A HUGE attendance witnessed Grantham Town’s return to the Northern Premier League Premier Division at The Meres on Saturday.
A crowd of more than 1,200 saw the Gingerbreads battle valiantly against one of the title favourites, FC United of Manchester. The Manchester side brought more than 700 fans who sang and chanted throughout the 90 minutes.
Grantham enjoyed what joint manager Wayne Hallcro termed a “dream start” early on to send the home crowd wild, but it was not to be Town’s day. Back on level terms, FC United went in front after the break after the home keeper was red carded. The match ended 4-2.
Hallcro said: “Looking at what we’ve achieved, there’s a lot of plus points. Hopefully people have had there money’s worth today. Young lads coming through the gates have probably never seen that atmosphere up here before. It was all good apart from the result.”
Co-boss Jimmy Albans re-iterated Hallcro’s sentiments: “This is what we’ve wanted for years. That’s the type of crowd we and the players want to play in front of. I hope they liked what they saw.”
Following the opening game defeat, the Gingerbreads immediately got back on track with a 1-0 win at Stafford Rangers on Tuesday night – finishing again with just 10 men.
Albans said: “Stafford was more like the week to week game we will be facing for the rest of the season. Our communication and togetherness will take us a long way this season. That showed by playing for 50 minutes with 10 men.
“With the way we set up, if we do get a man sent off, we can just drop one of the front two deeper into midfield and continue to play the same way from the back. On the night we deserved the goal and now need to keep on playing the same way and keep our good form.
“In any season, the first three points are always the hardest to get. Now we have got them, it doesn’t take any pressure off Wayne and me, but it does lift it from the players. There were signs of a lack of pressure on Tuesday night. We played a very relaxed game.”
Grantham can expect a tough encounter at Chorley tomorrow, despite the Lancashire side losing in midweek. Albans said that changes would be necessary due to a large amount of absentees – Rhys Lewis, Damien Magee, Gio Carchedi, Connor Higginson, Ash Robinson – with Martin Ball doubtful.
Albans said: “We are all looking forward to the game. We wanted to be here and everyone is enjoying every minute of it. The pressure is off us, but is on the opposition. Our consistency and style of play makes it difficult for opponents and easier for us.”
l Match reports on page 78 with more on the FC United game on page 4.