It has been a busy close season for Greshams. Manager Cashen and Secretary Potter together with Chief Scout Hamblin had been scouring the ranks of friends and relatives of all the players and rushing to get registrations through before the window slammed shut. The £30 spent on transfers represents a close season record for the Club, and this together with a number of players arriving on Frees, has led to quite an overhaul of the squad.
Nevertheless there was a familiar look to the 13 who gathered for the first game of the season, and a familiar venue, the dust bowl that is Claydon Rec. Manager Cashen was turning out for the final time before turning 50 and announced the team which was: Rob in goals; a back four of Froudy, Cook, Hamblin, Cash; in midfield Tom, Sam, Matt and Ash; with Steve Norfolk and Rob Minns up front and Harry and Josh on the bench.
Greshams made a decent start to the game, with Ash prominent on the left. Ash seemed to have the beating of his full back and was taking him on at every opportunity, but without anything clear cut coming from it. on the other side of the pitch Tom was showing his usual neat footwork but again was unable to fashion anything clear cut. Instead, it was Claydon who were coming in to the game. Mid way through the half, Greshams found themselves behind. It was a relatively simple goal too as Claydon simply came forward in numbers leaving the Greshams back four too much to do and a well placed shot gave Rob no chance.
Within a matter of minutes it was two, this time the ball was cleared by Hamblin but the second ball was lost. The burly Claydon midfielder shrugged off a challenge from Tom and again the shot was well placed giving Rob no chance.
Half time Claydon 2 Greshams 0
After a rousing team talk from Harry Greshams started the half brightly. Within a couple of minutes of the restart,Tom had danced his way in to the area, before hitting a smart shot across the keeper, which, to the vocal disappointment of manager Cashen, struck the far post and somehow stayed out.
Although at this point in the game Claydon were having most of the ball, Greshams were on occasion producing some decent stuff going forward, with some good link play between Tom and Rob Minns at one point culminating in a good chance for Steve Norfolk. Steve unfortunately took a touch which allowed the Claydon defence to swarm round him snuffing out the chance.
Claydon were also having chances, most notably when they were gifted a penalty. The Claydon number 9 knocked the ball past Hamblin, ran into him, and collapsed to the ground. Short of disappearing, there was nothing Hamblin could do to avoid the collision, which was a mirror image of an incident in the first half when the referee allowed play to continue. However on this occasion it was a spot kick despite the Greshams protests. The ball was grabbed by the chunky Claydon infielder who, with Rob making himself big between the sticks, put all his weight behind the ball and thumped it yards over the bar to Greshams cries of 'Justice!!!!'
After 15 minutes of the half, Froudy, still suffering the effects of the previous nights heroic number of drinks, was replaced by Harry. Right back was probably not where Harry wanted to make his debut given that the Claydon left sided attacker was quick, strong and skilful and sure enough it was a cross from the left that Claydon got their third, the ball evading everyone in the 6 yard box only to be slotted in at the far post by an onrushing midfielder.
Claydon rounded off the scoring when a cross from their right was cleared but as luck would have it, went straight back to the feet of the forward who dinked a cross which was headed in at the far post.
There was still a final chance for Greshams. Josh had replaced Norfolk with time running out. A great shot / cross from Rob Minns came across the goal and Josh appeared to have a tap in. However, Josh, showing great tactical awareness, cleverly played for the goal kick and craftily allowed the ball to trickle past the post. Some people would have simply lashed it in to the empty net!!!!!
Full time Claydon 4 Greshams 0
Man of the Match
Greshams were unlucky, after minimal pre season preparation, to come across probably the best team they will play this season. At times Greshams were careless in possession; at others they looked quite good going forward. Certainly things can only get better!
Man of the match goes to Tom who with the ball at his feet was at the heart of all Greshams' good work. Well played mate.