Greshams were back in action after a week off and gathered at the Club in good spirits for a game to be played in perfect conditions. Manager Cashen named the team which was, Rob in goal; a back four of Garry, Steve, Greg and Phil; a midfield 5 of Froudy, Sam, Matt,Tom and Rob, with Steve Norfolk on his won up front leaving Cash and Emy as subs. As Greshams trooped out for the usual thorough pre match routine, a strange absence was noted - footballs - critical for play, at any level. It turned out that these had been left at home by a very apologetic Harry. So as his team mates went to warm up with one borrowed football between them, Harry was despatched back home to collect the footballs and Cashen promoted himself to left back.
The game started quite evenly and Greshams tactic of packing the midfield was working quite well. Although Grosvenor were having plenty of possession, Greshams were looking dangerous when they had the ball, with Rob looking particularly threatening down the left. It was no great surprise when Greshams took the lead with their first goal of the season, and what a nice little goal it was. Cashen's ball from left back found Norfolk who in turn found Rob in space on the left. Rob advanced at pace and put a decent ball in to the box which found Froudy at the far post. Froudy still had a bit to do but wrong footed the defender and stuck the ball confidently in the back of the net.
If Greshams could have consolidated this lead the result of the match might have been different. Unfortunately however, they led for around a minute before conceding a fairly soft goal. There seemed relatively little danger as the ball was played across the edge of the Greshams box, but despite having numbers back, nobody attacked the ball for Greshams and it sat up nicely for the Grosvenor player to hit a decent strike in to the bottom corner.
Minutes later it could have been worse for Greshams when they conceded a penalty. The unlucky culprit was Sam. The challenge seemed untidy more than anything else, but the attacker went down theatrically and the referee had no hesitation. Fortunately, no harm was done as the penalty was saved. I would like to say that Rob flung himself full length to pull off a spectacular fingertip save. In the interests of accuracy however I have to say that this was as poor a penalty as you could see, going straight at Rob, who taken by surprise by the weakness of the shot, effectively sat on the ball to pull off an unorthodox save. Rob is developing a reputation as a spot kick specialist, with neither of the penalties conceded by Greshams this year having been converted!
Greshams, although largely on the back foot, did carve out a decent chance from a set play when Steve Norfolk found himself with a free header. Unfortunately it came to Steve quickly and he didn't have time to really direct the header, which went straight in to the grateful arms of the Grosvenor keeper.
Sadly, shortly later, Greshams did concede a second. This time the midfielder just outpaced Sam and struck the ball across Rob to give Grosvenor the lead.
In a game that was generally played in a decent spirit, there was an ugly incident just before half time as Froudy was a victim of a horrible tackle. For some reason Froudy seems to attract such challenges - there was a similar incident in an away game last year -and this was high and late. At half time Froudy was able to display some livid stud marks just below the knee.
Half Time Greshams 1 Grosvenor 2
Froudy came out for the second half but could barely run and so was soon substituted for the debutant Emy, who soon proved himself to be a possessor of plenty of pace. Greshams had reshuffled a bit with Rob going in the middle and Tom to the left and while this gave them more bite in the middle, their attacking threat was reduced. As the half progressed Greshams were running out of a bit of energy but had a chance to get a goal when Rob lined up a free kick on the edge of the box. Rob struck the kick as sweetly as you could like but the keeper was just able to scramble across and get a hand to the ball and stop it going in to the top corner. At the other end, for all their possession, Grosvenor were not fashioning much clear cut, and Rob was showing assured handling while the defence in front of him was solid as a unit.
Mid way through the half, Greshams conceded a third when Rob rushed out to clear his lines. Unfortunately his clearance found a Grosvenor player, who managed to stick the ball in the net as Rob tried to recover and the defenders frantically back-pedalled.
Steve Hamblin, struggling with an injury, was forced to go off and was replaced by Harry for the last 20, which Greshams saw out in relative comfort, with Harry slotting in to the centre half position. Greshams had chances toward the end of the game, notably when in a carbon copy of the third Grosvenor goal, a weak clearance found Matt Miller 30 yards out. Between a bit of fatigue and the ball not coming to him quite at the right angle, Matt was unable to get enough power and the keeper was able to get back and make the save. In the final moments there was another chance, as a decent ball in to the box was met by Steve Norfolk but once again the keeper was able to stick out a telescopic arm and divert the ball away from the top corner.
Final Score: Greshams 1 Grosvenor 3
Man of the Match
A great shift by Rob Minns, first down the left and then as part of the three in central midfield, comes close to earning the bubbly, but this week's Man of the Match goes to Steve Norfolk who, despite seeing relatively little of the ball, worked incredibly hard for the team and was unlucky not to cap his performance with a goal. Well played mate.