• Alfie Burley

Gresley suffer FA Vase pain as Congleton ease to win

A first-half capitulation saw Gresley’s FA Vase campaign come to an end in a comprehensive 5-0 defeat to Congleton Town.

Three goals in the opening 20 minutes set the precedent for what would be a disappointing afternoon in Congleton, with Lee Williamson, Aaron Bott and Jonathan Beaumont getting themselves on the score-sheet.

A fourth before the break from Bott put the result beyond Rovers’ reach, and despite an improved second period, the Bears still managed to stretch their lead through William Buckley late on.

Gresley began this first round FA Vase tie in the worst possible way, conceding a goal just two minutes into the contest. After being provided acres of space to deliver a cross on the left hand-side, the ball fell to the experienced Williamson, who struck past Joe Fryatt confidently.

Sensing fragility in the Rovers defence, Congleton continued to press and seven minutes later they would double their advantage. After winning the ball high up the pitch, Aaron Jones squared to Bott who had the simple task of finishing into an unguarded net.

Having made one mistake, Gresley compounded this with more errors, and in the 19th minute they would once again be brutally punished for a miscommunication at the back. With Mason Frizelle and Fryatt thinking the other was going to handle the situation, Beaumont decided for them by poking the ball into the back of the net.

Finding themselves 3-0 down after just 19 minutes, Rovers attempted to re-group, but despite their best efforts, the Bears would break through once again just after the half-hour mark.

After picking up the ball in the left-hand side of the box, Bott took the ball down before arrowing his shot into the bottom right corner.

Gresley did, however, have an opportunity to pull one back before half-time when David Kolodynski was brilliantly denied by Elliott Fenton on the goal-line, with the striker blocking his shot for a corner when a goal looked certain.

In the second half, Carl Abbott and Gary Norton made their message clear as they brought Jack Cresswell on when play resumed. The midfielder proved to have a massive difference with Rovers dominating the first ten minutes.

In the 63rd minute Rovers would find themselves to be extremely unfortunate again when they had another attempt cleared off the line. This time, Joshua Ryder was well placed to deny Louis Briscoe with a brilliant clearance on the goal-line.

Junior Smikle also saw his header from a corner kick whistle just over the crossbar, but in truth a remarkable comeback never looked on the cards.

It would in fact be Congleton who snatched the next goal. After seeing a wonder volley from Bott miss the target by mere inches, substitute Buckley went one better as he found the bottom corner of Fryatt’s net from 25 yards.

Despite a much-improved second half performance, Rovers could not find a consolation goal, and ultimately bowed out of the FA Vase at the first round stage in a convincing defeat to their high-flying opponents.

*Cover photo by Mick Haynes