Play-offs ever closer as Grantham Town go fifth

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GRANTHAM Town rose to fifth in the table after once again leaving it late to take their fourth successive 2-1 victory. The win set up a decisive final game at Shepshed Dynamo on Monday, a victory in which would guarantee Grantham a play-off berth.

Evo-Stik League

Division One South

Grantham Town 2

Kidsgrove Athletic 1

The Gingerbreads had the upper hand in the first half but conceded five minutes before half time. The second half was a scrappier affair but Town drew level with two minutes remaining and scored the winner two minutes into added time.

The atmosphere was tense from the kick-off at a cauldron-like Meres with the sun blazing down, and Kidsgrove’s Wayne Johnson found himself yellow carded following a clash of heads with Gio Carchedi after just five minutes.

Sam Hall’s long throw-ins proved troublesome for Town throughout, the first one coming in the 10th minute. Grantham struggled to clear the danger and were fortunate that Aiden Matranga volleyed over the bar.

The Gingerbreads had early chances from Lee Potts, who fired well wide from 20 yards, and skipper Ben Saunders whose header was on target. The best opportunity came in the 25th minute. Jamie McGhee’s shot lacked sufficient power to really trouble Kidsgrove keeper Steve Hodgson, but Sam Purcicoe raced in ready to pounce had he made the slightest error in his stop.

Grantham’s defence displayed poise and confidence to keep Kidsgrove frustrated, while Hodgson continued to impress in the Athletic goal, always the first to any high ball into box.

Kidsgrove had a dangerous free kick on the edge of the Grantham ‘D’ in the 38th minute but it was driven straight into the home side’s wall. Two minutes later though, the visitors did go in front.

Tom Urwin slipped too easily through the Town back line and fired at goal. Rob Murray saved but fumbled the ball, allowing an easy tap in for Dave Walker.

Grantham had a couple of chances to reply in first-half added time but once again Hodgson was quick to avert any danger.

Into the second half, and the game resumed at apace with Kidsgrove looking to consolidate on their slender lead. Town had a let-off in the 57th minute after Liam Shotton evaded the Grantham defence and Murray but somehow lifted his shot over the bar from close range.

Murray saved Urwin’s quick volley five minutes later and Chris Glarvey fired a similiar effort over the Kidsgrove bar minutes later following a good build-up involving Ben Saunders and lively looking substitute Rob Norris.

A dangerous cross from Norris in the 68th minute forced Hodgson to tip the ball from danger. It only went as far Potts on the edge of the box but the Grantham number three’s shot went just wide of the mark.

Purcicoe headed a sitter wide and Norris lifted an effort over the bar from close range as a Grantham equaliser came tantalisingly closer.

Both sides began to visibily wilt somewhat in the heat but the Gingerbreads would not lie down and finally got their reward in the 88th minute. Matt Millns throw-in was punched out by Hodgson but only to Purcicoe who fired in a rocket of a half-volley from the edge of the box.

Euphoric pandemonium broke at The Meres went Grantham scored again two minutes into added time. Ben Saunder’s cross caused panic in the Kidsgrove defence. Matt Glass’s shot was blocked but Rhys Lewis latched on to the loose ball and hammered home to the delight of the elated, screaming crowd.

Grantham Town: Murray, Purcicoe, Potts, Asher, S. Saunders, Watt, Lewis, Glarvey (Millns, 79), McGhee (Norris, 63), B. Saunders, Carchedi (Glass, 75). Subs not used: Dyson, Hallcro. Att: 319.