• Alfie Burley

Rovers lose late on as Newark maintain perfect start

A late header from Nathan Stainfield maintained Newark’s perfect start to the season, as Rovers suffered their first away defeat of the campaign.

The experienced Craig Westcarr had given the home side the lead early on after pouncing on a defensive mistake, but as Newark tired in the second period, Rovers came alive.

A brilliantly taken goal from Paul Sullivan levelled proceedings, however a powerful header at the back post, against the run of play, from Stanfield, sealed all three points for Newark.

Gresley actually started the game positively, with Kyle Batchelor scuffing his first attempt before shooting over from the edge of the box following a neat passing move.

Yet, Newark would only need nine minutes to take the lead. After catching Lucas Harrison in possession in Gresley’s box, Ben Hutchinson slid the ball across to an unmarked Westcarr, who had the simple task of tapping into an empty net.

Paul Sullivan netted Gresley's goal. Photo: Gresley Rovers

With an early error gifting the initiative to Newark, the home side did the majority of the pressing. The exciting Kevin Bastos was a spark on the right-hand side, whilst Daniel Meadows’ graft earned him a couple of openings.

However, the Highwaymen weren’t creating all too many opportunities to press home the advantage. In fact, Gresley could have equalised had Danny Munday connected with the ball better from a good position but his scuffed shot ultimately rolled into the hands of Jason White.

Although, Rovers were nearly dealt a hammer-blow just before the break when Liam King’s goal-bound shot was deflected over the crossbar in the 44th minute.

Following the break, Rovers presented more of a threat, and White was forced into action early to tip a curling shot from Sullivan over the bar. Substitute David Kolodynski also brought some much-needed spark as his attempted volley was straight at the ‘keeper.

This upping of intensity from the away side, however, only served to motivate Newark more, and the Highwaymen were unlucky not to double their lead as they peppered the Rovers goal.

Westcarr thought he’d doubled his tally, only to be denied by a great sliding block from Junior Smikle, and from the resulting corner, Bastos’ header was cleared off the line by the covering Louis Briscoe.

Despite being relatively untested throughout the game, when he was needed, Joe Fryatt was also on hand to keep the scoreline at 1-0. Westcarr’s initial effort forced the goalkeeper into a brilliant reflex save before Bastos’ attempt from the right-hand side of the box was blocked by Fryatt.

With these chances going begging, Rovers punished the home side’s lack of conviction in front of goal with an equaliser in the 74th minute. A fantastic cross from Lee Butler was straight to Sullivan, who took it past a defender before brilliantly chipping the approaching Newark goalkeeper.

With the momentum now firmly with Rovers, the away side should have taken the lead just a minute later when Munday was completely unmarked in the centre of the box, but headed agonisingly wide with the goal at his mercy, and just as Rovers punished Newark for wasteful finishing, Newark would do the same to the visitors.

After conceding a free kick on the right-hand side, there was a sense of inevitability as the free-kick was swung in, straight onto the head of captain Stainfield who headed past Fryatt at the far post.

The goal seemed to take the wind out of Gresley’s sails and despite their best efforts to push forward and find another equaliser, it wasn’t to be, and Newark maintained their perfect start with a fourth straight victory.

By Alfie Burley