Fresh from two convincing wins, Greshams gathered at the Club, for what was to be, unbelievably, their first home game of 2014. The opposition, Trinity, beat Greshams convincingly in the corresponding fixture last year, so Greshams were expecting a sterner test than in the previous two fixtures. The team trying to achieve a third successive victory was: making a welcome return, Steve Burton between the sticks in a comically small keeper's shirt; a back four of Cash, Cooky, Hamblin and Beeson; in midfield Froudy, a new central pairing of Sam and Rich Minns with Matt on the left; with Steve Norfolk and Rob Minns up front and Mark Kinlan on the bench.
It was a glorious day for a game and the first few minutes we reaction packed. Within a minute Greshams had a clear chance as Rob found himself in the clear. With the angle acute however, Rob decided to lash in a shot rather than find the well placed Steve Norfolk, and the chance went begging. However, moments later another Greshams attack saw the ball, possibly en route to the net, strike the arm of a Trinity defender. Penalty awarded and up stepped Froudy to take the coolest possible penalty in to the top corner.
The first half continued with both teams rather cancelling each other out. Greshams were playing the better football, but set plays, especially the long throw, were proving a threat for Trinity. There was as chance of another penalty for Greshams when the ball once more struck a Trinity hand - this one perhaps more obvious than the first. However the referee was a long way from the incident and waved play on.
Half time Greshams 1 Trinity 0
The rather cagey first half gave no clue of the goal fest to come in the second. Greshams had their customary slow start to the half and were causing themselves all sorts of problems. Trinity were soon back on terms and it was no surprise that it came from a set play, a long lobbed throw in being flicked on at the front post to find the striker who swivelled smartly in front of Phil and found the net from close range.
Fortunately Greshams responded positively to this setback and within minutes, regained the lead. A great ball from Froudy found Rob running down the inside right channel and without breaking stride Rob lashed the ball unstoppable in to the roof of the net. Just a few minutes later there was a third for Greshams. This time Norfolk showed great determination and perseverance to keep hold of the ball in the box. He knocked the ball to Rich Minns who smashed it left footed right in to the corner of the net for a great finish.
With Greshams now apparently well in command, Kinlan was brought on for Phil at right back and was immediately involved, showing good pace and energy down the right. It was the hapless Kinlan however who was the victim of a shocking refereeing decision when the ball brushed his hand - which was firmly by his side - and the referee pointed to the spot to the disbelief of the Greshams players. This disbelief was expressed a little too volubly by Cooky, who found himself in the book for his protests. The number 10 never looked like missing the penalty and thumped it into the net.
Greshams were now grateful to Steve Burton for some excellent saves, the pick of which saw him recover his ground and make a remarkable left handed save when the Trinity players were virtually celebrating the goal.
Luckily however Greshams were able to dispel any anxiety with two more quick goals. First Rob got free and crossed for Steve Norfolk who in trademark fashion beat the defender before thumping the ball low into the net. The fifth came from a classic own goal; Rob's cross was horribly sliced into his net by the Trinity skipper.
With the score now 5-2 the game became niggly and Cashen was victim of a a horrendous lunging tackle. However, Cashen's usual measured reaction was a great example to any young players watching.
Trinity managed to get one back from another set play. This time a corner was headed in by the striker, just crossing the line before Steve Burton could get to it.
So although they had their keeper to thank for some great saves, Greshams ran out deserving winners. Sam showed his usual energy in the middle of the park while Cooky and Hamblin were their dependable selves at the heart of the defence - despite Hamblin getting away with the most obvious handball of the match. With Matt finding more space and using the ball well down the left, Greshams played most of the football and ended up good value for a 5-3 win.
Man of the Match
A number of candidates. The Brothers Minns contributed well with Rich impressing in centre midfield and Rob involved in three of the goals. However for two or three outstanding saves the Bollinger this week goes to Steve Burton. Well played mate.