Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 2
Rushall Olympic 1
Grantham Town put in a solid performance to record their first win since January 8.
The lowly placed Gingerbreads showed little of their supposed inferiority, and the visitors displayed nothing to suggest they were a top three team.
An evenly-balanced opening 10 minutes was scrapped out and the first real chance came on 14 minutes when Jamie McGhee put in a good cross into the Rushall box, but keeper Chris Gemmell just beat Greg Smith to the ball.
Grantham nearly got themselves in a spot of trouble a couple of minutes later from a sloppy pass-back; fortunately, Town keeper Jake Turner brought the ball to safety with Ahmed Obeng closing right in.
The home side defended well, marshalled midfield with aplomb and went close again in the 18th minute, but Greg Smith could not quite get his head to Sam Purcicoe’s cross.
Rushall’s Lee Downes fouled Kallum Smith in the 28th minute. Smith brushed himself down and took the free kick but an Olympic defender headed the ball clear. At the other end, the visitors had a free kick on the half hour mark. Jonathan Haynes fired on target but Turner was well placed to take a comfortable catch.
The Gingerbreads continued to hold their own and a good run from Jordan Smith down the right saw him put in a deft cross, but an Olympic defender cleared the danger.
Grantham capped a solid first half performance by taking the lead on the stroke of half time. Skipper Emeka Nwadike’s effort was cleared off the line, and Kallum Smith’s shot was deflected for a corner. The flag-kick found its way to Grantham defender Adie Hawes who headed past Gemmell.
The second half began frenetically as Rushall forced the pace, but Town were not fazed and continued to look confident.
Turner was forced into action a couple of times early on, punching Kyle Haynes’s corner kick clear, and gathering Jonathan Haynes’s 58th minute long throw-in.
Jordan Smith put in another good run down the right flank just before the hour but there was no-one there to get a touch to his crossfield ball. At the other end, another Jonathan Haynes long throw made it all the way to the six-yard box, but Turner caught it with ease.
Rhys Lewis forced an acrobatic diving punch from Gemmell in the 70th minute, but the Rushall keeper was beaten a second time four minutes later in spectacular fashion. Kallum Smith put a neat ball over to Greg Smith at the corner of the 18-yard box, and he smashed in between Gemmell and the near post.
Now trailing by two goals, Rushall began searching for a goal in earnest. Turner rose well to catch Kyle Haynes’s 79th minute header and tipped the same player’s corner kick from the danger zone in the 87th minute.
Town had a chance to seal victory with a third goal on 90 minutes, but substitute Gio Carchedi opted to square the ball to Jordan Smith rather than take a strike himself. Smith fluffed the shot and Danny Elliot was also unable to capitalise on a golden opportunity.
Rushall got on the scoresheet in the fifth minute of added time when the ball went off Grantham defender Hawes and into his own net.
Referee Mr Feerick finally blew his whistle to the relief of The Meres faithful as the Gingerbreads celebrated their first win in 11 matches.
Grantham Town: Turner, Purcicoe, Ridley, Hannigan, Hawes, Lewis, McGhee (Elliot, 88), Nwadike, G. Smith (Carchedi 82), J. Smith, K. Smith (Watson, 80). Subs not used: MacVicar, Asher. Att: 199.