After defeat in their last outing Greshams faced yet another home fixture with the challenge of returning to winning ways. Tony Newton was cleared to play and another new signing, Matt Miller, was handed his debut up front. With Kevin Cook returning from suspension, and Rob White and Steve Hamblin apparently forgiven by manager Cashen for a serious breach of Club discipline in spending the previous weekend on the lash, Greshams lined up: Josh in goal; a back four of Phil, Cookie, Hamblin and Cashen; in midfield Froudy, Tony, Tom and Jonny; and up front Ryan and Matt, with the bench being Steve Adams, Rob and Anthony.
Once again the success of the team early season, had pulled in the crowds, with this time an unprecedented gate in the region of 20 seeing Gresham start the game in scrappy fashion. With Stage working hard to close them down and Tom struggling to get on the ball in the middle of the park, Greshams were struggling for fluency but were nevertheless creating the better chances as the Stage back four was too square too often. Early on Ryan, who had his best game so far, was put through only to see the keeper make a fine save to deny him his first goal for the club. Matt also found himself free on a couple of occasions only to see the keeper make good stops and on one occasion the ball trickle agonisingly wide.
Greshams were benefitting also from some generous refereeing decisions giving Froudy the chance to whip in some dangerous free kicks. One of these was met by Steve Ham with a free header that bounced just the wrong side of the post.
While Greshams were not at their best, Froudy was having his full back on toast every time he got the ball and chances were coming regularly for Greshams, who finally took the lead through Tom Cashen. Tom initially made the pass through to Jonny, who showed pace that nobody knew he possessed to latch on to the through ball. With characteristic calmness Jon went for a dinked finish, only for the keeper, who had a really good game, to throw up a hand and make the save. The ball bounced clear to Tom and the diminutive playmaker put a brilliantly delicate lob over the head of several back pedalling defenders and in to the net for a goal he fully deserved.
With Tony Newton struggling with a sore back, Greshams were conceding possession but saw the half out without major scares. However they were grateful for some wayward finishing when another towering clearance from the Stage keeper deceived Steve Ham allowing the striker a run on goal. Luckily however the strikers effort was sent wastefully off target.
Half time Greshams 1 Stage 0
The injury to Tony Newton saw a half time reshuffle from Greshams with Jon moving to the middle and Cashen to left midfield, with Rob coming on at right back and Phil moving across to the left.
The second half followed the pattern of the first with Greshams struggling to impose themselves but Stage really failing to trouble Josh in the Greshams goal. Froudy was continuing to cause problems with his pace down the right and was receiving a thorough kicking from the fulll back. On one occasion he should have had a penalty when he was caught going in to the box, but the fall was perhaps a little too theatrical and the referee waved play on.
With Ryan now tiring up front, Tony Newton, taking responsibility for substitutions, made an inspired move. Steve Adams was sent on up front and within minutes, grabbed Greshams' second. The ball was played into the box by Tom, and Steve and the keeper converged on the pass. The keeper got there first but only succeeded in belting the ball into Steve's shin pads, whence it bobbled apologetically straight into the net for a goal Greshams just deserved on the balance of chances.
Minutes later Steve should have had a second when a lung bursting sprint down the left by the veteran Cashen ended surprisingly in a decent ball into the box. Totally unmarked however, Steve got his feet in a tangle, stood on the ball, tripped over it and generally did everything he could to make a total hash of the gilt edged opportunity!
Froudy, battered and bruised, was replaced by Anthony. Greshams conceded a late goal from a corner, and then had a moment of panic as Josh allowed a through ball to run into the area but instead of catching it, bizarrely tried to fly-hack it to safety. The ball skewed off the outside of his boot to the attacker, who luckily made an awful mess of the resulting chance. Greshams then saw out the last 10 minutes in relative comfort for a hard fought three points.
Man of the Match - Tom Cashen, a fine all round performance from the pocket dynamo capped by a goal
Donkey of the Day - Steve Adams, despite scoring opff his shins, robbed Cashen senior of a rare assist with a comedy attempt at a finish!!!!!!