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Match Report  |  Heather St Johns vs Gresley Rovers

Heather St Johns  1
Spruce (pen) 87
Gresley Rovers  2
Hart 15  |  Seal 27

United Counties Premier Division North

St Johns Park, Heather

Monday, 3rd January 2022, 3.00pm

Rovers Do The Double

Alfie Burley

Gresley Rovers gained ground in the title race as they defeated fellow promotion hopefuls, Heather St John’s 2-1 at St John’s Park.

With Long Eaton United’s game against Eastwood CFC being called off, Rovers took the opportunity to close the gap at the top to nine points thanks to strikes from Steve Hart and Ryan Seal.

A late penalty from James Spruce had made the Moatmen sweat after enjoying a relatively comfortable afternoon up to that point, but they held out to seal a vital three points.

A three week lay-off due to a combination of the weather and an increase in COVID-19 cases, meant Rovers came into this game determined to build off an outstanding 4-1 win at Leicester Nirvana in early December.

Heather, meanwhile, had also endured a break, their last game resulting in a 1-0 win away at Deeping Rangers.

It was Rovers, however, who made the quicker start. In the opening minute Hart could’ve opened the scoring but was unable to sort his feet out to meet George Clark’s cross to the back post.

Debutant, Josh Craddock also had an early header saved, but Gresley would eventually take advantage of their early dominance with a 15th minute opener.

Stepping in to win possession, Seal chipped a pass straight into the feet of Hart who lurked on the edge of the Heather area. After twisting and turning to find space, the prolific striker eventually found the yard he needed to send a low drive into the bottom right corner.

The goal only served as even more motivation for Rovers, especially as they had been the one on the back-foot early on in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

This time, it was Heather who were stunned by Rovers’ fluidity, and the Moatmen doubled their lead in the 27th minute. Michael Williams’ through ball down the right channel to Danny Munday started the move off, and despite Munday’s initial effort being parried away at the near post, Seal was on hand to apply a simple finish.

Despite holding a two-goal lead, Rovers should’ve been even further ahead by the break. A bizarre sequence of play saw Munday’s shot cannon off the upright, only for Corey Bucalossi to see his shot agonisingly cleared off the line by the covering Heather defender.

Hart also thought he had strengthened Gresley’s grip, only for the linesman to adjudge that his close-range header hadn’t crossed the goal-line before Aiden Jeynes’ intervention.

Nevertheless, Rovers still held a comfortable lead at half-time, but the second half didn’t feature the same verve of the first. Whilst Gresley seemed content to hold Heather off, the home side’s attractive style of play was ultimately not resulting in any chances.

Rovers’ only real opportunity to kill the game off came when Hart chested down a cross from Billy Howard but could only direct a fierce volley over the crossbar.

It seemed as if Gresley were going to coast to back-to-back away victories, until, with just three minutes remaining, Heather clawed themselves back into the contest.

A stray leg in the box from Clark upended Spruce, and the referee had little hesitation in pointing for a penalty kick. Spruce stepped up and sent Lewis Fenney the wrong way to roar life into the Saints.

Suddenly the home side found a new gear, launching deliveries into the Rovers box, and forcing Gresley into some desperate defending to preserve their lead.

Deep into stoppage time, Fenney had to be on hand to push away a free-kick that almost sneaked into his far corner, but ultimately it was too little too late for the home side, and Gresley claimed a deserved victory.

Match Stats
Shots on Target 8 2
Shots off Target 4 3
Corners 2 3
Fouls Conceded 12 6
Yellow Cards 0 0
Red Cards 0 0
Possession (%) 60 40
Streaming Interview
Heather St Johns
1 Aiden Jeynes
2 Sam Walton
3 Aaron Dickens
4 Yahiya Todd (c)
5 Joe McNulty
6 John Mills
7 Dan Hanson
8 Cameron Collins
9 Joe O'Neil
10 James Spruce
11 Will Mansfield
12 Chris Hayden
for 5 - 23 mins
14 Jake McLeary
for 9 - 70 mins
15 Mitchell Woakes
for 12 - 55 mins
16 Harvey Pritchard
not used
17 Sam Kinson (GK)
not used
Gresley Rovers
1 Lewis Fenney
2 George Clark
22 Alex Morris
4 Michael Williams
17 Mason Frizelle
6 Josh Craddock
21 Danny Munday
8 Ryan Seal (c)
13 Steve Hart
10 Izak Reid
11 Corey Bucalossi
4 Albert Lansdowne
not used
8 Connor Ward
not used
9 Kane Lee
for 6 - 56 mins
18 Billy Howard
for 8 - 73 mins
19 James Harrison
for 21 - 73 mins
Other Match Info

Referee: Aidan Murphy

Attendance: 241

Star Player
George Clark

George Clark

His runs down the left caused Heather problems throughout the game