Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Rushall Olympic 3
Grantham Town 1
Rushall proved too strong for Grantham, despite a solid opening half hour from the Gingerbreads.
Level at half time, two second half goals saw Town beaten on their travels for the 12th time this season.
Both sides slugged it out from the opening whistle on a heavy pitch which was still showing the effects of the midweek game.
Grantham matched their play-off chasing opponents and carved out the first chance of the game after six minutes. Adie Hawes won his header from a good delivery into the Rushall penalty area and the ball fell to Gregg Smith. Smith failed to catch his volley right and the chance was lost.
Rushall immediately showed where they were to be most dangerous all afternoon. Josh Cradock fed full back Kyle Haynes wide on the Grantham left. Lee Ridley did well to get back and block the cross.
Referee Mr Cheosiaua kept stopping the game, but that proved an advantage to the Gingerbreads. Rushall’s Sam Smith rose unmarked to head wide from a Rushall free kick, but a minute later a free kick for the Gingerbreads led to the opening goal. Emeka Nwadike delivered the ball high into the Rushall penalty area. Gregg Smith challenged with Chris Gemmell and the ball sailed over both to end up in the corner of the net.
As the half wore on, Rushall began to get on top and dominate possession and territory, but without seriously troubling Jake Turner. Dave Walker was allowed to run looking suspiciously offside, but Turner did well to stop him in his tracks. Sam Smith again got up highest from a corner at the far post, but Turner was in the right place and his header was straight at the Grantham goalkeeper.
Ahmed Obeng was the biggest threat to Grantham with his pace and close control. On 25 minutes, he collected a header from Walker and beat the Gingerbreads defence. From the edge of the penalty area, he hit a shot that rattled back off the crossbar.
Rushall captain Wayne Daniel spread play wide to Haynes and he cut inside off the wing and let fly, but good covering by Deon Meikle blocked his shot. A few minutes later, a long clearance dropped for him and he hit it first time, but over the top.
Four minutes from half time, Rushall got themselves level. Obeng ran at the Grantham defence again and let fly. His fierce drive beat Turner and ended up in the net off the inside of the post.
Rushall continued to have the better of possession after the break, but Grantham defended well and the home side found no way through. The Gingerbreads showed some tenacity in the centre of the park. Danny Elliott won a good challenge to get the ball to Rhys Lewis. He fed Jamie McGhee but his shot flew wide of the mark.
McGhee was on the end of a good move a minute later when Elliott and T. J. Nightingale held the ball well. McGhee went past a couple of challenges but again lifted his shot wide.
Just after the hour mark, the home side got their noses in front. Haynes was given too much space to come forward on the Grantham left. He took on Ridley and fired in a low cross into the Gingerbreads six-yard box. Craddock slid in at the far post to bundle the ball over the line.
Two minutes later, Rushall repeated the trick but this time Craddock had moved a fraction too soon and the effort was ruled out by an offside flag.
When Grantham got forward to try and get back on level terms, they could not get anyone in the right place to make the most of good work by Nightingale, then a shot from Nathan Watson was deflected wide.
As the game wore on, the Grantham defence became their own worst enemies. After 70 minutes, a poor clearance from Hawes gave Obeng the chance to nip in before Turner could get to the ball. The Rushall striker had an open goal to aim at, but rolled the ball wide of the far post.
Obeng overplayed another chance before Grantham gifted the home side a third goal. Turner failed to clear his lines quickly enough as he was closed down by a lively Rushall front line. The ball squirted into the centre of the penalty area where Hakeem Islam had two efforts blocked before Craddock forced in his second of the afternoon.
Islam was a handful for the Grantham defence late on, creating two more scoring chances that Grantham desperately cleared.
Lewis had a late chance for Grantham when Watson and Ridley made room on the left. Ridley picked out Lewis on the edge of the Rushall penalty area, but his low shot went just past Gemmell’s post.
Grantham Town: Turner, Hannigan, Ridley, Meikle, Hawes, Lewis, Elliott (Purcicoe, 66), Nwadike, Watson, Smith (Nightingale, 52), McGhee (MacVicar, 66). Subs not used: Carchedi, Smith. Att: 186.