Grantham Town cling on for replay in FA Trophy opener

Kallum Smith celebrates exuberantly after scoring Grantham's opening goal against Soham at The Meres on Saturday.
Kallum Smith celebrates exuberantly after scoring Grantham's opening goal against Soham at The Meres on Saturday.
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FA Trophy

First round qualifying

Grantham Town 2

Soham Town Rangers 2

Grantham Town clung on to a chance of progressing further in the FA Trophy in a generally lacklustre performance.

The Gingerbreads had an early let-off in the fourth minute when Buster Harradine’s free kick was deflected on to the post. Slack defending almost cost Grantham again in the seventh minute but keeper Dan Haystead saved Luke Stanley’s sitter.

But it was the Gingerbreads who took the lead in the 13th minute when Kallum Smith fired in a cracker.

The home side had a chance to extend the advantage in the 21st minute when Kallum Smith put a dangerous header into the danger area, but Greg Smith was unable to get the touch needed.

Grantham continued to sniff around the Soham goal and Jamie McGhee’s 25th minute cross-cum-shot was not far off, forcing a diving save from keeper Leigh Follen to deny substitute Massiah McDonald who was lurking at the far post.

The visitors had a couple of speculative shots on the Grantham goal and a dangerous 30th minute cross forced Haystead into a full stretch dive to catch the ball.

Grantham’s defensive awareness was questionable at times and the visitors equalised a minute later when Connor Wood picked his spot from the corner of the box and planted the ball in at the far post.

Soham continued to give a good account of themselves and had the last chance of the first half, with Connor Wood’s cross-cum-shot bringing another good save from Haystead, with Stanley looming large at the far post.

Neither side looked likely to score in an end-to-end begining to the second period, with the visitors displaying the better passing game but – fortunately for Grantham – with little end result.

Rangers ran rings around the home side at times and threatened the Grantham goal on 62 minutes, but Deon Meikle headed Harradine’s corner kick from danger.

The visitors almost inevitably went in front a minute later when Harradine got on the end of a poor clearance and nutmegged Haystead to the delight of the travelling few.

Paul Lister managed to foil Stanley’s run down the right at the death to avoid further embarrassment for the Gingerbreads in the 64th minute

At the other end, McGhee made a couple of incisive runs but, despite displaying some fancy footwork, the resulting shots both went off target. McGhee then put in a good free kick on 72 minutes to which Lister got his head, but Follen was equal to his effort.

McGhee’s good spell continued with a rocket shot from a McDonald cross but, again, Follen saved well.

Grantham continued to up the gas and finally equalised in the 76th minute. Greg Smith’s initial header was repelled by Follen but the ball went straight back to the Gingerbreads number nine and this time he beat the Soham keeper.

Rangers were not finished and 81st minute substitute Ben Sawyer went close to putting his side back in front with virtually his first kick.

Haystead pulled off a good catch to pluck a scorching Harradine cross from danger three minutes later and with two minutes remaining, the Grantham stopper saved the day again after slack defending gifted Sawyer another chance.

Sawyer headed on target with a minute remaining but, again, Haystead was in the right place to catch his close range effort.

Ashley Walter had a final chance to give Soham the win in added time, but he fired over the target to set up a replay at the Jules Martin Lane ground on Tuesday night.

Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe, Meikle, Miller, Lister, Towey, McGhee, Lewis (c), G. Smith, Graham (King, 57), K. Smith (McDonald, 24). Subs not used: Nwadike, Sucharewycz, Turner. Att: 217.