GRESLEY produced on of the shocks of the season with a 4-1 thumping of title contenders Leek Town in horrendous conditions at the Moat Ground on Saturday.
The decision to give Royce Turville a starting role up front reaped the rewards of a brace for the striker.
Eric Graves and Mickey Lyons also struck, before Jordan Johnson’s consolation after the hour mark.
Manager Martin Rowe was delighted with the response following the 2-1 reverse against Kidsgrove Athletic seven days earlier – but admitted to being surprised that the game beat the weather.
“We wanted a reaction after last week’s disappointing result and we got it today,” said Rowe.
“When I turned up I thought the pitch is alright, and then we had the downpour and I thought ‘no way is this game going to be on’.
“The referee decided to give it 15 minutes, so we played the game – but to be fair the pitch was only just playable.
“Credit to our lads, they played on the pitch hard and never gave Leek any time on the ball.
“We did well and the changes we made worked as well.
“Royce Turville did alright up front, got two goals and played very well.
“He linked well with Mickey Lyons who also had a good game.
“Bringing Mitch Hanson back helped. He had a good solid game.
“All through the game I thought the back four looked solid on a very difficult pitch.”
Referee Michael Scriven produced the first shock of the game after giving the match the green light, albeit with a delayed kick-off time of 3.15pm.
Turville, Lyons and Sam Grice wer given starts in the muddy, slippy, strength-sapping conditions.
The Moatmen created the first chance early on, with Lyons hitting a shot straight at visiting keeper Ben Chapman.
Gresley’s pressure paid dividends when Lucas Harrison sent over a whipped cross from the left which was met by Turville, who powered his header from eight yards past Chapman.
With clear chances at a premium, it was Gresley who next went close, when John Guy found Rob Spencer whose shot cleared the bar.
But the hosts did not have to wait long to double their advantage. On 39 minutes Turville slipped the ball back to Kieran O’Connell whose shot seemed to deceive Chapman as it headed towards the base of the near post.
The quick-thinking Graves’s took advantage and raced in to slide the ball over the line.
A shell-shocked Leek found themselves three goals behind four minutes later.
O’Connell was fouled near the left corner flag. His quick free kick found Lyons who strode forward before slotting the ball past Chapman and into the bottom far corner.
A rare attempt on the Gresley goal arrived early in the second half, when John Johnson skipped his way through the home defence, but keeper Mats Morch was alert to make a fine block.
Two minutes later the action returned down to the other end – and it was another piece of quick-thinking that saw Gresley add their fourth goal.
A quickly taken free kick was played by O’Connell, who slotted the ball through to Lyons who in turn found Turville – and his low shot beat Chapman at his near post.
With only their second attempt on the Gresley goal Leek managed to reduce the deficit.
Jordan Johnson, who did well to keep his footing, skipped across the area before burying the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Leek’s Tim Grice then went close, heading the ball straight into the midriff of keeper Morch.
Rowe, who had earlier replaced the hard-working Turville with Alex Steadman, made two further changes.
Danny Holmes and Paolo Piliero were introduced for Lyons and Grice, who had run their legs off.
The switches strengthened Gresley’s midfield and the hosts saw out the remaining minutes to claim all three points and move up a couple of places to 18th in the Evo-Stik League’s First Division South.