Lent Term 1 football review

The new term resulted in a new squad for the football team, as some pupils joined the group from other sports, whilst some left to play hockey this term. There was an air of excitement as the term started though, with a move to the new field for both first and second teams and over 40 boys choosing to play football as their games options. Even more exciting was the establishment this term of our girls team, with 22 girls choosing football as an option, training under the expert eye of Ms Nche and a team of coaches from Norwich City CSF.

Bad weather left little time to prepare for the first fixture of the year, which was a friendly match between a Gresham’s OG XI and the first team. The OG side was made up of former students who had left in the last two years and it was an excellent occasion with the firsts winning out 6-2.

This set us up nicely for the first competitive match of the season against The Leys. Again, the weather played a part making conditions tricky for both sides and The Leys were awarded a penalty 10 minutes into the first half, which was excellently saved by Jakub N. Mid way through the half, Lucas T finished off an excellent move to put Gresham’s in front, but The Leys pulled back just before half time. Shortly after, the lead was restored by Albert W and we led 2-1 at the break. A close second half followed, with both sides having chances but Gresham’s ended up winning 4-1, with further goals from Ru M and Felix D-M.

Following a weather postponement against Culford, a home game for the firsts against a very strong St Felix school side followed. This was a competitive game with St Felix taking the lead in the first half and doubling it shortly after the half time break. A tweak in tactics followed and Gresham’s came into the match more, with Jude P scoring to reduce the deficit and Albert W equalising midway into the second period. Each side had chances, but an excellent move was finished by Jude P for his second of the game to give Gresham’s the lead. A dogged defensive display followed, with Gresham’s holding on at the end but the final whistle blew and the side had shown great resilience to win 3-2, especially having been 2-0 down.

The following weekend saw both Gresham’s first and second team in action, as Wymondham College visited with two very competitive teams.

The first team played a determined game, packing the midfield and stifling any creativity from the opposition. Both sides had chances but the half time score was 0-0. In the second half, Gresham’s shocked Wymondham to take the lead, with an excellent delivery from George B headed in at close range by Ru M. This really motivated the side and we pressed for another goal, which arrived mid-way through the second half. Jude P was fouled several yards outside the penalty area, and whilst the defence and goalkeeper expected a cross into the box from the free kick, George B scored a quite magnificent goal directly from a shot that would not have looked out of place on match of the day! Leading 2-0, Gresham’s had to withstand a lot of late pressure and Wymondham pulled one back to make it a nervous last 15 minutes, but we held on for an excellent 2-1 win.

The second team had a hard match against a Wymondham College seconds on the same Saturday afternoon. Wymondham dominated the first half eventually breaking the deadlock with a harsh penalty award. Two minutes later another penalty and Gresham’s went down 2-0. Gresham’s were under pressure and continued to leak goals. However, a fight back in the second half saw a very well taken goal by Ben R and a rocket header by Emerson G to finish with a scoreline of 7-2 to Wymondham. A good performance for the team bearing in mind the first time they have played together and player of the Match was Milan H for a string of superb saves.

The final round of fixtures of the half term saw three Gresham’s football teams playing at the same time (for the first time in recent history) with a block fixture at home against Langley.

The first team found themselves 1-0 down after just 2 minutes, when Langley scored from a corner after confusion in the penalty area. Gresham’s were sluggish for 10 minutes against a confident and composed Langley side, but quickly played their way back into the match and after 30 minutes were rewarded for their efforts, as Jude P latched onto a through ball to shrug off the defender and score. Just before half time, Lucas T found space on the right hand side to score with a delightful chipped shot. Gresham’s led 2-1 at half time and controlled the midfield, being first to every loose ball and attacking in numbers when winning back possession and mid-way into the half scored again, with Jude P getting his second goal of the game. Langley scored with 10 minutes to go to reduce the deficit to 3-2 but Gresham’s held on for a superb win.

The second team had a more difficult afternoon with their second fixture of the term against a strong Langley team. The boys did well to match their opponents until half time and were very much in the game until early in the second half. Ben R scored again as did Boaz v d M. The team tired in the second half and with some errors creeping in lost 6-2 in a competitive game.

This fixture also saw the debut of the Gresham’s girls football team and there was much excitement as the day arrived. Wearing their new first team kits, the girls (playing competitively for the first time) did an excellent job against a more experienced Langley side and took the lead, when Maya P had a shot which was unfortunately deflected into the Langley net by one of their own defenders. Langley’s experience showed and they soon were winning 3-1, however Gresham’s pulled one back before half time with a composed finish by Daisy W. The second half resumed with Langley in the ascendancy and they raced into a 5-2 lead, however the Gresham’s girls kept battling, creating several chances and playing some good football, which was rewarded with a goal just before the full time whistle. A penalty was given, which Jaz C put away for the final score of 6-3 to Langley. This was a fantastic debut and a positive display, with strong performances all round but Michelle W was named player of the match for her amazing energy and commitment throughout the entire game. The girls can now look forward to fixtures against Oundle and Uppingham (away) and Norwich School (home and away) in what will be a busy Lent 2 half term.

This was a positive start to the half term. The first team are unbeaten since early November and have now won 8 matches in a row (a total of 11 wins out of 15 since September) scoring 53 goals in the process! The second team have had some competitive games and the girls side has made their competitive debut. The final half term looks to be an exciting one for all three teams and football at Gresham’s is looking in a strong position for the future ahead.