Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Doodson Sport Cup
Grantham Town 1
Matlock Town 2
Grantham Town exited the knockout cup competition with a battling performance in front of a small crowd on a bitterly cold night at The Meres on uesday night.
The biting wind kept the pace of the game high throughout, with the Gingerbreads dominating and taking the lead in the first half, until the visitors bounced back with two goals before half time.
The first 10 minutes was virtually all Grantham’s with the visitors showing nothing of note going forward.
Nathan Watson’s seventh minute header was cleared off the line, and the resulting goalmouth scramble failed to come up trumps for the Gingerbreads.
Grantham continued to be lively, passing the ball with ease, and looked assured going forward – although their defence was yet to be tested.
The pressure paid off and the home side went in front after 14 minutes. Gio Carchedi put a delightful ball through to Kallum Smith who slotted home.
Rhys Lewis’ 18th minute header went awry and at the other end, Matlock’s real first chance was a free kick from the corner of the penalty area, but it was lifted well over the bar.
The Gingerbreads harried and tussled in midfield, frustrating the visitors’ with every twist and turn. Deon Meikle cleared the danger when Matlock’s Gareth Davies delivered a dangerous cross into the home 18-yard box with 28 minutes played.
Meikle was Grantham’s saviour again two minutes later when he raced to cut out Massiah McDonald after a good ball in from Anthony Griffiths Jnr.
More delightful interplay in midfield set up Smith again, but Matlock keeper Jon Kennedy managed to smother the ball first.
The game turned when the visitors were awarded a penalty in the 35th minute after Adam Yates was fouled in the box. Bradley Grayson stepped up to level the scores.
The equaliser completely revitalised Matlock and suddenly the Gingerbreads were under the cosh. The Derbyshire side were rampant up to half time and went in front on 43 minutes when McDonald slotted into the bottom left hand corner.
Grantham’s goal came under attack three times in the first minute of the second half but they managed to keep the ball out of the net.
Grayson continued to look dangerous and carved his way down the right flank on 50 minutes to deliver a beauty of a squared ball across the face of goal. Fortunately for Grantham, McDonald was unable to stretch far enough to make contact.
The visitors were awarded a free kick after Griffiths Jnr was fouled 20 yards out after 56 minutes. James Ashmore drove his effort hard and direct but Grantham keeper Jake Turner parried at the near post.
Troke miskicked his half volley just after the hour and at the other end Joe Leesley got on the end of a long free kick but Turner blocked well again.
The Gingerbreads’ best chance of levelling came in the 67th minute. A flowing, incisive move saw Watson find Smith, who slotted through to Carchedi, but he stumbled under pressure in the box.
Matlock could have extended their advantage in the 72nd minute but Grayson’s header hit the far post. The ball was still live but Turner did well to smother it with McDonald and Grayson waiting to pounce.
Meikle cleared from a dangerous Matlock free kick in the 78th minute and the Gingerbreads managed to tighten the reins for the remainder of the game, although an equaliser never really looked on the cards with the visitors defending to the hilt.
Grantham Town: Turner, Leggett, Bray, Meikle, Lewis, Nwadike (c), Watson, Troke, Carchedi, Nightingale, Smith. Subs: Drury, Pease, Rawdon. Att: 81.