Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 3
Stafford Rangers 2
Grantham Town scrapped it out to defeat lowly Stafford Rangers and register another valuable three points which edged them further up the table.
Referee Mr Pashley allowed the game to kick off with two of Stafford’s players still in the changing room, but Darren Bullock and Daniel Cope were soon on to the field.
It was a brisk start at a chilly Meres stadium and Grantham were stunned to concede a goal after just seven minutes. Deon Meikle gave the ball away in midfield and Stafford’s Chris Smith spotted Dan Haystead off his line and lobbed over him from all of 40 yards.
The Gingerbreads upped pressure on the Rangers goal and Michael Towey missed a golden opportunity on 17 minutes when he failed to get a shot off from the centre of the penalty area.
The home side found an equaliser a further 10 minutes on, with new striker Jordan Hempenstall dancing through the visitors’ defence, rounding keeper Jonathan Sutherland and tucking into the empty net.
Hempenstall almost doubled his tally two minutes later but lifted his shot over the bar.
At the other end, Cope looped a header just over on the half hour mark, and his 37th minute drive went the same way following a poor kick from keeper Haystead.
The last real action of the half saw Greg Smith attempt to shoot in from an extremely acute angle at the near post, but Stafford keeper Sutherland caught with confidence.
Grantham’s Paul Lister and Jack McGovern had chances early in the second half but the home side found themselves trailing for a second time with 10 minutes played. Rangers caught Town on the break and Saul Henderson was in the right place to get a touch on a squared ball across the face of goal and poked home.
But the Gingerbreads wasted little time in posting a reply. Two minutes later, Lee Potts won a corner kick, on to which Michael Jacklin headed deftly over Sutherland and into the back of the net.
Sitting back, Stafford appeared to be happy to settle for a point and let Grantham come at them, although Haystead was forced to tip a cross-cum-shot wide in the 59th minute and watch Matthew Berkeley miss a sitter 10 minutes later.
Hempenstall scuffed a strike wide and McGovern was denied by Sutherland as Town chased a third goal. Jacklin’s 82nd minute ball into the box turned into an on-target effort but Sutherland was there to catch.
The Gingerbreads scored a deserved winner three minutes later. McGovern’s 25-yard free kick found Lister who headed in with aplomb from the centre of the penalty area.
As the clock ticked down and into four minutes of added time, Grantham had further opportunities through substitutes Paul Grimes and Rhys Lewis.
Town’s final attempt on goal saw Hempenstall try to walk the ball in for a second time, but Sutherland bravely snatched the ball from his feet.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe, Jacklin, Meikle, Lister (c), McGovern, Walker (Lewis,70), Towey, Hempenstall, Smith (Grimes, 76), Potts (King, 88). Subs not used: Hawes, Ridley. Att: 138.