Gresley Rovers maintained their 100% home record with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over Eastwood CFC on Tuesday night.
Two goals from Gresley’s frontman, Steve Hart and a first goal of the season for Kane Lee saw Rovers claim a vital three points in their bid to challenge for promotion.
A slow start to the second half saw Eastwood equalise after Hart had given the hosts a first-half lead. However, Rovers overcame that adversity to score two quickfire goals and move to within three points of the early pace-setters, Long Eaton United.
Rovers started the game positively and could have been ahead after just five minutes. After Alby Lansdowne’s effort had been blocked, the ball fell to Hart just yards from the goal-line, but the striker was somehow denied by Mark Rathbone.
Eastwood were holding firm, however, and were threatening themselves as they littered the Gresley box with set pieces.
Yet in the 19th minute, Gresley could once again have gone ahead. Harrison did superbly well to pick out Hart at the back post, but his squared ball to Munday was just behind his fellow forward - the ball bouncing away to safety.
With Rovers not taking their chances, the visitors looked to punish them. Blair Anderson’s cross from the right nearly caught out Fenney, and McKenzie Parton could only strike straight at the goalkeeper when well placed in the box.
In the 42nd minute, however, Gresley would break the deadlock. A long ball forward from George Clark was latched onto by Hart, and the striker raced away from the Eastwood defence and towards goal.
After his marker got back to present the striker with an obstacle, Hart chopped inside before rounding the ‘keeper and expertly finding the bottom corner.
Eastwood responded almost immediately when George Clark’s poor headed back-pass was pounced on by Moussa Cisse. The newly-signed Eastwood striker couldn’t find a way past Fenney though, maintaining Gresley’s lead into half-time.
Following the break, the visitors came out determined to turn the game around and they levelled the scoring just seven minutes into the second half.
Blair Anderson showed great control to touch down a long ball before finding his way to the edge of the box. Chopping inside Clark, Anderson took the shot on and after Fenney could only parry his attempt, Parton finished off the follow-up.
Gresley seemed rattled by the leveller and Eastwood looked to take advantage, but they couldn’t fashion out a clear cut opportunity.
As the half wore on, Rovers started to find their feet again, and in the 73rd minute they would go ahead for a second time. After a corner had initially been cleared, Hart recycled the ball back into the box. His cross was punched away by Rathbone, but only as far as Lee who stabbed home.
Just five minutes later, Gresley would extend their lead as they took firm control of the game. Lansdowne showed vision from midfield as he stroked the ball through the middle of the Eastwood defence to Hart. Full of confidence, the striker stroked the ball past the ‘keeper to all but seal the three points for Rovers.
A late sin-bin of goalscorer, Parton did not aid Eastwood’s task as they looked to get back into the game, and the visitors couldn’t find the quality to pressure the Gresley back-line late on.
With three consecutive league victories under their belt, Rovers will travel to Melton Town on Saturday in the hopes they can make it four.
MOTM: Steve Hart