First Team vs. Gresley (1 : 0)
Evo-Stik League First Division South
Sheffield FC scored a vital win in their battle to avoid the drop, writes Stuart James, as they produced a blood and guts performance to beat fellow strugglers Gresley FC 1-0 at the Moat Ground.
The crucial strike in this war of attrition came from substitute Waide Fairhurst, who came from the bench to score the 65th minute winner, with the three points catapulting Club up into 17th place.
Club had hardly had the best of preparations for this game, as a motorway closure on the M1 doubled the visitors’ journey time from S18, with referee Walker delaying the kick off until 3:15pm.
The pitch wasn’t in the best of conditions, and both sides had difficulty producing football of any real quality, however despite Sheffield dominating the aerial battles it was the home side who had the better of the chances.
They went close to taking the lead on 19 minutes when Matt Melbourne made a run down the right, beating keeper Hugo Warhurst at the near post with a fierce shot, but his effort clattered back off the outside of the post.
The match became a scrap with neither sides produce much to trouble the keepers, the closest coming from home winger Pearson Mwanyongo, whose shot stung the palms of Warhurst after a good run down the left.
With Club kicking down the slope in the second period, they started to produce more chances to reflect the domination, with Leon Osborne having a shot blocked by Tom Manship’s back.
Gresley still posed a threat going up the hill, and Melbourne posed more problems for the visitors with a cross across the face of the goal, with Oliver Bassett inches away from getting the vital touch.
Danny Quinn also had a chance, however in keeping with the character of the performance, Ben Turner put his body on the line to make a last-ditch tackle.
The tenacity finally paid off on 65 minutes, as James Gregory made another of the trademark runs that had kept the home side on the back foot, squaring the ball in for FAIRHURST to calmly place into the corner of the net.
Gresley were now on the ropes, and it only seemed a matter of time before the lead was extended, as Club threw everything forward in a bid to kill the game off.
Gregory once again tormented the Moatmen’s defence with a run down the left, and following a clever dummy by Fairhurst, Osborne played in Fairhurst to force a fine save from Callum Hawkins in the home net.
The best opportunity came on 80 minutes, a ball from midfield left the home defence gasping trying to chase Osborne, and with only the keeper to beat the Sheffield man was denied by the pitch, as the ball bobbled to make his shot go wide. Very wide.
When Gregory’s shot following an Osborne nod-on was blazed over the top, it was just a matter of seeing out the final few minutes to head north with the points, and despite Shawn Richards having an effort fired straight at Warhurst, there were no real concerns for Chris Dolby’s men.
Whilst it was a solid gritty performance from all of the Sheffield players to deliver a much needed - and much deserved - victory, special mention has to be given to visiting midfielder Darryl Winter.
Seven days prior to this fixture he was playing in the Sheffield and District Over 35s Wragg League, this week he was rolling back the years in an Evo-Stik League game and a man-of-the-match performance, leading the trenches with a 90-minutes-long display of footballing passion that proves that class can last a lifetime!
Gresley FC: Hawkins, Roome, Branch, Barrett ©, Jarvis, Manship, Mwanyongo, Morris-Clarke, Quinn, Melbourne, Bassett. Subs: Morris, Meade, Phillips, Richards, Eggington.
Sheffield FC: Warhurst, Turner, Brown, Magee, Morrison, Winter, Roney, Gascoigne ©, Ryan, Osborne, Gregory. Subs: Lindley, Fairhurst, Yates, Worrall, Wigley.
|Andrew Gascoigne ©||