On another windy day at Greshams, Manager Cashen arrived at the Club to find Froudy sporting a most extraordinary piece of headwear, borrowed from Mark Kinlan. After the usual banter the team adjourned in a leisurely fashion to the changing rooms where the team was announced as : Rob in goals; a back four of Beardo, Cookie, Hamblin and Cash; in midfield Froudy, Matt, Sam and Mark; and up front Hunn and Norfolk, with the returning Josh on the bench.
Two shiny new match balls had been purchased but despite them pinging around beautifully, the swirling wind ensured that neither team was able to exert much control in the opening stages. However, Greshams had the best of the first 15 minutes, with Sam in particular showing great energy the midfield. Eastern were carrying some threat especially from set pieces as they had a height (and bulk) advantage over the Greshams defence. The wind also favoured Eastern so the set plays were whipping dangerously towards the Greshams goal. From one free kick the attacker got free at the far post and Greshams were relieved to see the effort go into the side netting.
However other than set plays Rob was largely untroubled and Greshams were also causing the Eastern defence problems, though without really calling the keeper in to action. Both wide players were seeing plenty of the ball and Mark Kinlan made some good breaks, on one occasion missing the chance to pick out the well positioned Steve Norfolk. In fact the story of the half was of decent approach play but too often the final ball going astray. Neither side was helped either by an increasingly fussy referee which made it impossible to make any kind of challenge for the ball leading to a lot of free kicks and a lack of flow to the game.
Half time Greshams 0 Eastern 0
Greshams had the wind in their favour in the second half but as they often have this season, started on the back foot after half time. Indeed they had Rob to thank for a couple of fine saves. The first came when a shot - either a well judged lob or a complete miscue - looked to be sailing over his head into the top of the net but Rob leapt up and swung an arm to paw the ball over the bar. Minutes later in a bit of a goalmouth scramble, the ball fell to the Eastern striker who hit a full blooded strike from point blank range but Rob was perfectly positioned to save the ball with his midriff.
These two scares seemed to put some life into Greshams who started to get back in the game. After about 65 minutes they took the lead, though it was no surprise that it was from a set play. Froudy was brought down some way out and Richard Hunn whipped in a vicious left footed delivery. The ball evaded everyone including the keeper, took a wicked bounce and nestled in the net to give Greshams a lead they just about deserved. Greshams were dominating now, with Beardo finding a lot of space down the right and the centre halves looking solid. The main problem for the Greshams defenders was in judging how the ball would behave in the swirling wind but generally they were handling it well. All the same, Greshams needed the cushion of a second goal, which came when Froudy broke into the box, went to go round the keeper, and was caught. The ref correctly pointed to the spot as the keeper certainly fouled Froudy, who dusted himself down to despatch the spot kick with some confidence.
It looked unlikely that Eastern would come back now and with the game over as a contest, the referee decided to take centre stage. The Eastern no.8 had had several warnings but nevertheless it was a harsh yellow card for a soft foul on Froudy in the centre circle. Yellow it was however and some time during the discussion with the referee the Eastern player must have spoken out of turn, because unexpectedly, a red card was produced! This rather inflamed the situation with comments being made from the sidelines resulting in the Eastern player who had earlier been subbed, also receiving a red card.
With all this going on it was important that Greshams retain their focus. Josh came on for a tiring Mark Kinlan for the last 15 minutes and in fact had a chance to make it three when he was a put through only to hesitate a fraction too long allowing the defender to get back and make the tackle.
However at the very end of the match Greshams produced a goal which showed the football they are capable of. As another Eastern attack broke down, Rob gathered the ball and rolled it to Cashen who made a few yards before passing to Norfolk on the edge of the centre circle. Steve took a couple of touches and passed it inside to Matt. Matt advanced and and played a perfect ball between the centre halves for Froudy to run on to. Froudy opened up his body to take the shot with his right and knocked it calmly into the bottom corner. The ball had gone from Rob's hands to the Eastern net in five passes and about ten seconds in a move that showed Greshams at their best.
Final score Greshams 3 Eastern 0
Man of the match: This was solid if unspectacular team performance in difficult conditions so it is difficult to choose a man of the match. However Froudy won and scored the penalty, and finished off a great move for the third goal, as well as giving his usual all energy display, and gets the bubbly this week. Well played mate.