Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 0
Ashton United 0
Hosts Grantham Town took a share of the points in a far from scintillating goalless draw at The Meres on Saturday.
Both halves of the game were pretty dull affairs that livened up as they went on, but a sense that neither team was likely to make the vital breakthrough seemed to permeate the match from the first whistle.
The Gingerbreads’ first chances came through Jordan Hempenstall, and the home side lost Ben Fairclough to injury with just 10 minutes played, with Connor Johnson going on to replace him.
Ashton’s first real chance came two minutes later when Town keeper Dan Haystead punched the ball away only as far as Bradley Robinson, but his volley was deflected out for a corner kick.
At the other end, visiting keeper Paul Philips caught Hempenstall’s looping header.
A neat little move on 23 minutes saw Grantham’s Greg Smith play a sublime back-pass to Scott Matthews, whose cross was defended out for a corner. Liam Dickens swung the flag kick in to Smith at the near post, but the Town number 10’s access to the ball was impeded by a United defender.
Chris Baguley had a good opportunity to put the visitors in front on 26 minutes, bursting through a gap in the Gingerbreads defence before Haystead’s looming presence caused him to put his effort wide.
Grantham number 11 Alex Simmons had a good view at goal on 33 minutes but he sliced his strike wide with the outside of his left foot.
Both sides failed to make the most of any half chances as the clock ticked down for half time, with Town’s Liam Dickens heading close to the mark in the 41st minute.
The second half continued in the same vein, with the two sides swapping chances at either end that one could sense were not destined for the back of the net.
Baguley curled a dangerous 20-yard free kick over the Grantham wall and bar five minutes into the second period and, two minutes later, Smith fired on target but it was easy enough for Philips to save. Ashton substitute Martin Pilkington put his dangerous looking header over the target a minute later.
Known for his solo efforts, Hempenstall’s 57th minute individual run in on goal ended with his cross-cum-shot being blocked by an Ashton defender.
Hero Haystead made two spectacular stops to keep the Gingerbreads level within 60 seconds. He tipped Jason Gorton’s effort wide in the 65th minute, and then he blocked another goalbound shot from the Ashton skipper, this time with his boot.
Simmons won Grantham a corner kick two minutes later. Dickens took it short to Johnson who sent it back for Dickens to loop over a cross to Phil Watt, but Town’s skipper headed wide at the near post.
With 10 minutes remaining, Hempenstall fired a free kick low through the Ashton wall, only for one of his own players to deflect the ball wide for a goal kick.
Ashton were not done either, and three minutes alter they played a free kick short to Ashley Young who blasted on target, but Haystead managed to scoop up the bobbling ball while under pressure.
The Gingerbreads’ last opportunity of the afternoon came on 86 minutes but Simmons wastefully blasted well wide with his left foot.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe, Matthews, Meikle, Watt (c), Dickens, Fairclough (Johnson, 10), Lewis (Rawden, 84), Hempenstall, Smith (Haughton, 78), Simmons. Subs not used: Batchelor, Turner.