Radcliffe Olympic were the latest visitors to Plains Road on Saturday afternoon hopefully looking for any bright spark in their season as they sit firmly at the foot of the table having only won one game all season – a 1-0 away win against Ashby Ivanhoe back in October.
Gedling hosted their opponents on the back of a 2-1 win at West Bridgford last time out and, after a cancellation due to the adverse weather in the week, they continue to push an FA Cup place come the end of the season despite some inconsistent results as of late.
They settled well into this one early on and got off to the best start after the second minute when, after a deep Ross McCaughey cross was retrieved and kept alive by Joe Meakin, Jay Knight nodded down to an unmarked Liam Corrigan who tapped home into the unguarded net. A minute later and Jack Jepson may have doubled the scoreline but his effort was straight at Nick Eatough as Radcliffe expected another long 90 minutes ahead.
The opening exchanges belonged to Gedling and they were by far the superior team as expected. However, to their credit, Radcliffe were in no mood to lie down and die as they began to venture forward seeking the equaliser. Raheem Sunmonu tried his luck from 20 yards but his goal bound effort struck his own man after good wing play previously by Rares Demeter. 10 minutes later and he came even closer to the leveller but his fired effort across a crowded area evaded everyone, much to his exuberance.
At this stage, the visitors were back in the affair with both sides having their fair share of possession but to little avail in front of goal. Just before the 20th minute, Knight’s unlucky scooped effort rebounded back off the crossbar as it was sensed that Gedling were becoming more nervous about the precarious scoreline against, respectfully, very beatable opposition. At this stage, the game became scrappy in difficult conditions. Both teams were culpable of rushing their football and lacked any real quality when in possession. Shortly before half time, Connor Croft curled a shot on goal but, after a good pull back from McCaughey, his effort curled just over.
The second half began in a similar fashion to the rest of the game – with Gedling in complete dominance but becoming visibly frustrated by their resilient opponents. Just prior to the hour, a fine cross from substitute Jimmy Spiers was met by Adam Morley but his improvised diving header curled over. 3 minutes later and Jepson, looking to add to his personal tally for the season, had a powerful strike tipped over by Eatough after good intricate play by Meakin.
Gedling continued to dominate and pressure Radcliffe looking for that all important second goal that would settle all nerves, and with their opposition hunched almost as far back as their own 18-yard area, it was evident that it would be a matter of when and not if. Meakin, Morley, and Jepson all had chances to finish the game off in a 3 minute spell of bombardment on the Radcliffe goal, but all were cleared last ditch by the ever-so-committed defensive unit of the away team.
As the half wore on toward its conclusion, Gedling, despite their complete control of the game, might have worried that Radcliffe, who posed nothing all game, were still in the game. Dwayne Brown really should have settled all doubts on the 80th minute, but his header at the back stick when unmarked sailed over the bar. However, only 2 minutes later and the game was won. After anticipating a long punt from Danny Brown in the home goal, Jepson latched on to the loose ball and slotted the ball under the onrushing Eatough much to the delight and relief of the men in yellow.
2 minutes later and Gedling really did seal the affair and added that extra gloss probably deserved on the back of their supremacy all game. This time, from a fine looping cross from the left by Aboubacar Sylla, Dwayne Brown no mistake this time in finding the back of the net as he powered his header past the scrambling Eatough for his side’s third.
A fine team performance from the home side in a game that is always a potential banana skin when welcoming a team rooted to the foot of the standings and Gedling now enter a period where 7 of their next 8 games are at home which could be a determining factor come May. They start off by welcoming Holbrook Sports to Plains Road next Saturday (17th February) hoping to make it three wins from three, 3pm kick off.
Man of the Match –Joe Meakin