It was a beautiful day for football as Greshams congregated for the eagerly anticipated return match against Feathers. The fixture earlier in the season culminated in Neil Potter having a tooth knocked out, so nobody quite knew what to expect from the match. However, both of the protagonists from the dust-up had wisely decided to stay away, so there was danger of a game of football breaking out. A couple of regulars in the persons of Froudy and the Groggyman were missing, the latter allegedly as a result of a two man fishing competition (?!?). In the absence of the Groggyman and his noxious expulsions of wind, the atmosphere in the changing room was positively floral as Manager Cashen shuffled the pack and named the team as Rob in goals; a back four of Danny Bond, Hamblin, Rich Minns and Cash; in midfield Emy, Matt Miller, Heady and Nathan; Steve Norfolk and Rob up front with Ollie and Dan Mayhew on the bench. The game started in lively fashion and the referee set the tone early on by booking a Feathers defender for a volley of abuse. This show of authority calmed any remaining antagonism from the previous fixture and both teams got on with playing football. However neither was doing so particularly successfully. The first chance fell to Feathers but Rob was able to make a great stop down to his left. The next Feathers chance came as a result of some comedy officiating from Ollie. Rob patted the ball back into play and cleared it for a throw in but not before it had crossed the line by at least a yard, a fact to which the linesman appeared totally oblivious. As Greshams prepared to defend a corner they were caught unawares by a throw in being taken. However they were able to clear the danger. Finally Greshams began to get into the game and it was Nathan who had the first real chance. A great ball over the top sent Nathan scampering towards the Feathers goal with only the keeper to beat. However Nathan probably had too long to think about things and seemed caught in two minds as to whether to put his laces through the ball or place it and unfortunately, ended up doing neither and dragging his shot wide.
Greshams were seeing a lot of success by pressuring the Feathers defenders who were trying to play a style of football that their limited ability was not able to deliver. Rob nicked the ball away and set off towards the goal for another one on one but although his shot was on target, the keeper was able to make a decent save, despite having stacked as he initially came out to try and narrow the angle. Finally, Greshams did take the lead. Rob again sprinted forward and this time just beat the keeper to the ball. Rather than try to win a penalty, Rob stayed on his feet and cut the ball back to Norfolk. Steve had defenders in attendance but was able to swivel and lay the ball off to Matt who, very much on the stretch, was still able to steer the ball into the back of the net.
Half Time Greshams 1 Feathers 0
Greshams had just about deserved the half time lead on the balance of chances. With Danny settling in well at right back and linking well with Emy, they had looked dangerous going forwards and never really in any trouble at the back. At half time however Matt was feeling the effects of sleeplessness due to his young children, and decided to take a rest. Ollie came on to right midfield, with Emy going up front and Rob Minns to centre midfield.
With the wind now behind them, Greshams started the second half brightly. They were now on top, but without being able to create anything clear cut. Emy was showing his usual energy and creating all sorts of problems for the Feathers back four. After fifteen minutes or so of the half Greshams doubled their lead. The ball was laid back to Cashen who lofted the ball to the far post where Ollie, acrobatically, hooked it across goal to where Nathan was waiting to head it in to the roof of the net.
Unfortunately, however, Greshams were not able to hang on to the lead for long. Playing the ball from the back, Rich Minns took a loose touch and as Cashen tried to retrieve the ball he was adjudged to have fouled the Feathers striker. Unfortunately for Greshams the Feathers number 11 was a decent footballer and curled the ball unstoppably right in to the corner of the net.
With the game now in the balance, Greshams went in search of a third and had a golden opportunity when the ball was crossed to Emy. With the keeper advancing, Emy bravely headed the ball back across goal and was subsequently thumped in the head by the Feathers keeper. Clear penalty, and despite his pre match claim to spot kick duties, Manager Cashen decided instead to give the responsibility to someone more likely to score. This proved to be a mistake as Rob Minns stepped up to rather scuff his effort which the keeper saved comfortably. As the game went from end to end, it was Feathers who were able to get the equaliser. A corner was floated in right under the Greshams crossbar, Rob went for the ball under pressure and it was somehow forced into the net. On another day a foul on the keeper may have been given but this time the goal was allowed to stand. Things nearly got even worse for Greshams as the number 11 had another free kick opportunity which went narrowly wide with Rob scrambling across his goal. Greshams then had an opportunity to win it when Emy scampered clear. However, predictably unpredictable as usual, and perhaps not fully realising that the object of the game is to put the ball in the net, for some reason Emy elected to go for a bizarre toe poked effort which sent the ball flying high over the bar and into the field behind the goal, to guffaws from Dan Mayhew on the line and groans from the rest of his team mates. As Dan replaced Danny at right back Greshams were running out of time. In the closing minutes Cashen swung in a dangerous looking cross but the unexpected aerial menace that is Nathan was just thwarted by the attentions of the defender.
Final Score Greshams 2 Feathers 2
Man of the Match This was a tight game, with a draw probably about the right result – Greshams had probably the better chances and missed a penalty, but also had to be grateful to Rob for a couple of smart saves early doors, one of which was unconventional to say the least as ‘Big Nev’ literally stood on the ball just as it was about to cross the line. However in general Greshams will be disappointed that they never really got their passing game going and were unable to impose themselves on the game as they would have wanted. With no really outstanding performances the Man of the Match was put to a vote and won narrowly by the veteran left back Cashen, who played quite well, other than the first ten minutes, when he completely telegraphed that pass to Nathan. Still, if for nothing other than having the same hair style as Leroy Sane, Manager Cashen deserves the award, which this week is a bottle of hair restorer.