Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 3
Worksop Town 0
The Gingerbreads put on a classy performance in front of a good Bank Holiday Monday crowd to record a deserved three goal victory. Despite the advantage of the wind in the first half, Worksop were second best for most of the game and after captain Stuart Ludlam was sent off had no answer to Grantham.
An entertaining game got off to a slow start, but referee Mr Law set the tone for some of his later decisions in the fourth minute when he decided that Massiah McDonald, who was late and caught Jimmy Lindley after the Grantham goalkeeper had gathered the ball, only deserved a talking to, and no card was shown.
Grantham played into a strong Meres breeze and mastered it in their faces better than Worksop did with it at their backs. After 12 minutes, Paul Grimes chased a ball into the corner flag and whipped over a cross that Ben Saunders acrobatically met, but could only direct his overhead shot at Paul Bastock in the Worksop goal.
The visitors’ striker Leon Mettam should have put them in front on 17 minutes. He started the move, taking a pass from Craig King and returning the ball to the same player. King squared the ball for Matt Young, who was blocked by Grant Brindley and Emeka Nwadike. The loose ball was met by Mettam who placed his shot just past the post.
A great ball into Ben Saunders from Paul Grimes counted for nothing as an offside flag was waved, despite Saunders running from behind his defender. Decisions from the officials continued to frustrate Grantham on 23 minutes. Karl Demidh ran onto a ball over the top of the Worksop defence and appeared to be hauled back and off the ball inside the penalty area, referee Mr Law just waved play on.
The better chances continued to fall to the Gingerbreads. Ben Saunders headed wide after good work from Grimes and Sam Purcicoe. Just after the half hour mark, the Grantham front three opened up Worksop neatly. Ben Saunders won a header for Demidh who turned the ball on for Grimes. His shot flew just too high.
Two free kicks from Martin Ball tested the visitors’ defence. The first was whipped into the centre of the penalty area and comfortably cleared. The second was dropped to the far post where Phil Watt was only just beaten to the ball by Bastock.
Worksop had the ball in the net after 31 minutes, but Grantham were grateful to the referee’s assistant for flagging King offside as he picked up the loose ball after Lindley saved well from Owain Wardlow’s drive.
Purcicoe was involved in two late incidents as the half drew to a goalless close. First he robbed McDonald and strode forward to strike a shot that hit a Worksop arm in the penalty area. Again Mr Law said no. On the stroke of half time Purcicoe got the ball through to Nwadike who hit the target with his shot, but Bastock pulled off another good save.
Six minutes after the break, Purcicoe broke the deadlock. Sam Saunders’ cross was challenged for by Demidh and Ben Saunders, the loose ball dropping to Purcicoe. He drove his shot past Bastock to open the scoring.
Ten minutes later, the game was wrapped up. Grimes was sent clear of the Worksop defence by Demidh. Ludlam brought the Grantham striker down just outside the penalty area and as last man was shown the red card by Mr Law. Ball’s free kick was beaten out by Bastock, and then Demidh’s header hit the crossbar. The rebound fell to Ben Saunders who swept it past Bastock.
The ten men found themselves three goals down four minutes later. Ball put a corner in just the right place for Watt to get across his man and head past Bastock. From there on, Grantham began to play some expansive football and only desperate defending by Sam Craven prevented Watt from shooting for what would have been his second goal of the game.
Worksop showed Grantham could not let up too much with fifteen minutes to go. Bruno Holden won the ball well and fed Mettam. This time he got away from Brindley and took the ball round Lindley. As Grantham chased back, Lindley recovered quickly and won the ball from Mettam. The Gingerbreads goalkeeper then cleared quickly to Grimes who went on and brought another good save from Bastock.
Five minutes from time, Grimes was carried off on a stretcher after Mr Law failed to give a penalty for the third time in the game. Watt passed to Purcicoe who headed on for Grimes. With only Bastock to beat, a heavy challenge from behind felled Grimes and led to him going to hospital for an x-ray on his ankle. Mr Law only gave a goal kick.
With the game won, Grantham let the visitors in three times late in the game, but none of the chances were taken. Brindley got across to clear a cross from Ryan Clarke, Mettam shot over the top after Lee Beeson rolled a 25 yard free kick to him to strike and Holden’s cross flew inches away from Mettam’s desperate last minute dive.
Grantham: Lindley, Purcicoe, Potts, Brindley, Sam Saunders, Watt, Demidh (McGhee, 80 mins), Ball, Grimes (Higginson, 85 mins), Ben Saunders (Battersby, 69 mins), Nwadike. Sub not used: Briers, Jacklin.