Grantham Town stay top after Boxing Day win against Stamford

Gingerbread Gio Carchedi dances his way through the Stamford defence at The Meres on Boxing Day. Photo: Fardell Photography

Gingerbread Gio Carchedi dances his way through the Stamford defence at The Meres on Boxing Day. Photo: Fardell Photography

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Evo-Stik League

Division One South

Grantham Town 1

Stamford 0

A SINGLE first-half goal was enough to give the Gingerbreads victory and keep them top of the league going into the New Year.

Grantham completely dominated the first half and should really have gone into the half-time break with more to show for their efforts.

Town’s first chance came in the sixth minute. Ben Saunders cut the ball back to Lee Potts who touched on to Gio Carchedi, but his volley was blocked by a Stamford defender. Grantham’s next best opportunity was a Martin Ball curling free kick which just drifted wide of the far post in the 11th minute.

Stout Stamford keeper Ross Whalin shrugged off the Christmas excesses as he raced out of his area to deny Paul Grimes a shot on the quarter hour mark. Carchedi’s diving header seconds later went straight to Whalin. Whalin then gathered from an awkward bounce after a 20yd Ben Saunders effort.

Once again, Grantham looked confident and full of poise and a goal seemed on the horizon. Grimes was denied again by Whalin and the Stamford stopper tipped a header wide from a flying Ben Saunders in the 27th minute.

Two minutes later the Gingerbreads skipper gave his side the reward they deserved. Grimes had his shot blocked. Ball flicked the ball up and Ben Saunders hammered home a spectacular volley.

Grantham continued to dictate the pace and Stamford seemed unable to retain the ball for longer than two passes.

Ben Saunders set up Carchedi with a 32nd minute cross but the diminutive front man’s low volley went wide of the far post. Ben Saunders was in the thick of it again in the 36th minute, laying on a good ball to Potts on the left. He ran in on target and forced another good save from Whalin.

Ben Saunders looked to have doubled his side’s lead two minutes into the second half but the officials saw it differently. Saunders’ effort appeared to have gone in but from another angle it may have looked like it came off the inside of the post.

Stamford’s first real chance of the game saw Bruno Holden have his shot tipped to the side netting by an attentive Rob Murray in the Grantham goal. Once again, Ben Saunders could have extended Town’s advantage in the 53rd minute, but he was unable to get a shot off after a good ball in from Grimes.

Rhys Lewis’s 66th minute shot was too weak and a minute later Grimes’s effort was also too easy for Whalin.

The second half became increasingly scrappy until the 80th minute when Stamford saw the tide might be turning after Grantham were reduced to 10 men with the sending off of Sam Purcicoe for his second yellow card.

Town eventually cleared from an 82nd minute Stamford corner kick, and Murray was called into action a minute later to pluck Adam Hewitt’s lob from the air. Murray was out quickly to snatch the ball from the on-rushing Holden in the 89th minute. Town’s worries were exacerbated when Mr Jones inexplicably signalled four minutes of added time.

Two minutes into the extra period, Grantham held their breath when Harry Deane’s header ricocheted off the post.

The visitors finally started to look something of a danger as the seconds ticked down, but it was too late. Substitute Jake Gibson’s long range effort went wide before Mr Jones blew the final whistle.

Grantham Town: Murray, Purcicoe, Potts, Brindley, S. Saunders, Watt, Lewis, Ball, Grimes (Battersby, 90), B. Saunders (Magee 83), Carchedi (McGhee, 83). Subs not used: Cann, Melton. Att: 502.