MICKLEOVER SPORTS 2
IT took Gresley 60 minutes and three substitutions to get going against local rivals Micklover Sports – but by the time the visitors woke up it was too late.
Indeed, it looked as if it was going to be as bleak a Monday afternoon for the Moatmen as the weather.
They failed to show any cutting edge to worry Sports until Martin Smyth’s first goal for the club gave them a big lift and at last they threatened to snatch an unlikely point.
Gresley manager Martin Rowe kept faith with the side which had comfortably beaten Norton United at the Moat Ground on Saturday.
And it almost paid off with Alex Steadman heading Mitch Hanson’s cross from the left just wide.
Unfortunately, it was a false dawn as the hosts took control, snuffing out any attempt from Gresley to get a foothold in the game.
Sports took the lead with their first corner of the game.
A ball was whipped in from the right by Andy Dales and Ashley Grayson connected to head powerfully past helpless Gresley keeper Tom Turner.
The Sports pressure was building and it took a smart save from Turner to prevent them from adding a second.
Kyle Bryant then put a header wide as another goal seemed certain to arrive.
However, a glimmer of hope came at the other end for the visitors when Smyth hit a rasping low shot from distance that flew marginally wide.
Again Sports were putting the Gresley goal under pressure, with Karl Ashton shooting over and then, from yet another corner, a deflection off a Gresley defender needed clearing off the line by Hanson.
Ashton then cleverly turned his marker but fired wide and another attempt also went wide as the first half ended with Gresley somehow only one goal down.
Within 10 minutes of the re-start, though, Sports had the second they had threatened – and it came from another set piece.
A needless free kick was conceded on the right which Karl Demidh launched into the area, where Ashton was waiting to flick the ball past Turner.
On 61 minutes, Rowe made changes, bringing on Brad Wells, Rob Ritchie-Smith and Hayden Johns.
It seemed to give the side a lift as they at last began to find ways through the solid Sports midfield and defence.
Ritchie-Smith almost had an immediate impact but his free kick from the right was deflected over the bar but Gresley got on the scoresheet from the resulting corner.
Harrison curled in a good ball from the right and Smyth headed home at the near post for his first league goal for the club.
Gresley looked far more dangerous than at any time in the game and went looking for another goal which ten minutes earlier had looked very unlikely.
A spell of good passing football saw a stinging low shot from Ritchie-Smith which keeper Chris Smith needed two goes at to hold onto.
A free kick from Harrison found Kieran O’Connell who could only fire straight into Smith’s midriff and that elusive second goal for Gresley failed to materialise.
The Moatmen now turn their attention to the visit of Cleethorpes Town in the preliminary round of the FA Cup on Saturday.