Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 4
Carlton Town 2
DRAWING one all at half time, the midway scoreline did not reflect Grantham Town’s efforts in the first half, with the second 45 minutes more accurately giving a picture of the Gingerbreads’ dominance over their higher placed opposition.
A sun-drenched Meres saw a steady start by both sides with the first real chance falling to Ben Saunders who knocked the ball past the far post after he was set up by Gio Carchedi.
Carlton’s Ian Brown had the ball in the net two minutes later but the linesman’s flag was already up for offside. The Gingerbreads conceded several free kicks but none proved any threat and it was the home side who went closest in the 18th minute when Paul Grimes put a cross in over the 6yd box, but the diminutive Carchedi could not quite make contact with his head.
Rhys Lewis fired his half-volley over Carlton the bar a minute later, before Martin Ball had a powerful drive blocked.
Midway through the first half, Grantham were playing calmly and with poise, only let down by occasionally giving the ball away carelessly.
The Gingerbreads finally got their reward in the 23rd minute when Carchedi was quick to slot in past Carlton keeper Danny Marshall.
Ben Saunders went close to doubling the lead five minutes later. Lee Potts curled in a cross from the left after a good cut-back from Grimes, but Ben Saunders directed his header just over the bar. Ben Saunders curled another effort over two minutes later, after he was set up nicely by his brother Sam.
Grantham remained generally in the ascendancy, with Carchedi firing over in the 36th minute and Ben Saunders forcing a good save from Marshall three minutes later, until Carlton suddenly got themselves back into the game with four minutes remaining in the first half. Terry Hawkridge floated in what appeared to be a fairly innocuous cross-cum-shot but the ball sailed over Grantham keeper Rob Murray and into the net.
With their tails up, Carlton looked dangerous in the last few minutes of the half. Josh Thornton tried his luck from 35 yards and Ashley Grayson’s diving header went not far over the target. The Gingerbreads had one last chance in the first half when Ben Saunders cut the ball back to Ball but shot wide of the mark.
Grantham carried on in the same vein after the break, with Lewis’s aerial volley blocked just six minutes into the half. A minute later, Phil Watt rose to Potts’s corner kick but header over the goal.
Largely penned in their own half, Carlton had to block a Grimes long-range effort, and Marshall punched Ball’s curling free kick from danger, before the home side restored their lead in the 56th minute. Carchedi’s corner kick found its way to Ben Saunders and fired in with aplomb.
Ryan Goward tried his luck from Carlton’s half but Murray’s goal was never in danger. But the Nottingham side pulled level a second time just after the hour. Hawkridge’s corner kick was met by the unmarked Brown at the far post, and he nodded the ball in.
Grantham were soon back in front in the 65 minute after Grant Brindley was fouled in the 18yd box, with Potts confidently firing in the spot kick. Sam Purcicoe tested Marshall with his 40yd curling shot in the 70th minute, and Grimes’s free kick skimmed the Carlton bar three minutes later.
Carlton had a chance to equalise a third time when referee Mr Earl awarded the Nottingham side a penalty after Murray brought down Ruben Wiggins-Thomas from behind. Hawkridge stepped up to kick from the spot but sent his effort over, off the bar.
Vocal throughout, the Meres home crowd were rewarded for their support in the 84th minute. Ball set up Ben Saunders in the Carlton box. He struggled to get a shot off but Grimes pounced and fired home to effectively seal a good performance and victory.
Grantham Town: Murray, Puricoe, Potts, Brindley (Asher, 64), S. Saunders, Watt, Lewis, Ball, Grimes (Norris, 90), B. Saunders, Carchedi (McGhee, 87). Subs not used: Whitman, Maddison. Att: 192.