Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 1
Frickley Athletic 1
Grantham Town battled out a draw to kick off the New Year in testing conditions at The Meres.
A share of the points was probably a fair result although the Gingerbreads generally dominated the first half, but with no reward, and at times it looked as though the strongly southerly wind would be the only winner.
Grantham had the gale at their backs for the first 45 minutes and enjoyed a bright and lively start to the game, with the visitors unable to get the ball out of their own half for the first 10 minutes.
The home side’s first real chance came from a corner kick in the 11th minute. Michael Emmott curled his flag kick into the wind and the ball swung back in to Liam Kay who got a touch, but just not enough.
Frickley broke down the left flank immediately. The cross beat home goalkeeper Dan Haystead but Kay was in the right place to clear the danger.
A couple more Emmott corner kicks brought no reward and his 17th minute hopeful 25-yard drive was deflected off target. Seconds later, Town striker Paul Grimes tried his luck from the edge of the box but got too much on his attempted chip. Emmott’s volleyed cross-cum-shot also had too much verve a minute later.
The Gingerbreads continued to dictate throughout the half, with Kay firing over in the 24th minute and Rhys Lewis heading off target due to defensive pressure. Daniel Cockerline’s 25-yard drive rose steadily over the Athletic crossbar in the 35th minute.
The game remained deadlocked at half time, despite both sides having a chance apiece in the closing minutes.
Now facing the wind, Grantham were out of the dressing room early and had a couple of goal scoring opportunities in the first five minutes of the second half. Danny Meadows put in a good cross from the right but Grimes was just unable to time his run in on goal to perfection. Grimes then turned provider a minute later but Lewis could not get a shot off.
Rain began to swirl around the stadium just as Frickley’s Brad Riley broke down the left in the 56th minute. He hooked in a nice cross to the far post where Luke Hinsley headed in with aplomb.
But Grantham were anything but beaten and, in fact, the concession of the goal pepped them up if anything.
And the equaliser came 11 minutes later, bringing the biggest cheers of the match from the home crowd. The Gingerbreads came at the visitors with a succession of shots – Lewis and Grimes were both denied, but the ball went out to Emmott and he blasted in from just inside the penalty box.
Town keeper Haystead was the hero once again when he pulled off a fantastic reaction save, somehow flipping the ball over the bar from Reece Thompson’s 73rd minute effort.
At the other end, a Meadows free kick from 25 yards also brought a good diving catch from visiting stopper Ben Simpson with 10 minutes remaining.
Frickley had another chance to steal victory two minutes later but, sliding in one-on-one with Haystead, Thompson was unable to get the vital touch to a Luke Jeffs cross. And then on 84 minutes, Hinsley fell to the ground in dismay after his sitter of a header went wide of the mark.
There was more holding of heads in the 87th minute, this time from the Gingerbreads supporters who looked on in disbelief as Grimes missed a seemingly unmissable target.
Grimes had a chance to reprieve himself two minutes later but he drove his free kick into the wall.
Grantham’s final opportunity to take all three points came in the fourth minute of added time, but Simpson was equal to Meadows’ strike.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe (c), Kay, Batchelor, Hellewell, Miveld, Meadows, Lewis, Grimes, Cockerline (Bilyk, 84), Emmott. Subs not used: Johnson, Divver, Rawdon, Rhule. Att: 241.