Greshams congregated in the all too familiar surroundings of the Claydon Rec on a perfect morning for football. The usual pre match banter was in full flow but was cut short by the realisation that the home side were in blue - and manager Cashen only had the blue kit with him. An enquiry with Claydon revealed that they did have a spare kit - a shocking pink number. Despite the offer of some black / yellow shirts from Harry, the majority of the dressing room, in a shockingly revelatory choice, opted for the highly effeminate pink, which clashed horribly with the blue shorts and socks.
Manager Cashen was just about able to break through the hilarity of the homophobic banter to name the team which was Rob in goals; a back four of Froudy, Hamblin, Groggy and Harry; in midfield Nathan, Sam, Rich and Matt; up front the Hunn and Norfolk with Cashen and The Beast on the bench.
From the start Greshams looked more up for the game than had been the case in previous weeks, with some hard work being matched by some half decent football, which is not easy on the bobbly Claydon surface. However, they rather unluckily fell behind from one of Claydon's first attacks, when the right back lumbered forward unopposed to hit a perfect cross to the far post where the striker was able to volley smartly in to the net.
However Greshams weren't behind for long. With the ball bobbling round on the edge of the Claydon area, Steve Norfolk took control of the situation and audaciously lobbed the ball in to the top corner giving the keeper no chance.
However, rather than build on this, Greshams then suffered a poor five minute period which nearly cost them the game as Claydon scored three goals in very quick succession. All three were similar, with through balls catching Greshams a bit square and the attackers running in behind to finish sharply giving Rob no chance, although he was unlucky with the second goal when he slipped as he advanced to meet the striker.
Facing a 4-1 scoreline, manager Cashen feared the worst as heads had dropped and a heavy defeat looked on the cards. However, perhaps cheered by the constant shouts of 'Pink head' and so forth, to their great credit Greshams were able to lift themselves, steady the ship, and start working their way back into the game. They got their second, and a foothold back in the match, when a typical surging run from Rich Minns brought a free kick on the edge of the box - Greshams being rather lucky after the referee played advantage for long enough for Rich to get his shot off, only to bring the play back for the free kick. Matt's free kick was something of a bobbled effort, but well directed, and as it cannoned back off the post, nobody reacted apart from the arch poacher Norfolk who was typically on hand to poke it home.
It was now Greshams clearly in the ascendancy. Claydon were wanting to play the ball round at the back, but lacked the ability to do so safely. With Greshams now applying more pressure a mistake looked inevitable and it came as confusion between goalkeeper and defenders led to the ball dropping to the feet of Matt Miller. Matt had an empty goal to aim at, but from some distance and with little time to steady himself. However Matt made the finish look easy and swept the ball home to make the half time score 4-3.
The half time team talk was positive with the momentum in the game all in Greshams favour. Greshams were also buoyed by the arrival of lone season ticket holder Nana Potter together with secretary Mike. With Mike chirupping constant encouragement from the sidelines Greshams went in search of the equaliser. When Nathan was fouled over on the right, Froud stood over the free kick and sent a great ball to the far post. Matt was completely unmarked but still had plenty to do and sent a fine half volley back across the keeper and into the net.
From here on the game became evenly poised as Claydon in turn rallied and started to have more of the game. Phil replaced Sam with Froudy going to centre midfield. Greshams had a great chance through the Hunn who was through on goal but with the ball on his right foot, he put it over the bar. At the other end, Rob had to be alert to save smartly down to his left. Claydon had a number of corners, but Rob's handling was immaculate as he came to claim the ball on several occasions.
Cashen replaced the tiring Harry with ten to go and shortly after he came on to the pitch, Greshams had a good penalty claim as Rich Minns surged in to the box and had to avoid a lunging attempted tackle. Greshams appealed loudly for the foul and it definitely fell into the 'seen 'em given' category, but on this occasion the referee waved play on. Then, with almost the last play of the game, Greshams came agonisingly close to a late winner. Cashen took a throw in deep into the Claydon half. Hunn returned it to him and the veteran swung the ball in to the box. It looked a little high for Norfolk but he managed to reach it and send the header goalwards - only to rebound off the bar and bounce to safety, to the head clutching despair of the Greshams players and fans.
So the game ended four all and Greshams left the pitch on the back of a much improved performance..
Man of the Match
Good performances all over the pitch other than during the critical five minute wobble in the first half. Very difficult to choose a Man of the Match so it went to a vote this week with the narrow but very deserved winner being Rich Minns for a driving performance in midfield which constantly kept Greshams on the front foot. Well played mate.