Home cup match played on 18 November 2012.
Kicked off at 10:15 AM

With Tommo and skipper Steve Burton on family duty,and Cookie's shaving cut still keeping him out 'on nurse's orders', it was a slightly depleted Greshams squad that assembled at the Club. Nevertheless spirits were high in the dressing room. The menu for the Christmas bash was forced to be revised after Josh revealed the woeful standards of hygiene in the Cardinal Park KFC, while Tony treated everyone to a fascinating exposition of the narrative behind the Puccini favourite Nussun Dorma.


When it came to team selection it was an unfamiliar 4-5-1 for Greshams. Josh was in goal with a back four of Beardo, Rob, Hamblin and Cash; the five man midfield consisted of Froudy, Tony, JP, Tom and Steve; while Rob was left to plough a lone furrow up front with Snelly as the only sub.


The high viz Spartans started at a high tempo, but while they had plenty of the ball, Josh was not really being called in to action. Indeed, the best chance for Spartans of the opening period, fell to the Greshams right back Beardo. A cross from the Spartans right found its way to Beardo as he ran back to defend his goal. Some defenders would have cleared the ball but instead, Beardo, perhaps confused as to which way Greshams were kicking, lashed an unstoppable shot goalwards. Luckily for Greshams the ball thudded against the post and rebounded to safety, leaving most of the players incredulous at what they had just witnessed.


After half an hour the makeshift Greshams were looking quite comfortable. As they came into the game they were knocking the ball around well. Tom was back to something like his best and was combining well with JP Rob and Froudy. Tony was shielding the back four effectively and Hamblin and Rob had the shackles on the Spartans front two. It needed something special or lucky to break the deadlock. Sadly for Greshams they went behind to a very well struck shot from the edge of the area after they had cleared a corner, the ball screaming through a crowd of bodies to give Josh no chance. Moments later disaster struck with a second for Spartans. Gresham's kick off routine of trying to work the ball to the right back (why?????) came badly unstuck, the back four were sleeping as the attacker was played in, and he ran through to finish confidently beyond Josh.


However then Greshams struck back, and what a well worked goal it was. Great interplay down the right saw Tom get to the bye line from where he whipped in an absolutely perfect cross. Tony had marauded forwards and climbed above the defenders to plant a fine downwards header into the net to give Greshams a lifeline. Unfortunately for Tony, his celebration, which he seemed to expect his team mates to join in with, left everyone scratching their heads. Was there perhaps a reference to the story behind Nessum Dorma in there somewhere????


Half time Greshams 1 Spartans 2


The second half carried on where the first left off, with Spartans seeing a lot of the ball but Greshams defending well as a unit. Greshams were still creating, and looked really dangerous when Froudy was knocking in corners and free kicks. However three quick goals broke Greshams resistance. The first saw the attacker get on the end of a long punt and, with Josh caught in two minds, run on to score. Next a free kick eluded Steve Ham who lost the flight of the ball in the sun, and finally, Cashen missed the chance to clear the ball, the attacker stole it and the ball found its way into the net courtesy of a bit of a goalmouth scramble.


It could have been worse for Greshams as the Spartans number 10 rounded Josh, but with a blooper to eclipse Beardo's first half effort, stabbed the ball wide of a literally empty net.


With the result decided the game meandered to a scrappy and bad tempered conclusion. Rob was unluckily booked for persistently winning the ball in the challenge, while a cynical scything foul on Cashen brought a yellow for the Spartans player, to accompany the polite constructive criticism of his tackling technique that he received from the veteran. Spartans also had clearly decided the only way to stop Tom was to kick him out of the game and he was victim of some hefty challenges and snide kicks after the ball had gone.


Under the circumstances it was a shame Greshams couldn't get the consolation they deserved, the best chance probably falling to the substitute Snelly who connected well with his shot but couldn't keep it down and it flew over to leave Greshams beaten.


Full time Greshams 1 Spartans 5


Man of the Match


With a few regulars missing, the unfamiliar line up did well until the three quick second half goals decided the result. The back four were solid and organised, the midfield both defended well and used the ball well, and Rob made a good fist of the lone striker role.


Having been accused of ignoring defenders for MoM awards,this week's goes to Rob. Solid in the tackle and in the air, he held the back four together, defended corners well, and put in some great blocks and challenges and was very unlucky to be yellow carded. Well played.


At the opposite end of the spectrum, Beardo had a generally good game, but in awarding the scores, his comical lashing of the ball against his own post cannot be ignored, and this will dilute his hitherto impeccable average rating of 10!!!!


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