After the previous weeks debacle against Galaxy, it was important for Greshams to get back to winning ways. The eleven selected for the task were: Josh in goal; a back four of Rob, Steve H, Justin and Cash; in midfield Froudy, JP, Cookie and Matt; up front Steve Burton with Tom just behind. On the bench was Snelly.
In perfect conditions for a game, Greshams started confidently, passing the ball well and forcing a string of early corners. In fact, the first 10 minutes of the game were played almost entirely in the Phoenix half, with Greshams moving the ball around patiently looking for an opening. They got the early goal that their pressure deserved when a defence splitting ball from Cookie found Steve Burton breaking free from the defenders and bearing down on goal. For a moment it looked like Steve may have delayed too long but he calmly and confidently lifted the ball over the keeper to give Greshams the lead.
Greshams continued to press after the goal, with some half chances falling to Steve and Tom, and a good chance being spurned by Matt as Froudy's set plays caused Phoenix all sorts of problems. Having missed an easier chance however, Matt made amends with an absolute belter. Cashen managed to nick the ball in midfield and fed it in to the feet of Steve Burton. Steve laid the ball off neatly to Matt who caught it perfectly without any hesitation and it simply flew into the top corner to put Greshams two up.
Unfortunately, instead of building on the good start,Greshams allowed complacency to set in and as a result became sloppy in possession, failing to keep hold of the ball and allowing Phoenix in to the game. Fortunately however, Justin and Steve were looking very solid at the back and even though Greshams were not playing well, Phoenix were not creating clear chances. However, shortly before half time, disaster struck. In a rare misunderstanding, Justin and Steve seemed to distract each other going for the same ball, which sailed over their heads. Josh hesitated, probably assuming the ball was going to be cleared, and the attacker was through on goal. Josh stood up well but the attacker rounded him and knocked the ball goal wards where a despairing attempt at a clearance from Cashen only diverted the ball into the top corner, much to the veteran's frustration.
Half time Greshams 2 Phoenix 1
Having conceded after being so well on top it was a subdued Greshams dressing room at half time. However, Greshams started the second half in much more determined fashion, with Tom coming deeper and getting involved a lot more and Froudy and Rob linking well up the right flank. Froudy's set plays were once again causing problems and from one, Cookie rose unopposed at the near post only to make if anything too good a contact, the ball bulleting just wide of the post.
With the score 2-1 the next goal was crucial and fortunately it went to a much improved Greshams. Tom picked the ball up after some interplay with Froudy and dribbled in to the area. It looked like Tom was going to take on the left footed shot but instead he played it to Cookie whose shot from three yards out was a rather scuffed effort that trickled apologetically into the bottom corner to restore a two goal cushion for Greshams.
This goal seemed rather to knock the stuffing out of Phoenix and Greshams were able to dominate the rest of the game, with the question being how many more they would add. Some half chances came and went, with Froudy seeing a rare left footed effort saved, and Steve Burton chancing his luck from range. Froudy even hit a Beckham-esque free kick whistling inches past the post. When the next goal came however, it was a scrappy effort. A goalmouth scramble with the ball ricocheting around like a pinball, culminated in the Phoenix keeper somehow shovelling the ball into his own net. The mistake was forced by the proximity of Cookie, while Steve Burton's claim in the dressing room after the game, to have got the last touch, was treated with the scorn it deserved!
Snelly came on for JP and was immediately involved as Greshams continued to pile on the pressure. With five minutes to go the cherry was put on the cake of a decent Greshams display by another great finish from Matt. A long ball from defence found Snelly who knocked it square to Matt, who absolutely cracked a first time shot that flew into the net - the keeper may have done better but that does not distract from the finish.
So a first win of the year for Greshams that was quite comfortable in the end. The performance was built on a solid display from the centre halves that gave a great platform to the teams attacking players and with Cookie and JP solid in centre midfield, Tom, Steve, Matt and Froudy were able to play football that the Phoenix defence just could not handle.
Man of the Match. Several candidates - two great strikes from Matt, an energetic performance by Cookie with a goal and an assist, great leading of the line by Steve and a solid return from Justin. However the verdict in the bar after the game was for the award to go to Steve H for a determined, strong and solid defensive performance. Well played mate.