First qualifying round
Grantham Town 2
Arnold Town 0
SECOND-half goals from Paul Grimes and Phil Watt were enough to see the Gingerbreads through to the second qualifying round of this season’s FA Cup competition.
Although it took almost an hour for Grantham to break through, once they got their noses in front, there was only going to be one winner.
The game started with both sides going close in the opening few minutes. A long ball from Grant Brindley set Rob Norris running beyond the Arnold defence, but goalkeeper Martin Kearney touched his effort wide for a corner. At the other end, Luke Smithson got the ball wide and exchanged passes with Mitchell Slawson before curling a shot just wide of the top corner.
The visitors looked dangerous from set pieces and a deep corner after 10 minutes was headed over the crossbar by Joe Wood from a good position. Sam Saunders had to leave the pitch with a hamstring tweak after 19 minutes. Alistair Asher replaced him and almost immediately delivered a free kick that found Ben Saunders, but his header went wide.
As the game settled down, Grantham began to control things without threatening the Arnold goal too much. A Grimes shot that did not stretch Kearney and a Rhys Lewis header that went past the near post were all Grantham could muster for a long time.
As the half drew to a close, Grantham began to stretch the Arnold defence. Norris and Grimes combined to set up Sam Purcicoe, but he shot just wide of the target. Grimes then almost got behind the Arnold defence and laid a pass on for Norris, but the Grantham player was too slow getting to the ball and Arnold cleared their lines.
Norris had a shot blocked with what looked suspiciously like an arm, but referee Mr Carratt ignored the Gingerbreads’ claims. Norris was involved again in the last minute of the half, teeing up Lee Potts to deliver a cross. Lewis got on the end of Potts’ near-post delivery, but headed wide.
Arnold almost caught Grantham out straight from the kick-off. A cross-field ball caught Potts out and left Rob Murray to get off his line sharply to deny Josh Schoffield and then save the follow-up from Martin Carruthers. In reply, Grimes had a shot on the turn blocked and then Lewis headed over from the resulting corner.
Arnold went close again on 50 minutes. Phil Watt earned himself a yellow card when he brought down Slawson on the edge of the Grantham penalty area. Liam Garner struck the free kick well, but found Murray in top form as he denied the visitors a lead.
Just under 10 minutes later, Grantham were in front. Purcicoe attacked a loose ball and played it wide to Norris. He measured his cross for Grimes and he in turn placed his header back across Kearney into the top corner of the net.
The Arnold response was helped by Purcicoe on 69 minutes. His poor header only found Slawson. Brindley made a good covering challenge that forced Slawson to shoot wide. A couple of minutes later, Murray got a touch on to a shot from Schoffield when he picked up a flicked header.
Fifteen minutes from time, Grantham made the game safe. Norris curled a low fee kick around the Arnold wall towards the near post. Ben Saunders stepped over the ball for Watt to slide it in from six yards out.
The second goal took the wind out of Arnold’s sails and it was Grantham who finished strongest. Steve Melton and Ben Saunders put Potts in a good position, but his cross flashed along the six yard line with no-one there to turn it in. Potts and Norris then put efforts just wide of the target before both Ben Saunders and Grimes shot across the face of goal and wide when they probably should have done better.
Grantham Town: Murray, Purcicoe, Potts, Brindley, S. Saunders (Asher, 19), Watt, Lewis (Maddison, 79), Ball (Melton, 64), Grimes, B. Saunders, Norris. Subs not used: Carchedi, McGhee. Att: 201.