GRANTHAM Town go into tomorrow’s FA Cup second round qualifier at Cambridge City on the back of a seven game unbeaten run – and joint manager Jimmy Albans said confidence in the side was “very good”.
The Gingerbreads took a point from their visit to high-flying Ashton United on Saturday and drew 3-3 against Matlock Town in a battling thriller at The Meres on Tuesday night in a game they could easily have won.
The Gingerbreads went a goal down in the 19th minute but levelled through Emeka Nwadike seven minutes before half time, a worthy goal after many first half chances.
However, Grantham then conceded a penalty a minute later when Lee Potts was unlucky to be penalised for an accidental hand ball. Lewis McMahon fired in the spot kick to double his tally and give Matlock a 2-1 half time advantage.
The Gingerbreads once more had chances aplenty to score in the second half and finally got their reward in the 72nd minute when skipper for the night Phil Watt stabbed home from close range to level the scores again.
Grantham supporters were brought to their feet two minutes later when Conor Higginson gave the Gingerbreads the lead. Higginson teed up an ambitious long-range effort. Matlock keeper Jon Kennedy managed to get a touch on the ball, but only to help it on its way into the back of the net, signalling touchline celebrations in front of the 234 spectators from Higginson and his ecstatic team-mates.
However, Grantham’s lead was short-lived. Five minutes later, Matlock substitute Lee Ellington made no mistake when he got on the end of Phil Roe’s cross to make it three-all.
The Gingerbreads ran their hearts out to find a winner in the final 10 minutes, but it was not to be.
Albans said he thought the Gingerbreads should have got more from the game than a single point.
He said: “It hurts the players in the dressing room when we are drawing games they are sure we could have won. The atmosphere when we got back in there after the game on Tuesday was like a morgue. Anyone would have thought we had lost.
“We all feel there is more to come and that we are not on the top of our game yet. We are getting better and better slowly and surely.
“We are still on a learning curve in this division. Where we have got used to being more than strong enough to put games to bed, we have to respect that teams we are playing are still going to be as strong as we are, which wasn’t the case last season.”
Looking to tomorrow’s FA Cup clash, Albans said he and joint boss Wayne Hallcro had an observer at Cambridge’s midweek match in which they sneaked victory with two late goals at Kettering Town.
Albans said he would let Cambridge worry about the Gingerbreads and did not want to bring the Southern Premier League side back to The Meres on Tuesday night.
He said: “We are setting out to go to Cambridge with one thing in mind – to get a positive result. The FA Cup gets everybody up wanting to do well; it takes a bit of the pressure off the week in, week out, nature of the league.”
Albans said that Ben Saunders will be unavailable again but brother Sam should be OK. Michael Jacklin is a possibility and Paul Grimes may also be ready to make his return to the squad from injury.