There was a crowded feeling about the dressing room on Sunday as Greshams turned up with an unprecedented four subs for their final game of 2012.
The starting eleven for the big game against Elite 405 was Josh in goal; a back four of Steve Hamblin, Cookie, Neil and Rob; in midfield Froudy, JP, Tom and Matt; and up front, the returning skipper Steve Burton and Rob. This left Snelly, Phil, Beardo and Cash senior as subs.
The game was preceded by a long, unnecessary and tedious chat from the referee but within 30 seconds of kick off, there was a bad foul on Rob and the tone of the game was set when the Elite number 15 spent several minutes telling the referee how to do his job.
The opening exchanges were pretty even. There was a bit of pace about the Elite team which was causing Greshams some problems and one long punt saw the Elite attacker in a straight race with Cookie in which Cookie just did enough to prevent the striker getting his shot off. However, it was Greshams who broke the deadlock. Tom Cashen, having a much better game in conditions which suited him a lot better (ie it wasn't cold!) found a brilliant pass to set Rob free down the inside right channel. Rob's cross found Steve Burton in acres of space and the skipper had time for a cup of tea and a biscuit before stroking the ball confidently into the net.
The goal settled Greshams and they began to play more football, although without creating many clear cut chances other than one which fell to Matt, which was well saved by the keeper with his legs but flagged for offside anyway.
However before too long, it was two. Rob White, having another solid game at left back, produced a mighty hoofed clearance which turned into a great pass when it dropped over the defender's head. Luckily Rob Minns was on hand and cooly turned the ball home.
At this stage Greshams were looking comfortable but just before half time were undone by a moment's lack of concentration. A long ball in the direction of the right winger should probably have been collected by Josh. However the winger got there first and managed to square the ball and produce an unmissable chance for the on rushing attacker to make it 2-1 at half time.
With the score at 2-1 the next goal was critical and ten minutes into the second half came a moment of huge controversy. The ball was played in to Rob in the area. As he took the ball on, heading slightly away from goal, he was challenged with a lunge from behind for the most clear cut penalty decision you could see. Everyone on the pitch was waiting of the whistle to blow but to the astonishment of both sets of players, all the fans and the referee's assessor, no foul was given. Greshams frustrations were only increased when a lovely pass from Tom picked out Steve Burton who was wrongly flagged for offside when clear and one on one with the keeper. The skipper almost added to his tally shortly after when he hit a great first time half volley which unluckily went into the side netting.
As Beardo replaced Matt and Phil came on for Steve Hamblin, insult was added to injury for Greshams when Elite were allowed a free header from a corner and made it 2-2. Within minutes further disaster struck as Froudy distracted Neil as he was about to clear the ball, and it somehow found its way though to the striker who gave Josh no chance.
As the game drew towards its conclusion it looked like Gresham's Christmas lash up was going to have to take away the taste of a bitter defeat. However, Beardo had other ideas. Taking a long ball in his stride he showed skill nobody suspected him of possessing, to take two defenders out of the game and produce a perfect through ball to Rob. Rob ran on to finish confidently and give Greshams a well deserved point.
So with ten games gone Greshams find themselves handily placed in the promotion chase with five wins, a draw and four defeats - of which one came when they only had 10 men.
Man of the Match
The impostor look alike for Froudy who played right midfield, is definitely not a contender this week. Indeed, if the real Froudy had turned up, Greshams might have carried more of a threat!
There were a few good performances from the Greshams side, Neil and Cookie were solid in the centre of defence, JP played with his usual economy and Tom Cashen picked out some lovely passes. However with two goals, an assist, and for the most blatant penalty ever not awarded, this weeks Moet goes to Rob Minns.