With the pitches at Greshams once again being the only ones in the County to be 'waterlogged', the hard working Greshams secretary Mike Potter was once again able to organise a pitch at Gainsborough Sports Centre for the home fixture against Whitton Eagles. Recovered from his sick bed, but still not fit enough to take his place in the starting 11, Manager Cashen had the luxury of naming an unchanged side so Greshams lined up with Rob in goals; a back four of Harry Greg Hamblin and Harry; in midfield Matt Rob Sam and Emy, with Norfolk and Meng up front and Cashen and Phil as subs.
From the start it was clear this would be a tough fixture for Greshams, who started the game off on the back foot. With the number 10 for Eagles pulling the strings in midfield, and Greshams at times not competing strongly enough for the ball, Whitton enjoyed most of the early possession and territory. However rather against the run of play it was Greshams who took the early lead, and a good goal it was. Emy was showing his usual pace and trickery down the right and got in an excellent cross which was met by a firm header from Matt at the back post. The keeper managed to scramble across to parry but it only dropped to the arch poacher Norfolk, who collected the ball with his back to goal, swivelled, and knocked it into the empty net from point blank range.
The goal should have settled Greshams but instead it was Whitton who continued to impose themselves on the game with Greshams largely second best. However for all the possession, Eagles weren't really hurting Greshams with Greg and Steve marshalling the front two effectively and Rob remaining more or less untroubled in the Greshams goal. Eagles would be disappointed with their finishing on a couple of occasions, but really only came close when their winger got free down the right and put in a cross which was met by a great header on target, only for the ball to come back off the post with Rob well beaten.
Half Time Greshams 1 Eagles 0
The second half continued largely in the same pattern as the first, with Eagles pressing forwards but unable to put Rob in the Greshams goal under any pressure, through Rob did make one good save down to his right pushing the ball out for a corner. In fact the corner count for Eagles was mounting but they were unable to convert any of them into real opportunities. Instead it was Greshams who doubled their advantage. Meng got himself some space down the right and was able to dig out a great cross to the far post where Matt, rushing in, was able to produce a lovely volley back across the keeper giving him no chance.
This second could fairly be described as against the run of play. Manager Cashen made a change, swapping Phil for Harry. Whitton continued to press and eventually got the goal they deserved. Greg and Hamblin had been immaculate all day but they were undone on this occasion and the striker was able to finish from close range. With the scoreline close, things were threatening to boil over, with the always feisty Eagles number 9 rather losing the plot. Greshams sensibly didn't get involved and instead went up the other end and added a third. The ball was bobbling about in the box but Sam managed to knock it over to Emy who calmly lobbed the onrushing keeper to restore the two goal advantage.
At this point manager Cashen decided that with only 7 minutes to go it was time for some additional experience, and brought himself on for Norfolk as Greshams stiffened up with five in midfield. With just a few minutes on clock, Greshams won a corner, which may indeed have been their first corner of the game. Matt stepped up and with a bit of wind assistance, curled it straight in to the top corner.
There was still time for some late drama as a hoof down the middle from Eagles was not really dealt with and while Rob did really well with the first effort, the rebound was tucked away by the Eagles striker. This was to be pretty much the final action however and the referee brought the game to an end to signal a highly significant three points for Greshams.
Man of the Match
In a game where for long spells Greshams were under the cosh, they showed real resilience at the back. The difference between the two teams was that Greshams were able to find that little bit of extra quality in front of goal when it mattered. However, for the strong rearguard action that gave Greshams the chance to push on and win the game, the bubbly goes to a defender this week. A tough call among the back four, all of whom were excellent, but the vote goes to Greg for a determined display of tackling and heading. Well played mate.