Northern Premier League
Blyth Spartans 2
Grantham Town 1
Grantham had chances to win the game at Blyth after taking a first half lead. Second half pressure from the home side was turned into goals and Town lost a game out of which they should have got something.
Strong defending from the Gingerbreads set up the first early chance. Deon Meikle’s clearance was knocked on for Romaine Graham. Graham’s shot beat goalkeeper Conor Grant but rolled wide of the post.
Blyth looked dangerous themselves and chances came and went. Craig Hubbard hit a shot over the bar before a cross from the same player flew across the Grantham six-yard line begging to be turned in with no Blyth player close enough to do so.
The two sides continued to exchange chances in an open first half. Robert Dale turned sharply to release Joe Kendrick who crossed for Hubbard. His effort again flew over the top of the Grantham goal. At the other end, Nathan Watson flighted a free kick into the penalty area, but Michael Towey’s header lacked the power to beat Grant. Watson had a chance himself after good work involving Lee Ridley and Greg Smith. A desperate block from Danny Parker denied Watson.
The Gingerbreads took the lead on 29 minutes. Emeka Nwadike played a ball forward and Greg Smith put pressure on Nathan Buddle. Buddle made a hash of his clearance, looping the ball up and over Grant. The Blyth goalkeeper got a hand to the ball but could not keep it out of his net.
Daniel Maguire brought the first save from Dan Haystead 10 minutes before the break. He beat Paul Lister to a long ball from defence, but could not beat Haystead. Dale then lifted a free kick over the Grantham wall but past the top corner of the goal.
Greg Smith finished the half with two chances as Grantham opened up the Blyth defence again. First Watson picked him out with a good pass, but his shot lacked power. Then a minute before the break, brave goalkeeping from Grant denied him once more.
The opening minutes of the second half saw Grantham create more chances. Sam Purcicoe’s cross into the penalty area was begging to be attached by Watson, but the chance went begging. Watson then battled hard to win the ball back, but saw his shot blocked by the home defence. Grant also saved well from Greg Smith as Grantham looked for a second goal. Towey also had a shot blocked as Blyth resisted the Gingerbreads pressure.
The home side got their equaliser on 66 minutes. Lee Ridley was eased off the ball by Hubbard who fed Maguire. He drove a fine shot past Haystead into the top corner of the net. The home side had their tails up and kept pressure on the Gingerbreads defence. Nwadike and Meikle both had to stop Blyth attacks as Maguire, Hubbard and Dale in particular began to cause problems for Grantham.
It seemed as though the Gingerbreads would hold out with some desperate defending. Haystead denied Kendrick with his foot and a poor shot from Dale were as close as Blyth went, despite keeping Grantham pinned back. They also had to be alert at the back as King got the better of Danny Parker and set up Nwadike. Only a good block by Buddle denied the Gingerbreads skipper.
Five minutes from time, Blyth got the decisive goal. Dale knocked a good ball on for Maguire who took on Haystead. The Grantham goalkeeper brought the Blyth player down, giving Dale the chance to score from the penalty spot. To the delight of the home crowd, he drove his penalty hard past Haystead.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe (Keane, 51), Ridley, Meikle, Lister, Nwadike, Watson, Towey, G. Smith (King, 67), Graham, Pilliero (Lewis, 60). Subs not used: K. Smith, Turner.
+ Grantham will be in action again at The Meres on Tuesday night when they take on Stocksbridge Park Steels who lost 5-1 at home to Nantwich Town on Saturday.
Kick-off on Tuesday is 7.45pm.