Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 2
Matlock Town 1
Grantham Town finally opened their league campaign account with a hard fought for win at The Meres on Saturday.
The Gingerbreads went behind early on and were frustrated throughout by a resolute Matlock defence, but Grantham never game up and stole victory with two late goals.
Jamie McGhee and Greg Smith both returned to Grantham this week, and both played prominent roles, with captain McGhee having a shot on goal just 12 seconds after kick-off.
The game got off at a fast and furious pace and, following Matlock’s Edward Cribley having a shot charged down, the Gingerbreads almost went in front after 10 minutes, but the visitors managed to keep the ball out of the net in a goalmouth scramble.
Grantham went behind three minutes later. Slack defending allowed former Gingerbread Laurie Wilson time and space to fire in with panache from the edge of the box.
There were few real chances for either side as the game swung from end to end. Grantham struggled to gain any cohesion, with the visitors quickly closing down any impending danger.
Danny Meadows played a ball through to Ben Saunders in the box, but the Grantham striker was unable to get a shot off before he was robbed of the ball by a Matlock defender. Wilson tried a hopeful volley from 20 yards but was a little too ambitious.
Gingerbreads goalkeeper Jake Turner was equal to Harry Coates’s header shortly before half time, whilst Matlock skipper Danny Holland headed over at the far post from a dangerous cross over the six yard box seconds later.
Turner kept the Gingerbreads in the game six minutes after the break, catching high to prevent a header from Coates, who ended up tangled in the net.
Grantham had an opportunity in the 53rd minute when Rhys Lewis’s long ball connected with McGhee, but he was dispossessed in the box. And then McGhee put in a cross for Saunders at the far post, but he was pressured off the ball before he could get his head to it.
Matlock continued to present some danger at the other end but Grantham somehow managed to avert conceding another goal.
Grantham came forward more relentlessly in the final 10 minutes. McGhee cut in from the right and darted into the box before driving his effort just over the bar.
Smith fired off a long ball to McGhee in the 81st minute but Matlock keeper George Willis smothered it before the Grantham number seven could get another touch.
The Gingerbreads missed a golden opportunity to level a minute later. Saunders’ overhead kick found Brad McGowan, but he sidefooted his volley over the bar from close range.
However, Grantham found the back of the net with three minutes of normal time remaining. A good build-up saw Smith play the ball in to Lee Shaw. He laid it back to Lewis who fired in with aplomb past Willis.
Grantham were unable to convert in a 90th minute goalmouth scramble but found the winner three minutes into added time. Substitute Michael Emmott curled in a searching cross and Saunders headed in to the roar of the joyous Meres faithful.
Grantham Town: Turner, Meadows, Storey (Emmott, 29), Holllingsworth, Beeson, McGowan, McGhee (c), Lewis, Smith, Saunders, Shaw. Subs not usedL Gorman, Beckett, Bilyk, Vagaroso. Att: 183.