14:00 Sunday 15 December 2013

SLIDESHOW: Gresley 3, Newcastle Town 0


THREE second-half goals gave Gresley the points against Newcastle Town at the Moat Ground on Saturday.

Rob Spencer broke the deadlock just before the hour mark.

Kieron O’Connell then weighed in with a brace to see off a determined Castle, who forced some heroics from Gresley keeper Mats Morch.

Gresley boss Martin Rowe conceded that his side were poor in the opening 45 minutes – with conditions hampering the hosts.

He said: “The pitch wasn’t very good and the wind went up and up.

“We really struggled in the first half. The pitch killed us.

“We reorganised at half time and went a bit more direct, and it came off.

“Kieron O’Connell was getting frustrated – he was trying to get on the ball.

“But the way the pitch was he just couldn’t get hold of it, then he was trying to do things and it just wasn’t happening – but he scored two very good goals.”

The Moatmen picked up their first clean sheet in Evo-Stik First Division South since the 0-0 draw with Lincoln United on October 21 – and Morch produced several good saves.

Rowe said: “That’s what goalkeepers are meant to do! He’s dealt with everything and done very well again.”

Gresley suffered a below before kick-off when Mitch Hanson picked up an injury during the warm-up, with Sam Grice taking his place at right-back.

Skipper Jamie Barrett was still absent while Royce Turville took a spot on the bench due to a back problem.

The hosts started brightly with Spencer going close with just six minutes on the clock, when his flick from Paolo Piliero’s cross hit the far post.

Castle came back strongly with a good shot having to be parried by Morch.

They went close again when a swift attack down the right by Tom France ended with a pass to Jordan Cole, who flashed a shot across the face of goal.

The action swung to the other end with O’Connell laying the ball back for Alex Steadman, who fired a delicious curling shot around Castle keeper Andrew Mills – but also just the wrong side of the far post.

Town were almost gifted a goal when Grice’s back pass failed to get back to Morch and was collected by Cole.

But the Gresley keeper saved Grice’s blushes making a fine block with his legs.

The Moatmen went close when a cross from the left was missed in the area by Spencer.

Jack Langston picked up the pieces and smashed a shot in, which was well saved by Mills.

As the first half drew to a close Gresley created two more chances.

Leon Ashman almost put the ball into his own net from Piliero’s cross. And from the resulting corner from Langston, John Guy hit a shot which was well held by Mills.

Gresley made the first chance of the second half when Langston’s goal-bound shot was deflected away for a corner.

Castle were not to be outdone, with Thomas Urwin curling a shot past the far post.

The visitors would rue that miss, as three minutes later Gresley took the lead.

A terrific shot from just inside the area was blocked, but Spencer followed up to smash the rebound into the net.

On 66 minutes Gresley doubled their advantage.

O’Connell was quickly onto an attempted back pass and beat the visiting keeper to the ball.

O’Connell was forced wide but unleashed a cracking shot which was headed clear – but from a couple of feet behind the goal-line.

And with the assistant referee perfectly placed the goal was given.

Langston then tried an audacious lob which almost caught Mills out, but ended up just clearing the bar.

Spencer fired across the Castle goalmouth as Gresley continued to threaten, and seconds later went even closer – with the forward denied by the woodwork for a second time.

At the other end Morch had to be alert, holding onto a well struck from Cole.

Gresley bagged their third with five minutes remaining. Guy collected inside his own area and made a rampaging run down the middle of the park, only to be tripped just outside the Town area.

Play was allowed to continue as the ball ran out to O’Connell on the left, who smashed the ball beyond Mills.

In the final action, Morch made a superb save, pushing Urwin’s goal-bound shot away for a corner.

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