After the previous week's drubbing at the hands of lowly Whitton, a sterner test awaited Greshams this week in the shape of Falcons. Having played Falcons a few times in recent seasons, Greshams had generally come off second best. Nevertheless manager Cashen had a strong squad at his disposal and so confidence was high in the Greshams ranks. The team lined up with Rob in goals; the usual suspects at the back in the shape of Beast Cook Hamblin and Cash; in midfield Matt, Gibbo, Neil Potter and Hunn; up front Rob Minns and, sponsored by Dance East, Steve Norfolk. The returning Tom Cashen, given his lack of match fitness - or any fitness for that matter - was left on the bench.
A prelude to the game was the unveiling of the new gold and navy kit. Although seemingly designed for the more amply proportioned frame, the kit received a generally favourable reception, other than from Keeper Rob. Manager Cashen had followed instructions and ordered an XL sized keepers kit but Rob found himself floundering in a kit that would have been XL on someone six foot eight and twenty stone. General consensus was that Rob resembled an Ice Hockey keeper, complete with padding.
However, whether it was the new kit inspiring them or the new warm up routine, Greshams started strongly with Gibbo to the fore in midfield. They had a clear chance when good link up play down the right saw the Beast, rolling back the years, making a lung bursting overlap which Falcons completely failed to track. Played in by Matt, Phil elected to shoot and unfortunately lashed the ball over the bar.
However mid way through the half Greshams got the goal which on balance of play they deserved. A Greshams corner was only partially cleared to where Matt was lurking on the edge of the 'D'. Matt didn't even take a touch to control it but just put his laces through the ball which flew into the top right corner giving the keeper no chance.
With Neil Potter playing the holding midfielder role excellently, Falcons were having some possession but creating little in terms of chances. However Greshams did have to be grateful to their Keeper when the number 9 managed to beat Steve Hamblin in the area to create a chance out of nothing only to be foiled by a fine diving save from Rob.
Half time Greshams 1 Falcons 0
The half time team talk was much more positive than the previous week after a far better performance all round. However, within 10 minutes of the restart, Falcons were level in fortuitous circumstances. The ball was partly cleared to the edge of the Greshams box where the Falcons player should have been closed down but got his shot away. However the shot, while on target, lacked power and was dribbling straight into Rob's arms until it took a wicked deflection of Cooky which diverted it out of Rob's reach and in to the corner for a fortunate and undeserved equaliser.
Manager Cashen took this as the signal to summon Cashen Junior, looking more like Leighton Baines every day, from the bench. Greshams reshuffled with Phil going off and Matt sitting in at right back to allow Tom to play right mid. Predictably, Tom's first involvement was to beat about five players with a series of shimmies and drag backs only to finally give the ball away in a dangerous position.
However Tom redeemed himself shortly later as Greshams regained the lead. This time doing his good work in the right areas of the pitch, Tom set off on a mazy dribble towards the edge of the Falcons box. Just when it looked as if he had done too much again, Tom managed to squirt a lovely little ball through to Rob who was on it like a shot and stabbed it past the keeper from close range.
As the game ebbed and flowed it was being marred by a series of bizarre referring decisions. Every challenge for a header was being called as a foul, but in seemingly random fashion. This was a leading to a great deal of frustration on both sides. It was a contentious refereeing decision that gave Falcons a way back into the match as a Falcons break was surprisingly judged to have been ended by obstruction by the Greshams defence. Once again Falcons had a huge slice of luck as a poor free kick straight at the wall somehow deflected into the Greshams net, with a lucky bounce taking it over Rob's dive and in to the corner.
As the game came to a conclusion Greshams were the beneficiaries this time of another refereeing decision as Matt appeared to foul the Falcons player in the area only to see play waved on. In the final few minutes Gibbo broke through on two occasions but was unable to find a finish and the game ended in a creditable draw.
Man of the Match
A tough call, as everyone raised their game from the previous week. However for a great display of front running as well as a goal the bubbly goes to Rob Minns this week. Well played mate.