Greshams turned up for the ‘Away’ fixture to Willis with the unheard of luxury of a 13 man squad and even better, an elegant, if malodiferous ‘new’ purple kit. The squad squeezed itself into the changing room to hear the team news. Cookie continued in goal. With the returning veteran full backs Cashen and Beeson (combined age – 90) flanking Mickey Lewis and Danno at centre half, the blend of youth and experience was completed by a distinctly fresh faced midfield featuring some products of the Greshams youth academy. On the right was Keiron Teeder getting his competitive debut, with Frenchy and Luke in the middle and Richard Hunn on the left, with the free scoring duo of Norfolk and Burton up front leaving Jon and Steve as the two subs.
With such a strong squad Greshams were soon into their stride and were playing some nice football with the midfield looking particularly strong. However Willis held their own in the opening exchanges, and against the run of play Willis took the lead with an absolute screamer from more than 25 yards out. Cookie was well positioned but had no chance with the shot which crashed against the underside of the bar before coming to rest in the back of the net.
However Greshams had no need to panic given how well they were playing and sure enough they were soon level, full back Beeson marauding forward before slipping the ball to Frenchy just inside the box. Frenchy took the ball in his stride before lashing an unstoppable shot across the keeper and into the net.
Once level, Greshams grew in confidence and soon added three more goals. Two of these came from the excellent deliveries of corners by Luke Bloomfield, the first being flicked on by Norfolk and lashed home by Burton for his first of the season, the second somehow being forced in by Mickey Lewis from point blank range. The fourth goal was something special however. Frenchy was fouled on the edge of the D and Burton stepped up with confidence to thump a curling free kick round the wall and perfectly just inside the post.
Half Time Willis 1 – 4 Greshams
Injury forced a change for Greshams as Jon came on for Phil at right back. This didn’t affect the Purples however as they continued to play good football. The only surprise was that it took them some time to add to their tally, the fifth goal coming once again from that man Burton completing his hat trick. Next to get in on the act was Jonny, nominally playing right back but raiding forward at every opportunity, stroking the ball home after a good build up and demonstrating that finishing isn’t all about power. The scoring was rounded off by a thoroughly deserved goal from Luke Bloomfield who had an excellent game in centre midfield, converting from close range after some good work down the left by Richard Hunn. A great scoreline for Greshams who even had the luxury of missing some gilt edged chances, Burton proving that he does miss occasionally when trying an outside of the boot finish rather than trusting his left foot, and Frenchy lashing embarrassingly high and not at all handsome from close range.
So Greshams season is finally up and running and this win sent them third in teh embryonic MB3 table. Mickey Lewis expertly marshalled the experienced back four, all of whom were comfortable on the ball. The midfield looked particularly strong with the addition of the energy, skill and pace of Keiron and the strength and power of Frenchy allowing Luke and Richard to enjoy more freedom and have their best games so far. Up front the two Steves looked as ever a lethal partnership.
Next up – grudge match v Chantry Phoenix, but Greshams will be confident against any opposition on this performance.