Grantham Town take on league leaders following early FA Trophy exit

Greg Smith's (left) equaliser earned the Gingerbreads a replay.
Greg Smith's (left) equaliser earned the Gingerbreads a replay.
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Grantham Town had two bites at the cherry in an attempt to stay in the FA Trophy competition, but went out after a long night at Soham Town Rangers on Tuesday.

The Gingerbreads held the Cambridgeshire side to a 2-2 draw at The Meres on Saturday, and were all square at the end of 90 minutes in Tuesday’s replay.

But extra time with 10 men proved too much to ask. The immediate dismissal of Gary King for something he said to the Soham bench, in response to verbal abuse from the home dugout, turned the game back in favour of the home side.

With a changed formation and some forced line-up changes due to five first team players missing, Grantham pressed Soham better than they had on Saturday.

But the visitors went behind after 20 minutes. Luke Stanley ran across the Grantham 18-yard line unchallenged and, finding space, he hit a low shot back across Jake Turner and into the net.

There were chances for both sides in the remainder of the first half and after the break, but it was not until late on that the Gingerbreads found an equaliser. King played a fine pass for Adie Hawes to take on and slip his shot past home keeper Leigh Follen.

Soham heads dropped, but immediately lifted as King got involved in a verbal exchange with the Soham bench and was sent off by referee Mr Turner.

McGhee almost put Grantham in front in the second minute of extra time but Follen saved with his legs. The home side immediately went up the other end and took the lead when George Darling ran unchallenged and beat Turner.

The game was finished with a fine strike early in the second period of extra time, and wrapped up three minutes from the end of extra time to make it 4-1 to Soham.

Despite the disappointment of Grantham’s early exit from the second major cup competition, joint manager Ian Robinson was upbeat about his side’s performance: “There was a little bit of quality lacking, but given the squad of players we had available, we knew it was going to be tough. We feel that if it weren’t for the sending off, we would have gone on to win the game.”

Kallum Smith broke his ankle on Saturday and the Gingerbreads will also be without Dan Haystead, Paul Lister, Ash Burbeary and Lee Ridley for tomorrow’s game against league leaders Skelmersdale United at The Meres.

But there will new faces in on-loan striker Ben Fairclough, from Boston United, and Jack Andrews from Alfreton Town.

Robinson said: “We are probably not expected to get anything from the game on Saturday. If our loan signings show everyone what they are all about, we can do alright.

“They are there to beat and we know that there is not a lot between the top of the table and the middle. Fine margins in games can make the difference and can change the game.

“At times we need to get the rub of the green, and score goals at the right times in games. We hope to get our share of things on Saturday.”

+ All members and former members of the Armed Forces will receive free entry to the Skelmersdale game at The Meres tomorrow (Saturday, October 26). Kick-off is 3pm.

The Gingerbreads are at home again on Tuesday night when they take on Kings Lynn Town. Kick-off is 7.45pm.

Admission to The Meres is £10 adults, £8 concessions, and under-16s free when accompanied by a paying adult.

+ The Gingerbreads Soccer School runs every Saturday between 10.30am and 11.30am. It is for anyone aged between seven and 11 who wants some coaching and fun. Cost is £4 per child for a session or £20 for six weeks. Meet in the stadium foyer.