GRANTHAM Town came out on top in another high-scoring visit to Nene Park.
Trailing at the break, a strong second half performance from Grantham saw them canter to a 5-3 win, Kettering’s third goal coming as a last minute consolation.
The Gingerbreads had three good chances to take the lead inside the first 10 minutes. Connor Higginson took a short corner to Lee Potts after three minutes. Potts crossed and found Rhys Lewis who put a free header wide of the mark.
Another Potts cross a couple of minutes later found Ben Saunders but his header lacked power and failed to trouble Ben Gathercole in the Kettering goal. Gathercole was busy a couple of minutes later when Sam Purcicoe robbed Joe Lamplough and drove forward. His shot was turned round the post by Gathercole.
The home side created a couple of early chances of their own with Samuel Aziz delivering a good cross from the Grantham left for Ugo Okoro. Jimmy Lindley made a good save. Ed Palmer then volleyed over the top after a Kettering corner.
Ten minutes before half time, Kettering took the lead thanks to poor defending from Grantham. Palmer’s 30-yard free kick skidded off the surface and came back off Lindley. Three Kettering players closed in on the loose ball with no challenge from a red shirt and Aziz tucked it into the net.
A minute later, the Poppies doubled their lead before Grantham had re-organised themselves. Aziz made the most of indecision in the Gingerbreads defence, winning the ball then playing it in for Jamie Griffiths to score.
It could have been even worse for Grantham as almost straight away a ball over the top of a static Grantham defence sent Danny Voight away with only Lindley to beat. A poor touch gave the ball to the Gingerbreads goalkeeper.
Higginson got Grantham back in the game seven minutes before half time. Ben Saunders and Paul Grimes did well to work the ball to Higginson who opened up space for himself and drilled a low shot into the corner of the net.
Gathercole kept his side in front as the break approached. First he routinely tipped a free kick from Martin Ball over the crossbar, and then made a good save to deny Grimes after Phil Watt and Potts had worked the ball nicely to him.
Kettering changed the whole of their side for the second half and for the opening minutes Grantham were on the back foot. Sam Saunders was beaten to the ball near the halfway line and Sean Bennett-Johnson showed a turn of pace down the flank. Jacklin was well placed to clear his low cross.
Ten minutes into the second half, Grantham pulled level. Higginson seemed to be going nowhere inside the Kettering penalty area. Nathan Mukuna chopped his legs from underneath him, giving the referee no option but to award a penalty. Grimes blasted the spot kick past Laurie Walker.
After 71 minutes, Grantham worked the ball across field from Potts to Lewis who easily beat Paul Colclough and drove a low cross into the six-yard box. Walker fumbled the cross and Grimes picked up the loose ball and fired into the net.
Six minutes later, Grantham made it four when Purcicoe took aim as the ball dropped nicely for him 25 yards out. Walker stood no chance as Purcicoe unleashed a pile-driver shot that flew into the top corner of the net.
Substitute Tony Battersby added a fifth with seven minutes remaining. He robbed the Kettering defence when Mukuna and Colclough dithered. Battersby looked to see if anyone was better placed than himself before setting off with just Walker to beat. The Kettering goalkeeper could do nothing to stop him sliding the ball past him into the net.
Right on the final whistle, it was Grantham’s turn to concede after not clearing their lines. As the Gingerbreads decided who and how they were going to clear, Bennett-Johnson nipped in and took the ball away. Creating space well, he drilled a shot past Lindley for a consolation goal.
Grantham Town: Lindley, Purcicoe, Potts (Magee, 77), Jacklin, S. Saunders, Watt, Lewis, Ball, Grimes (Carchedi, 77), B. Saunders (Battersby, 77), Higginson (McGhee, 57). Subs not used: Briers, Nwadike.