GRESLEY have their name in the hat for today’s FA Cup draw, but victory over Eastwood Town came at a price after Mitch Hanson, James Jepson, Rob Spencer and Dean Oliver all suffered injury on Saturday.
Tyrone Kirk’s goal nine minutes from time led to a frantic finale, but Marc Goodfellow’s brace and Dean Oliver’s early opener ensured that Gresley emerged with a 3-2 win.
“That was arguably our best performance so far,” said Gresley manager Martin Rowe. “We started well and for the first 17 minutes we were on top and dominating the game, but we allowed them back into the game and they got their tails up from that.
“We were disappointed to lose Rob Spencer so we had to go to a 4-3-3 which matched them.
“In the second half we did well. We bossed the game and controlled it for large periods and we put our chances away.
“I don’t think Marc Goodfellow was having one of his better games until he scored and then he came to life and that’s what we want.
“One of the biggest differences was having Dean Oliver back, having someone up there we could hit and hold the ball up.
“Looking ahead to the next round of the cup I’m not bothered who we get.
“We are concentrating on our next league game which is away at Goole and we’ve got to focus on that.
“We’ve got another win but we need wins in the league as well as the FA Cup.
“It’s great for the money but if you look at our league position it’s not good enough.”
Gresley started brightly and were close to taking an early lead when Eric Graves’ effort just cleared the bar.
Jepson also went close, firing wide before the breakthrough arrived on five minutes.
Kieran O’Connell’s shot was blocked but the rebound came back to Oliver who smashed the ball home.
Gresley almost added another moments later, but a final touch at the far post failed to materialise.
The lead lasted just over 10 minutes, as Gregory Simmons was put through and he finished coolly.
The Badgers were the width of the post away from taking the lead when a free kick from Kieran Wells flew across the area and skimmed the outside of the far post.
Spencer was forced to leave the pitch with just three minutes of the first half remaining after suffering a hamstring injury, and was replaced by Danny Holmes.
Within a minute of the switch Graves had a chance but fired straight at the Eastwood keeper.
Gresley came out for the second half in determined mood.
Oliver made a run down the right and his cross to Harrison was powerfully hit, but the rising shot cleared the bar.
Graves then provided a cross from the left which Oliver met with a header which needed tipping over by Alex Malong.
The home side were applying all the pressure, and it paid off on 49 minutes when Graves fed the ball to Goodfellow, who beat Malong with his shot to open up a 2-1 lead.
Goodfellow almost added a third when he robbed a defender of the ball just outside the area, and then proceeded to try and lob the keeper with an effort which barely cleared the bar.
The third goal Gresley’s play deserved came when Badgers substitute Russell Peel brought O’Connel down in the area.
Goodfellow took the kick, cheekily chipping the ball over Malong from the spot.
Hanson then limped off with an Achilles injury to be replaced by Matt Roome, and a couple of minutes later Sam Grice came on for Jepson.
Eastwood began to come back into the game with Richard Whyman firing wide. The visitors then made a change, with the lively Tristram Whitman replacing Tyrone Burton who was to have a major say in the latter stages of the game.
It was Gresley who went close again when Oliver hit a low shot which Malong did well to save down to his right.
Whitman, who had been causing a few problems for the Gresley back line, sent over a superb cross to Kirk who was in space inside the area and his first time shot beat Ross Etheridge to set up a nervy finale.
Harrison, who struggled for the final half hour with a thigh injury, bravely carried on as all the Gresley substitutes had been used – but his clearance towards the end of the game was the last straw and he was helped off.
The Moatmen were down to 10 men but held on to clinch victory.
New additions Charles Wilson and Harry Austin were both on the bench on Saturday.
Rowe said: “Charles was at Birmingham City for three years, got released and has been at Vauxhall Motors of the Conference North but couldn’t get in the side. He was looking for a club so he came to training on Thursday – we had a good look at him and liked what we saw.
“Harry can play left-back, wide left and has also had a stint at centre half as well.
“We were going to arrange a game to have a further look at him but the injuries we’ve picked up it made it difficult.”