GRANTHAM Town gave Solihull Moors a run for their money in the FA Cup, pulling back from two goals down. In the end, a third goal was just too much to come back from for the Gingerbreads
Third qualifying round
Solihull Moors 3
Grantham Town 2
The game could have taken a different course from the first minute. Grantham opened up Solihull almost straight away as Paul Grimes played in Lee Potts. His deep cross was met on the volley by Sam Purcicoe but his effort rose over the crossbar.
After weathering the early storm from Grantham, Solihull started to exert their own pressure. Michael Blackwood turned Grant Brindley and delivered a low cross. Sam Saunders did well to get there first ahead of Richard Walker. The next time Blackwood beat Brindley, it led to the opening goal. This time he hit a deep cross and James Melligan had enough time to control the ball before he fired past Rob Murray.
The Gingerbreads tried to get straight back into the game. Good work on the left between Potts and Grimes led to Grimes playing a square pass for Ben Saunders. He played it on for Gio Carchedi but his shot was deflected wide.
For the next 15 minutes, Solihull pinned Grantham back and had chances to add to their lead. Melligan and Phil Midworth worked a good position on the right. Midworth crossed and Blackwood met it well, but Brindley got there to keep the ball out of the Grantham net. There was some desperate defending from Grantham as Junior English started to make threatening runs from midfield. Sam Saunders took one cross away from him and Rhys Lewis had to work hard to deny him a few minutes later.
Midway through the first half, the Grantham defence was opened up again. Walker’s cross was just too high for Melligan and an offside flag denied English. A rare Grantham attack followed and the Gingerbreads had a good penalty appeal turned down. Grimes ran on past Karl Broadhurst who seemed to hold Grimes back, but referee Mr Eaton waved play on.
Blackwood was soon tormenting the Grantham defence. His cross for Walker was allowed to run for Melligan and Asher had to cover across quickly to block his shot. Blackwood created the second Solihull goal on 31 minutes. He got in behind the Gingerbreads defence again, but saw his first shot blocked. The loose ball fell to Walker and he turned it into an empty net.
Grantham were not prepared to give up on the game and seven minutes later they pulled a goal back. Lewis and Purcicoe played the ball through the Solihull midfield. Lewis put a low pass in to Ben Saunders at the near post. He could not get a clear strike on the ball, but it fell for Grimes who steered it over the line.
The Gingerbreads started the second half the same way as they had started the first. Potts delivered a great cross for Grimes. His header beat Jasbir Singh but came back off the post into the goalkeeper’s arms. Potts went close himself a couple of minutes later. Lewis fed the ball to him, but Potts’s shot rose over the crossbar.
Walker and Jordan Fitzpatrick both had efforts blocked before Grantham equalised with an hour gone. Asher dropped a free kick on to the Solihull 6yd line where Martin Ball beat the home defence to it and fired past Singh.
A minute later, Grantham thought they had taken the lead. Ben Saunders rose to power a header past Singh from Purcicoe’s cross, but referee Mr Eaton ruled it out for a foul.
The game swung from end to end. A cross-field pass sent Blackwood away from Brindley again. He held the ball up well and then crossed for Walker. His header came back off the Grantham crossbar. Melligan was then put through with just Murray to beat. The Grantham goalkeeper closed him down and Melligan only hit the side netting.
What turned out to be the winning goal came with 12 minutes left on the clock. Murray came for a ball over the top of the Grantham defence. With two defenders and two attackers meeting him on the edge of the penalty area, Murray could not get to the ball and it ended up with Murray appealing for a foul and Blackwood slotting the ball into an empty net.
Play was held up for almost eight minutes due to an injury to English which required the attention of the club doctor before play could continue. In the delay, Mr Eaton began to flash yellow cards about, booking Murray and Brindley. He went on to book another three players without a poor challenge being made and sent off Solihull’s Walker. All this should have led to almost an extra quarter of an hour, but Mr Easton decided nine minutes was enough as Grantham battled to draw level again.
Another Asher free kick caused problems for Solihull, but this time Singh gathered the ball. In the sixth minute of injury time, Grantham had their best chance to level scores. Ben Saunders turned a pass through the Solihull defence for Jamie McGhee. McGhee could not get enough power in his shot and Singh gathered it comfortably.
Grantham Town: Murray, Purcicoe, Potts, Brindley (Norris, 93), S. Saunders, Asher, Lewis (Whitman, 98), Ball, Grimes, B. Saunders, Carchedi (McGhee, 87). Subs not used: Maddison, O’Rafferty. Att: 302.