GRANTHAM Town thought they had done enough to win the FA Cup clash with Loughborough at the first attempt. After twice taking the lead, an equaliser late in injury time at the end of the game brought the two sides back to The Meres for a replay on Tuesday night.
First Round Qualifying
Loughborough Dynamo 2
Grantham Town 2
The Gingerbreads got off to the best possible start. With only four minutes on the clock, Karl Demidh won a corner. Lee Potts delivered the ball to the near post where Grant Brindley rose to head home his second goal in two games.
Loughborough forced a couple of early corners but did not create anything threatening from either, while Grantham looked dangerous going forward. Jamie McGhee ran at the Loughborough defence after 15 minutes and slipped a pass through for Demidh. His left foot shot went just wide of the target.
Seven minutes later, Loughborough were opened up again. McGhee and Sam Purcicoe worked the ball well and Purcicoe wrong-footed the Loughborough defence with a deep cross to Lee Potts. Potts drilled in a low cross that was cleared by the home defence.
Midway through the first half, Michael Jacklin and Potts broke quickly down the Grantham left. Potts returned the ball to Jacklin who found Demidh with his cross. Demidh’s shot was well saved by Laurie Pearson in the Loughborough goal.
Eight minutes from half time, Pearson denied Grantham again. A clearance from Brindley was held up by Demidh before he played in Connor Higginson. Higginson curled a shot towards the top corner of the net, but Pearson turned it away. A minute later, the Loughborough goalkeeper kept his side in the game again. This time Purcicoe won a header for Potts. His shot was turned over the crossbar by Pearson.
The missed chances came back to haunt Grantham straight after the break. Rob Norris and Matt Langham exchanged passes to send Norris racing into the Grantham penalty area. A well-struck shot gave Jimmy Lindley no chance as it flew across him into the corner of the net.
The Gingerbreads had a chance to immediately get their noses in front but desperate defending from the home side denied them again. McGhee’s initial shot was blocked and then Pearson saved the follow-up from Demidh.
With the half only three minutes old, it was Loughborough’s turn to miss a chance to take the lead. Shawn Richards picked out Langham with his cross but the striker lifted his shot over the crossbar.
Grantham had another scare before they went back in front. A low cross from Richards was only cleared by Phil Watt at full stretch. A minute later, McGhee had restored Grantham’s lead. Ben Saunders won the first ball for Demidh. He delivered a deep cross for Potts who laid a perfect pass for McGhee to curl the ball into the corner of the net.
It looked as though Grantham were going to seal the win as McGhee and Ben Saunders went close. McGhee tried to lob the ball over Pearson but was just wide, while Saunders hit a first time shot past the post.
Karl Noble had two efforts blocked late in the game as the home side pushed forward, searching for a second equaliser. And it came deep into injury time. For the first time in the game, Grantham failed to clear their lines effectively. The ball fell to Langham just outside the penalty area. His shot seemed to take an awkward bounce and go over the diving Lindley to level the scores.
Grantham Town: Lindley, Purcicoe, Potts, Brindley, Jacklin, Watt, Nwadike, Ball, Demidh (Battersby, 79), Higginson (B. Saunders, 59), McGhee (Magee, 90). Sub not used: Lewis, Carchedi, Robinson, Martin. Att: 175.