Northern Premier League
FC United of Manchester 3
Grantham Town 0
Grantham gave FC United a hard test at Bower Fold and with a bit more luck and some refereeing decisions going their way, could have got the result their first half performance deserved.
At the break, Grantham had enjoyed the better chances and had a strong penalty shout turned down just after half time. Referee Mr Street allowed the home centre halves to manhandle the Gingerbreads forward line all night to the point of ignoring a clear trip on Paul Grimes inside the FC United penalty area.
The Gingerbreads could have taken the lead as early as the second minute. Grimes laid the ball back for Michael Jacklin. His deep cross found Rhys Lewis arriving late unmarked at the far post. Unfortunately for Grantham, Lewis could not direct his effort on target.
FC United tried to pass the ball patiently to open up the Gingerbreads, however, Grantham closed them down quickly and defended strongly to leave Dan Haystead largely untroubled for much of the first half.
The ball was in the FC United net after 12 minutes, but an offside flag allowed the home side to breathe a sigh of relief after they were opened up by Jordan Hempenstall. Hempenstall worked well with Grimes to break through the home side’s rearguard and hit a fierce shot that FC United goalkeeper David Carnell could only parry. Lewis pounced on the loose ball and put it in the net, only to see the flag up for offside.
Astley Mulholland on the wing, and David Birch through the centre, tried to work openings, but neither stretched Haystead as Grantham shut them both down effectively.
As the first half wore on, FC United began to make chances on the break. Liam Brownhill began to join in with the forwards and delivered one cross that Mulholland headed wide and another that had Haystead scrambling to his far post to claw clear.
Play swung from end to end as the half drew to a close. Michael Towey held play up well for Grantham to allow Jacklin to make a dart forward. Jacklin unleashed a good effort that drew an equally good save from Carnell. At the other end, Mulholland began to get some joy against the Gingerbreads back line. A free kick he earned hit the Grantham wall before being cleared, then he set up Matthew Woolfenden who unleashed a wild shot.
With the slope in their favour after the break, FC United pushed on a bit more and made it harder for Grantham to get the same quality of pass in to the front two as they had enjoyed in the first 45 minutes. From one of the few good balls through to the front two, Grimes battled with Tom Davies and seemed to be fouled by the FC United defender inside the penalty area, but Mr Street only gave a goal kick.
For the first 15 minutes, Grantham kept FC United at arms length, but starting with Tom Greaves’ shot on 61 minutes, that rolled just wide, FC United began to turn the screw. A stroke of fortune put the home side in front 20 minutes into the second half. Dean Stott just kept the ball in play and delivered an early cross that dropped just over Paul Lister. Jacklin did not have time to react to clear the ball and it bounced off him kindly for Woolfenden who poked his effort into the net past Haystead.
There was no luck about the second United goal a few minutes later. Substitute Mike Norton headed on for Mulholland. He turned back away from the by-line and laid the ball on perfectly for Tom Greaves to head home.
Grantham defended with spirit for a while, but FC United continued to press for more goals. Norton went close to getting one himself when he met Brownhill’s free kick. From close range, Haystead reacted superbly to turn Norton’s header over the crossbar.
Five minutes from time, Carnell denied Grantham a way back into the game. Adie Hawes got his head to a free kick from Jacklin. The ball dropped back to Hawes who forced the FC United goalkeeper into a good save to keep his shot out.
Three minutes from time, FC United added a third goal that probably gave a lopsided view to the scoreline. Grantham struggled to clear well from an FC United corner. The ball was played back into the Gingerbreads penalty area and for the second time of the night, Woolfenden found himself beyond the last Grantham defender with no flag and only Haystead to beat, which he did.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe, Jacklin, Hawes, Lister, Lewis, McGovern, Towey (King, 77), Grimes, Hempenstall (Motson, 82), (Walker, 74). Subs not used: Meikle, Ridley. Att: 1,732.