Gresley fly high with impressive win over Heather
Uhlsport UCL Premier North
Gresley Rovers 4
Hart 22, 49, Munday 40, Seal 44
Heather St John's 2
Spruce 17, 33pen
Gresley Rovers moved into second in the Uhlsport United Counties League after a 4-2 win against Heather St John’s at the Moat Ground.
In what was an action-packed first-half, the Moatmen fought back from behind on two occasions before gaining the lead themselves through Ryan Seal on the brink of half-time.
Steve Hart, who scored a sublime free-kick with his first goal of the game, artfully placed a half-volley in the second-half to double his side's advantage and put the game beyond Heather St John’s.
In what was a cagey opening ten minutes, it was Heather who had the opening chance. Collecting the ball outside the box, James Spruce swivelled to find space before driving his attempt straight into the gloves of Charlie Leake.
The away side had control of the opening exchanges on what was a wet Tuesday night. Passing the ball at speed and pressing high up the pitch, Gresley were pinned into their own half.
Spruce came closer to scoring once again, but his shot from close at a tight angle was blocked well by the ‘keeper.
Having dominance physically, Hart was always a danger to the away side. Latching onto a punt up the pitch, the inform striker got to the ball before goalkeeper Aiden Jeynes, lobbing the ball over the ‘keeper but aiming his shot just wide the post.
The home side were made to pay for their missed chance, with Spruce scoring his first of the game. After having his shot saved by Leake, the ball was played back into his feet from the left-wing. Controlling the ball well, Spruce rifled his shot into the near post to give his side the lead.
Hart showed previous warning signs with his previous misplaced attempt and made no mistake with his second chance of the game. Lining up a free-kick on the outskirts of the area, the forward smashed his shot across the goal into the top corner, giving Jeynes no chance.
Momentum swung in the favour of the home side, but a penalty against the run of play put the away side back ahead. Running through on goal, Cameron Collins seemed to have been challenged cleanly by a lunging Leake inside the box, but referee Simon Kavanagh pointed to the spot. After waiting with the ball for a couple of minutes whilst the decision was being made, Spruce stepped up and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way to get his second of the game.
Gresley’s aggrievance from falling behind seemed to spur the side on to get back into the game. After previously having two headers saved by Jeynes, Munday scored with his third attempt on target.
Having his original shot blocked, Munday fired his following attempt low past the outstretched ‘keeper.
Just minutes after the break, the Moatmen took the lead for the first time in the game. Running down the right-flank, Kane Lee whipped a pinpoint cross into captain Seal, who powered his header into the net.
Obviously impressed by his efforts, manager Carl Abbott ran down the touchline to congratulate Lee for his contribution towards the goal.
The momentum Gresley obtained from their late first-half goals continued into the second, with Hart scoring his second of the game. A lobbed free-kick by Lee Butler dropped perfectly for Hart over on the left of the area and he fired a powerful first-time volley from a tight angle across the ‘keeper and into the far corner.
Lee’s hard-working efforts throughout the match were almost rewarded with a goal on the hour mark. Hart, who scored twice prior to the attack, came close to having an assist to his name when his chipped ball reached Lee at the back post, but his strike from close range flew over the bar.
Heather had limited chances in the second-half but could have pulled one back with 20 minutes to play. Intricate play around the box eventually resulted in a golden opportunity for Sam Ellis, but the striker pulled his attempt wide of the post.
Ellis, who missed the previous chance, came even closer to scoring with his next attempt when he went one-on-one with the ‘keeper.
Breaking away from the defenders, he was denied a goal by substitute Lewis Fenney, who made himself big to smother the shot.
Gresley saw out the victory, but there will be a level of concern around Hart. Scoring 11 goals in his last six games, the potent forward was forced off through injury with five minutes remaining.
Despite the disappointing ending to the game, the Moatmen will be pleased to have secured their seventh consecutive win in all competitions.