It was another lovely day for football as Greshams gathered at Dumbarton Road Rec for the customary fixture against Selkirk Reserves. Given the awful 'facilities' offered by the Dumbarton Road Hut, it was lucky indeed that the weather was good and Greshams manfully got changed in the open air. They were then to find that the ref had been delayed in arriving due to crowd congestion in the Dumbarton Road area, and kick off was delayed by 15 minutes.
Despite some frantic texting by manager Cashen and skipper Hamblin, Greshams could only scrape together a bare 11 for this fixture. The academy, after their unexpected, Subway-clutching arrival the previous week, were unavailable. However, though lacking in numbers there was some quality in the match day 11. With Jamie Carrington making a debut and Gibbo and Dan Mehmed their first appearances of the season, there was a slightly unfamiliar look to the team who lined up with Rob in goals; a back four of Jamie, Dan, Hamblin and Cash; in midfield Ash, Sam, Rob Minns and Froudy; and Steve Norfolk and Gibbo up front.
It was clear from the start that Greshams were in better form this week. For the first 5 minutes Selkirk hardly had a kick as Greshams passed the ball among themselves, comfortable and confident in possession, with Rob Minns the fulcrum of most of the play in the centre midfield area. However, typically, just as they playing as well as at any time this season, Greshams found themselves behind. A decent ball in from the right was met first time by the striker for a good goal giving Rob no chance. There were strong suspicions of offside about the goal but given Greshams' failure to provide a linesman, they could have no complaints.
Fortunately this did not phase Greshams and they continued to pass the ball around with Ash looking increasingly dangerous down the right. After twenty minutes or so they were level and what a nice little goal it was, starting with Rob rolling the ball out to Cash in the left back position, the ball being cleverly worked up the pitch, and ending with Froudy supplying Gibbo who provided a neat finish in to the bottom corner.
It was only a matter of time before Greshams added to the score because they were playing some really good stuff, with Cashen rolling back the years with one mazy run across the pitch and Dan enjoying his self appointed 'libero' role. Sure enough they soon added a second and Steve Norfolk will be glad to be off the mark for the season, albeit rather luckily. Gibbo did the hard work this time, beating his man and getting to the bye line before pulling the ball back for Ash to smash goalwards, with Ash's shot being intentionally (?!) diverted in to the net by the arch poacher Norfolk.
There was time for Greshams to emphasise their dominance with a third before half time, and this time it was all down to the persistence and pace of Ash down the right. Some great work from Ash culminated in him finding Gibbo unmarked in the box and this time Gibbo smashed it past the keeper giving him no chance.
Half Time Selkirk 1 Greshams 3
It is a long time since possession stats were so heavily in their favour, and surely it was just a question of how many Greshams would score. Unfortunately however they became a little complacent, to the great frustration of skipper Hamblin, and on one or two occasions were guilty of causing their own problems. However in honesty they never looked like being in trouble and Rob hardly had to make a save worthy of the name.
With Jamie looking comfortable on the ball and linking well with Ash down the right, and Rob and Sam dominating the midfield, it was inevitable that Greshams would make chances, and make them they did; only, unfortunately, to squander them. Froudy was the unfortunate culprit on more than one occasion. The approach play that got him free inside the box for the best of his chances was excellent but unfortunately the ball fell to his weaker left foot and the shot was scuffed rather miserably wide.
With maybe half an hour of the half gone, Greshams finally got the goal they deserved, and this time it was a rare goal for the hard working Sam. Gibbo's pass set him free in the area, and although the keeper saved the first effort, he could not hold on to the ball and it fell straight at Sam's feet for him to slot in to the empty net.
The was still time for Greshams to miss another couple of opportunities, notably when Norfolk's header from point blank range went to the only spot in the goal where the keeper could save it, but all in all, this was a very satisfying performance from Greshams. It wasn't just the victory, although the three points are very welcome; it is the manner of it that was satisfying with the ball being passed around with confidence. Hamblin and Mehmed defended well when called upon and Rob showed great energy in midfield while Ash had his best game so far. Of course a player of Gibbo's quality always helps but the challenge now for Greshams is to continue this form against tougher opposition.
Man of the Match
Consensus during the after match drinks was that the contenders were Ash, Rob Minns, and the ageing left back although to be honest, all 10 outfield players played their part and even Rob, despite having no real saves to make, handled everything securely and distributed the ball well. However I'm going to give the bubbly to Rob Minns who despite a rather unprofessional Saturday night on the town lasting till 5a.m., managed to produce a high energy performance which was also creative, and even included some hard defensive work when needed. Well played mate.