On a sunny morning at Dumbarton Road Rec, it was a glum looking Greshams who assembled for the game against Selkirk. A couple of late call offs and no shows had left the already depleted squad truly threadbare, and it was a woebegone squad of nine gathered for the fixture. Selkirk were keen to play the game however and as Greshams adjourned to the changing room, which turned out to be the open field under the shelter of a tree, Steve Ham had the inspirational idea of phoning Gibbo, who promised to turn up when he could.
Buoyed by the possible arrival of such a half decent player, Greshams took to the field in more confident mood and lined up with Rob ‘ Neville Southall’ White in goals; a back four of Cash, Steve, Cookie and JP; a midfield three of Froudy Tom and Rob, with Steve Adams playing just ahead of them.
There was a determination about Greshams from the off that suggested that as a minimum they would keep the scoreline respectable. Steve and Cookie were handling the two strikers well, and Selkirk were finding it difficult to make their numerical superiority count. With the midfield three full of energy, and Steve putting in a shift in the more advanced positions, the minutes ticked by without Greshams conceding – and indeed the more the game went on, the more Greshams came in to things.
However, just as Greshams looked like they might even reach half time with an unexpected nil nil scoreline, they fell behind in the cruellest of fashions . The Selkirk number 11 attempted a cross from the right, only to connect with his shinpad and see the ball describe a graceful arc over the head of Rob in the Greshams goal and in to the far corner for the most fortunate of efforts.
At this point the cavalry, in the shape of Gibbo, arrived. Sadly he had no boots to fit him, but was very kindly loaned a pair by Selkirk, a decision which they later came to regret. However before Gibbo could enter the fray Greshams conceded a second. A decent pass bisected the centre halves and the number 11 was able to run on to the ball and score, again rather fortunately, through the legs of Big Nev in the Greshams goal.
However, with Gibbo in centre midfield Greshams were able to adopt a more stable shape and very nearly got in to the game before half time. Gibbo indeed nearly scored with almost his first touch, a header that he just put narrowly wide. Rob Minns had an opportunity too, bursting forward, but the keeper was able to get out and smother the ball. Next Tom, after a neat exchange of passes, found himself free in the inside right channel but at quite a tight angle. His shot was headed for the bottom corner but the keeper showed surprising agility to get down and palm the shot just wide of the post. Finally, just before half time Greshams were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position. Froudy stepped up but was unable to replicate the previous week’s dead ball heroics and sent the shot over the bar.
Half Time Selkirk 2 Greshams 0
Despite the scoreline Greshams had arguably been the better side and the dressing room was positive at half time. And indeed as the second half got under way, Greshams were the side paying all the football, with JP, neat and tidy as ever at right back, linking well with Froudy and Gibbo starting to boss the central midifield area. Greshams got back in to the game when a pass from Steve Hamblin set Gibbo on his way. Gibbo still had a lot to do but shrugged off a couple of challenges, strode into the box and rounded the keeper – almost pushing the ball too far ahead of himself. However with a final burst of pace he managed to reach the ball just in time and finish from a very acute angle.
Not long after this, Greshams were level. This time a longer hoof from Hamblin found Gibbo in the box. As Gibbo prepared to shoot, a clumsy and mistimed challenge came in, and although Gibbo managed to get his shot away, the referee Uncle Albert, correctly pointed to the spot. Gibbo dusted himself down and scored the penalty – in less than convincing fashion in all honesty, but the ball went in the net which was the important thing.
At this point Greshams were well on top and there was an air of faint desperation about Selkirk as they appealed for non existent penalties. They did have some opportunities, coming closest when the number 11 cracked in a great shot from distance which would have given Rob no chance but flew inches over. Presented with a much clearer opportunity a few minutes later, the striker skewed a slightly embarrassing effort miles wide of the post. Whenever the ball came into the Greshams box however the back four held firm, Gibbo's aerial prowess was a great help in defending set plays, and Rob's handling and command of the area were assured.
It was no surprise therefore when Greshams took the lead. Great pass and move work down the right saw Tom racing to the bye line from where he produced the perfect cross to leave a delighted Steve Adams with the easiest of tap ins.
Towards the end of the game Tom put the cherry on the cake by scoring Greshams fourth. A tussle between Steve and the Selkirk striker could have gone either way but Uncle Albert decided on a kick to Greshams mid way inside their own half. Rob's powerful hoof was totally misjudged by the left back and dropped over his head to find Tom in acres of space with the rest of the back four AWOL. As the keeper advanced, Tom kept his cool to nonchalantly produce a perfect lob that bounced into the back of the net.
The rest of the game passed in relative comfort for Greshams. With literally the last kick of the match, Gibbo produced a moment of magic when, with the keeper out of his goal, he cracked one off from the half way line. The ball flew through the air before hitting the bar and bouncing down - but was it over the line?? The Dumbarton Rec goal line technology proved inconclusive and Uncle Albert, clearly without a clue as to whether to give the goal, took the sensible way out by blowing the final whistle and bringing the game to a conclusion. A great win for Greshams against the odds, and the euphoric mood at the end of the game was in stark contrast with the doom and gloom of a couple of hours earlier.
Man of the Match
With good performances all around the pitch, it was difficult to call a man of the match so the verdict went to a vote of the players. It was so close that of the ten players who appeared, 6 received votes as Man of the Match!!! However the winner of the Moet this week is Rob White for a superb Neville Southall impersonation as the emergency stand in keeper. Rob's handling was assured, he commanded the area, and he kicked excellently, topping it all off with an assist for the last goal. Well played mate!!!