There was an eerie atmosphere at Greshams as a thick fog fell on the pitch just before kick off, leaving both goals faintly discernible from the centre circle while the distant players cut sepulchral figures in the gloaming.
Despite appearances Froudy was suffering from nothing more serious than man flu and with himself and Rob both declared fit by the Club doctor, Greshams lined up with Josh in goal; a back four of Cash, Steve H, Cookie and Rob; in midfield, Froudy, TC, a rare sighting of Gibbo, and Matt; with up front the free scoring duo of skipper Steve Burton and Rob Minns.
The game started off pretty evenly with both sides showing signs of post festive season rustiness and giving the ball away too often. Cashen senior in particular was having difficulty locating any team mates with his passes while the inclement weather seemed to affect the performance of Cashen Junior. When Greshams did play some football however, they looked good in possession, with the keeper making some fine saves. Greshams thought they had the lead when the keeper made another good stop and Tom Cashen following up, stuck the ball into the net only to find himself denied by a questionable offside decision.
Then on the half hour mark, disaster struck twice for Greshams, and it was the hapless Cookie who was the embarrassed culprit on both occasions. There seemed no danger when a harmless looking throw in was flicked on by the Eastern midfielder. As everyone waited for Cookie to make a routine headed clearance, he for some reason decided to head the ball back to Josh. Josh wasn’t expecting the ball and the header didn’t really have the legs; it turned into a perfect assist as the striker nipped in and finished slightly clumsily with his shin.
Five minutes later and it was another calamity for Cookie. The striker was heading nowhere really along the edge of the box but Cookie thought he could nick the ball and needlessly went to ground in the tackle, missing the ball and catching the striker. Cookie’s appeal that it was outside the box had an air of half hearted embarrassment about it, as his team mates simply looked on with their heads in their hands. The striker sent Josh the wrong way to make it 2-0 and that is how it stayed till half time.
Greshams half time team talk was along the lines that not a lot had been wrong with the performance and the game was still there to be won. Fortunately shortly after the restart, Greshams got the goal that put them well and truly back in the game. Gibbo weaved a bit of magic in the area before squaring the ball to Steve Burton. Steve simply stroked the ball confidently into the net to give Greshams the lift they needed.
It was nearly all square minutes later when Gibbo showed fine control in the box before hitting an absolute rocket that had the crossbar rocking for several minutes. The woodwork also came to Eastern’s rescue moments later when a goal bound shot was deflected on to the post by the defender and from the resulting corner, a goalmouth scramble saw the post once again rattled as Greshams tried to force the ball home from close range.
At this point Cookie left the field somewhat shamefacedly to be replaced by Phil. This proved to be an inspired move, as Greshams were soon back on level terms. Tom Cashen picked the ball up in the inside left channel and there seemed little on for the diminutive playmaker. However he set off on a mazy run beating several men before getting to the bye line and cutting the ball back for the unmarked Matt to produce a classy finish for a deserved first goal for the club.
Greshams were on top now and playing some lovely football and looking dangerous from all of Froudy’s excellent set plays. The mist was lifting at last and conditions were much more to the liking of Cashen Junior, who was once again at the heart of things as Greshams took the lead. Tom’s pass between centre half and full back completely split the defence and found Rob Minns running on to produce a fine finish from a tight angle.
Rob nearly put the gloss on the performance with a close range header but the Eastern keeper managed to somehow stick out a hand to make a brilliant reflex save deflecting the ball to sagety. However the cherry on the cake of Greshams’ victory was provided by Gibbo. A lovely little exchange of passes between Gibbo and Tom Cashen culminated in Gibbo curling a lovely shot into the bottom corner of the net with the keeper well beaten.
With Josh showing signs of increasing confidence in goal, the back four solid, the midfield creative and the front two hitting the net, the come from behind victory was just what was needed to set Greshams up for a promotion challenge in the second half of the season.
Man of the Match
Apart from the normally ultra reliable Cookie, who just had one of those days, this was a good performance from Greshams. The Moet, however, goes to Tom Cashen for the three assists in a vastly improved second half performance, that was at the heart of the Greshams comeback.