Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 2
Grantham came back from conceding an early goal to record their first league points away from home at their local rivals on Bank Holiday Monday.
It took some strong second half defending, a penalty save from Dan Haystead and a slice of good fortune to get the better of a determined Stamford side in a full blooded local derby watched by 432 people.
It only took five minutes for the opening goal to come. Grantham stopped, claiming a handball and Jordan Smith took advantage, racing past Emeka Nwadike, only to be stopped by a good challenge from Sam Purcicoe. From the resulting corner, Richard Jones got up highest to head home.
It could have been a worse start for Grantham three minutes later when Jordan Smith again had too much pace for the Grantham defence, but this time, his shot hit the post. A mistake at the other end by Stamford goalkeeper Alex Lynch almost gifted Grantham an equaliser. He fumbled a misjudged free kick, but was fortunate to watch the ball roll wide of the goal.
Lee Ridley got involved going forward as Grantham looked the more dangerous side as the first half wore on. He hit two shots which kept the home defence on their toes and claimed a penalty midway through the first half. His surging run was halted on the edge of the Stamford penalty area with Ridley claiming it was inside the box. Gary King hit the free kick past the wall, but it lacked the power to beat Lynch.
A rare chance for Stamford was wasted when Jordan Smith and Ryan Robbins used their pace to get beyond the Grantham back line. Robbins took the shot, but hit it over the crossbar. It was back to the Gingerbreads pressure as Paolo Pilliero and Ridley combined to cross for King. A fingertip save from Lynch denied him and Gregg Smith was forced to shoot just wide from the rebound.
Pressure from the Gingerbreads brought the equaliser on 38 minutes. A sequence of corners was rounded off with a goal when Adie Hawes got up well to power in a header which was judged by the referees’ assistant to have crossed the line despite the best efforts of two Stamford defenders.
Almost immediately, Stamford went close to regaining the lead. A corner at the other end saw the Daniels rattle the woodwork again before Jones shot over the top. That came back to haunt Stamford two minutes after the break. The home defence hesitated when confrotned by a Grantham free kick. Nwadike nodded the ball on and Pilliero stole in to turn it home.
A forced change gave Stamford the chance to pull level after 54 minutes. Hawes had been struggling since a hefty tackle early on and finally had to be replaced. Nwadike went into the heart of the defence and was turned twice quickly by Robbins, bringing the striker down the second time. Jordan Smith saw his penalty well saved to his left by Haystead.
Solid defending was needed by Grantham as Stamford pressed for an equaliser. Haystead was well positioned to take efforts from Jones and Jordan Smith. At the other end, Gregg Smith almost picked his way through the Stamford defence, beating three challenges in a mazy run before being stopped inside the penalty area.
Andy Burgess was only beaten by the woodwork on 71 minutes. His fine strike flew past Haystead, but, fortunately for Grantham, struck the crossbar and came back out again. Jordan Smith and Robbins almost broke through the Grantham defence again late on, but the Gingerbreads held firm. Grantham had some chances on the break to have wrapped up the game - Michael Towey drew a top drawer save from Lynch, the Stamford goalkeeper stretching to get to an effort which was aiming for the top corner.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe, Ridley, Meikle, Hawes (Watson 49), Keane, Towey, Nwadike, G Smith, King (Graham 58), Pilliero. Subs not used: Robinson, K Smih, Turner.