Jonny.
Surprisingly, the energy levels of the two teams seemed reversed in the second half, with Greshams, and Danno in particular, finding a second wind from somewhere, while the Claydon numbers 11 and 16 became less and less influential.
It was no surprise when Greshams took the lead and no surprise also that the goal came from another excellent Ruddsy corner. Your reporter didn’t see the goal as he was cowering on the goal line hoping the ball wouldn’t hit him on the head. However it is reliably reported that Norfolk leapt like the proverbial tin of John West’s, the ball smacked him in the face and rebounded into the goal.
Soon after it was two as Norfolk played in Burton, who to nobody’s surprise ignored Cashen in support and banged the ball low into the bottom corner.
Two nil, and then Greshams were given a bit of help from the opposition. A few cross words, the cause of which was unclear, culminated in the Claydon no. 16 telling the number 7 that he was “f@*%&# rubbish” and inviting him to “f%@# off off the f@#?*% pitch” - which the number 7 promptly did, leaving Claydon to play out the last 20 minutes or so with ten men.
Greshams saw out the remainder of the game in relative comfort, the main contention being around the decisions of the referee, who remained resolutely in the centre circle, gave a foul against Millsy but ignored a completely identical foul on Burton that should have been a penalty. With 5 minutes or so to go Greshams should have added a third when Burton, Norfolk and Cashen, outnumbering the defenders, managed to contrive a series of useless passes that wasted the opportunity.
An excellent result in the bag with a particularly strong performance at centre half by James H.
Full Time Claydon nil Greshams 2