Grantham Town share the spoils in first home game

Ben Fairclough. Photo: Toby Roberts
Ben Fairclough. Photo: Toby Roberts
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Northern Premier League

Premier Division

Grantham Town 1

Barwell 1

Grantham Town took a share of the spoils from their first home game at The Meres on Tuesday night.

It was a lively affair throughout with Barwell quickest out of the blocks early on, even hitting the post after just three minutes. Grantham’s first chance came three minutes later when Michael Towey outwitted the visitors’ defence and cut the ball back to Laurie Wilson, but his effort was deflected wide.

The Gingerbreads increased in confidence as the half wore on, with Jordan Heppenstall going close with a fine solo effort in the 12th minute and Greg Smith’s header was tipped over from a Scott Matthew free kick seven minutes later.

Hempenstall got on the end of a long ball seconds later and displayed some good leg speed before unleashing a half volley that drift wide and over.

The match continued unabatedly in a fast and furious, end-to-end fashion. Barwell keeper Liam Castle was forced to tip Smith’s 23rd minute lob over the bar and, at the other end, Callum Woodward’s rising drive went straight into the arms of Jake Turner.

Grantham went in front in the 39th minute in something of a goalmouth scramble following a Jack McGovern corner kick. Castle got a punch to the ball but Gingerbreads skipper Phil Watt managed to knock the ball into the back of the net.

The second half started in the same vein as the first, with Barwell running at Grantham and penning them in their own half in the early exchanges.

Again, Town got into their stride and went close six minutes in when Tom Batchelor unleashed a volley off the outside of his right foot that just flew wide.

The visitors were awarded a free kick just outside the box in the 55th minute after Smith brought down Alex Tomkinson. Woodward curled his effort around the four-man wall and Turner punched it clear with both fists.

Turner’s goal as under threat from a free kick once again three minutes later, this time slightly further out. Grantham left a two-man wall out in no-man’s land, giving Turner a good view of Danny Jenno’s strike that bobbled awkwardly before he scooped it up.

Smith fed fellow Grantham front man Ben Fairclough with a good ball just before the hour. The new number 11 sprinted down the right flank but was unfortunate his cross-cum-shot came off a Barwell defender.

The visitors got themselves back into the game properly with an equaliser on 68 minutes. Towey conceded a corner kick which was whipped in to the far post where Jenno headed in with aplomb.

Grantham and Barwell number nines, Hempenstall and Nigel Julian, both threatened but were each denied as the intensity increased, with both sides looking to clinch the game as the clock ran down.

No Town players could get a touch to Fairclough’s superb 79th minute cross into the box, and the Gingerbreads’ final opportunity to snatch all three points was presented to them in the 89th minute, but they were unable to take anything from the free kick just outside the box.

Grantham Town: Turner, Purcicoe, Matthews, Batchelor, Watt, Wilson, McGovern, Towey, Hempenstall, Smith (Sissons, 77), Fairclough. Subs not used: Walker, Johnson, Zuerner, Haystead. Att: 191.