GRESLEY produced some of their best football “in a long time” according to manager Martin Rowe as they claimed three points at Market Drayton on Saturday.
Serge Makofo’s opener was cancelled out in the second half after the hosts took advantage of some slack defending,
But Alex Steadman netted the winner 15 minutes from time shortly after the Gingerbread Men had been reduced to 10 men.
“I thought today we played some of the best football we’ve played in a long time,” said Rowe. “The pitch suited us and it was nice to have Mickey Lyons back in the team and everything clicked in the first half.
“I was just disappointed that we didn’t go in at half time with more goals.
“They got the equaliser, but we still didn’t give up and kept going which was good to see – and hopefully we can keep it going until the end of the season.”
The game kicked off at seven minutes past three and was preceded by a minute’s silence to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy.
With Rob Spencer unavailable, a number of players out with injuries and defender Lucas Harrison serving the final game of his two-match ban, Rowe made several changes.
Mitch Hanson retained his place at the heart of the defence, alongside Jamie Barrett, while Lyons came back into midfield with Sam Grice on the bench.
On an excellent surface, Gresley had a stiff wind behind them in the opening period.
The visitors enjoyed the better of the early chances.
Kieran O’Connell fired a shot straight at Town keeper Damien Stevens, before John Guy sent his free kick narrowly the wrong side of the post.
The game then became quite cagey with neither sides creating any chances of note.
But on 32 minutes Gresley took the lead. Guy cleverly flicked the ball over a defender to send O’Connell racing into the area.
When he got to the by-line O’Connell cut the ball back for Steadman, who was unlucky to see his first-time shot hit the inside of the near post.
The rebound flew across goal where Makofo was on hand to slot the ball into the net at the far post.
Gresley had two decent chances to extend their advantage.
Makofo had a shot saved by Stevens before Barrett sent his header from Paolo Piliero’s corner wide.
The Moatmen started the second half brightly with Makofo hitting a low shot just wide of the post after turning smartly in the area.
Gresley were caught napping just before the hour mark.
A corner from the right by Will Whieldon came across the box to Stevens, who was left unmarked at the far post and duly steered his header into the net.
Five minutes later Town were reduced to 10 men when Nicky Porter was shown a second yellow card for a nasty foul.
Having a player less seemed to spur the home side on and they were unfortunate not to have taken the lead four minutes later.
Another corner caused Gresley problems and a low shot seemed goal-bound but Matt Roome cleared off the line.
Gresley took the lead when O’Connell fed the ball through to Steadman who raced into the area and struck a shot which, despite Stevens getting both hands to the ball, ended up in the back of the net.
To Town’s credit they refused to let their heads drop and went close twice. Yet another poorly defended corner saw Kyle Blake put his free header wide of the mark.
Then, Yannick Makota was given far too much time and space in the area to turn and fire a shot which Gresley keeper Mats Morch did well to save.
At the other end a short corner between Steadman and O’Connell saw the ball played across the edge of Town’s area and substitute Grice cracked a shot wide of the near post.
O’Connell then flicked a free kick the ball over two defenders to Guy, who had run in behind but could only the side netting.
Gresley had the final chance of the game when Steadman’s short corner came to substitute Zibusiso Nyatito, who in turn picked out fellow substitute Brad Wells. Stevens did extremely well to block the initial shot and Wells could only put the rebound wide of the target.