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Gresley win first game against Norton United

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 25, 2014

OPENING GOAL ... Alex Steadman set Gresley on their way.

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GRESLEY claimed their first win of their new league campaign at the Moat Ground beating newly-promoted Norton United through goals from Alex Steadman, Kieran O'Connell and Rob Ritchie-Smith.

Richard Smith scored a consolation for the visitors.

Stoke-based Norton United were making their first visit to the Moat Ground after winning the North West Counties League last season by five points and scoring over 100 goals to be promoted to the highest level in their 25 year history.

Manager Martin Rowe made two changes, giving both Martin Smyth and Jack Langston a start, with Rob Mulonga and Ritchie-Smith on the bench.

And it was the Moatmen who made the better start with O'Connell going close in the early minutes.

United's first chance fell to Michael Lennon but the shot flew over the bar. Gresley hit back with Steadman's header being blocked for a corner.

The visitors were just inches away from taking the lead on 26 minutes when a long throw-in from Tom Winkle agonisingly evaded the in-rushing Smith at the near post.

However, it was Gresley who were having the most chances.

John Guy headed Lucas Harrison's corner marginally wide of the far post and then Smyth fired a shot also wide.

Smyth had another chance moments later when he hit a low shot from Matt Roome's pass straight at United's keeper Ryan Boot.

Steadman cut in from the right only to put his shot into the side netting and then Smyth turned in the box but again Boot held onto the shot.

Gresley were creating chances and surely the second half would produce some goals.

The second period began as the first had finished with Gresley on top.

Langston brought out a fine save from Boot as his curling shot from the left was heading into the far top corner until the keeper managed to get a hand to the ball to push it away.

More good football from the home side between O'Connell and Steadman went close to opening the United defence up but Steadman's header went wide.

The goal the home crowd craved finally came just before the hour mark.

O'Connell fed a glorious ball through for Steadman to run onto and despite the attention of a defender, he strode forward and then lofted the ball past the on-rushing Boot.

That goal lifted the tension around the ground and the team responded to it and they went looking for another, forcing four consecutive corners.

Smyth sent a great ball through to Steadman who looked like he was going to repeat his opening goal but this time Boot made a good block and no Gresley player could put away the rebound.

The second goal came from a Mitch Hanson cross from the right and O'Connell was on hand to slip the ball home at the far post.

Gresley were turning the screw now with Eric Graves ending his run down the right with a shot that was blocked.

O'Connell then hit a rising shot that cleared the bar and then seconds later had a shot blocked on the line by a defender.

Harrison then had a sight of goal but he fired well over.

United reduced the deficit on 90 minutes and what a goal it was. A ball was only half cleared to Smith who hit a tremendous first time shot from 22 yards which gave Gresley keeper Tom Turner no chance as it flew into the net.

Within a minute, Gresley had restored their two-goal advantage.

Substitute Mulonga made a good run down the right and sent in a low cross which substitute Brad Wells cleverly dummied, flat-footing the defence to leave fellow substitute Ritchie-Smith to hit an unstoppable shot from just outside the area past the helpless Boot.

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