Greshams 3 Orford 1
After an enforced two week lay off Greshams assembled once again for the visit of the League leaders, Orford. After a last minute panic and a flurry of Saturday evening text messages, a few non regulars answered the call so it was a strong squad of 13 who crowded into the changing room as Cashen announced the team which was: Matt Jay in goal; back four of Steve H, Tom Potter, Danno and Phil; midfield of Jon, Frenchy, Vern and Simon, with the precocious goalscoring duo of Steve and Steve up front, who were however both nursing injuries. Subs were Cashen and the returning Ali Wright.
Greshams took to the field in their freshly laundered incandescent yellow strips, and the game was underway.
As befitted a game between two sides with promotion ambitions, the opening was a cagey affair, with the notable feature of the first twenty minutes or so being the regularity of offside decisions against Steve Burton, some of which were clearly correct and some, extremely marginal.
Chances were at a premium as the two midfields dominated the match, with some good interplay between Vern and Frenchy in the Greshams midfield. Greshams were working a few openings and Jon was finding good space down the right but there were no clear cut chances. Then, Greshams almost took the lead. A great ball from Frenchy found Simon free at the edge of the box. His shot rattled the post before bouncing out to Steve B who pounced on the rebound and belted it goalwards only for the keeper, scrambling back into position, to make the save with his legs.
Shortly after, Greshams finally did take the lead. A long hopeful punt / delicious pinpoint 50 yard pass (delete as appropriate) from Frenchy, found Burton sprinting free and for once not flagged offside. Burton made his way into the Box and thumped the ball right footed into the back of the net for a deserved lead for Greshams.
Unfortunately however, the lead lasted a matter of minutes. With Tom and Danno looking really solid up to now, it was a surprise when a bit of dithering at the back let the pacy Orford number 6 get in behind the defence. There seemed no danger as Matt approached to claim the ball but as he raced out he slipped, giving the striker a chance from a very acute angle which he did well to slip into the unguarded net.
Half time 1-1
An injury to Steve Hamblin made a reshuffle necessary at the back as Cashen came in at left back and Phil moved across to the right.
Greshams began as they had left off and playing some good football and nearly took the lead when Vernau worked some space in the box and surprised everyone, probably including himself, with an excellent right footed effort that whistled past the post. At the back Greshams looked strong and one particularly good clean tackle from Tom Potter in the penalty area prevented a good shooting chance for Orford.
Greshams took the lead again when a really good pass from Burton picked out the onrushing Frenchy in the area. Frenchy showed some great control and blasted the ball into the roof of the net for an excellent finish. Shortly afterwards Frenchy nearly scored another very similar goal but this time his control just couldn’t get the ball into position for a right footed shot and his effort went narrowly wide. Shortly after however the third goal came, as a charge down by Burton fell for Norfolk who lifted a classy finish over the keeper and into the net for another really good goal for Greshams.
The game then effectively ended as a contest when Orford were reduced to 10 men. Having used their substitute, an accidental clash saw the Orford forward take the not inconsiderable weight of Tom Potter on his ankle and have to leave the field as a result.
There was still time for a bit of drama. Ali Wright, having replaced Jon after 60 minutes and done well round the right, got into a bit of argy bargy with the Orford number 6. For some reason Simon decided to get involved and, incandescent with rage, demand a card for the Orford player for raising his arm. None was forthcoming however and indeed the game had generally been played in a good spirit and been well refereed by the volunteer ref provided by Orford after the official ref called off at the last minute.
So Greshams saw out a really pleasing victory over the league leaders which gets their promotion push back on track after a couple of disappointing results. They retired to celebrate in the changing rooms where the showers after a slow start turned out to be scaldingly hot, the players emerging various shades of incandescent red before retiring to the bar to celebrate in the traditional fashion.
Three really good goals had won the game for Greshams and the win was also built on a solid defensive display in the face of some decent attacking play by Orford. In fact Matt, while showing some good handling when called on, didn’t really have a difficult save to make. The midfield pairing of Frenchy and Vern looked really strong and once again the front two both scored and contributed a lot to the team effort. Next game for Greshams is the retrn fixture against Orford, a game which could really shape the final league table.