Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 3
Grantham and Marine served up an entertaining 90 minutes which could have seen more goals than the six which were shared.
The game was open from the word go. Marine pushed hard down the Grantham right and Will Jones beat Adie Hawes, but put his pass too far in front of the rest of his forward line. A few minutes later, Michael Towey had Marine goalkeeper Ryan McMahon beating away a 30-yard free kick. Andy Fowler made a good run across the Grantham defence, only to fire wide before Grantham took the lead.
With only seven minutes gone, Grantham got their noses in front. Ash Burbeary delivered a good free kick into the Marine penalty area. Adie Hawes rose highest and nodded the ball over the reach of McMahon and into the empty net.
Play immediately swung to the other end and Marine almost equalised straight away. This time, it was Joe Fowler who got away from the Grantham defence on the right and crossed for Ian Latham. Latham was unmarked, but from a great position put his shot wide of the post. Andy Fowler got away from Paul Lister to close in on goal but, again, could not hit the target with just Dan Haystead to beat.
Massiah McDonald made a perfect chance for Grantham to extend their lead after 18 minutes. McDonald beat full back Connor Roberts-Nurse and went down in the penalty area under Roberts-Nurse’s challenge. McDonald took the spot kick himself but did not it enough power to beat McMahon who went low to his left to save.
Another free kick from Burbeary was beaten away by McMahon before Marine got back into the game. Paul Woolcott had tried to get Jamie Morton in, but good defending from Deon Meikle denied him a chance. Ten minutes from half time, Marine equalised. Roberts-Nurse delivered a deep cross from the Grantham left and, at the far post, an unmarked Joe Fowler turned the ball into the net.
The Gingerbreads bounced straight back. Michael Towey ran through three challenges before hitting a shot that McMahon did well to save to his right. Greg Smith put McDonald in just before half time. His shot beat McMahon but went a yard wide of the post.
Haystead was in the right place twice early in the second half to comfortably gather a couple of shots from Marine, but was caught out on 53 minutes. Marine played the ball around patiently in midfield on the Grantham right. A cross into the near post tempted Haystead to come for it, but Jones got up higher to head the home side in front.
Two minutes later, the home side almost extended their lead. A drive by Latham left Haystead watching as it flew past him and crashed against the crossbar and bounced clear.
Marine were lucky to keep 11 men on the pitch after a dangerous challenge from Andy Fowler. His two footed lunge at Towey only brought a yellow card from referee Mr Gibbons.
Two goals in two minutes from Greg Smith put Grantham back in front. After 63 minutes, he was in the right place when Hawes’s header from a Kallum Smith corner came back off the crossbar. Smith nodded the loose ball over the line. He was at the far post two minutes later when McMahon missed a near-post cross, leaving Smith an empty net in which to score.
The Gingerbreads’ lead lasted 10 minutes this time. Grantham had just defended a run from Roberts-Nurse that took him past Lee Ridley and Kallum Smith. The ball was put back into the penalty area by Josh Sumner and Joe Fowler got across in front of a static Grantham defence and saw his header hit the post and bounce into the net.
Both sides had late chances to win the game. Burbeary went on a run across the face of the Marine defence, beating John Shaw before rolling his shot past McMahon and just wide. Burbeary then delivered a pinpoint free kick for Greg Smith. He could not get over his free header and the ball sailed over the crossbar.
At the other end, Marine had two chances to shoot at an empty goal after Haystead chased a through-ball right out to the touchline, but did not clear properly. Some solid defending by Grantham denied either chance and preserved the point.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Lister, Ridley, Meikle, Hawes, Towey, Burbeary, Nwadike (Lewis, 84), G. Smith, McDonald (McGhee, 81), K. Smith. Subs not used: King, Purcicoe, Graham. Att: 272.
+ The Gingerbreads are back at home on Saturday when they take on old rivals Ilkeston at The Meres. Kick-off 3pm.