GRANTHAM Town gathered another point in their quest for the league title but were unable to add to their record-matching 12 away league wins on the trot.
The Gingerbreads came away with a valuable point against a Sutton Coldfield side that ended the game with only nine men on the pitch after a feisty game.
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Division One South
Sutton Coldfield Town 2
Grantham Town 2
Both sides started the game brightly. Sutton hit a second minute free kick into the near post that the Gingerbreads only half cleared. Scott Rickards sent a header goalward but it was comfortable for Rob Murray in the Gingerbreads goal.
A minute later, Grantham took the lead. When the ball was delivered into the Sutton penalty area, Paul Grimes saw his shot saved by Niall Cooper. Ben Saunders almost got on the end of the loose ball, but it fell for Sam Purcicoe who drove back past the Sutton goalkeeper.
Grantham failed to capitalise on their opening and Sutton got on top of the game. On 17 minutes, they had a golden opportunity to equalise. Christopher Gummery held the ball up well inside the Grantham penalty area. He drew a foul from Michael Jacklin, leaving referee Mr Husband no option but to point to the spot. Murray went the right way to beat Luke Chapman’s penalty away.
Chapman made up for his miss a minute later with an equaliser for the home side. Grantham allowed the ball to bounce and Jacklin, who had a torrid 10 minutes, failed to clear well. Chapman ran on to pick up the loose ball and fired past Murray.
The Gingerbreads defence was opened up twice by the same ball. James Quiggin slid a pass through the gap between the Grantham back line for Ben Lund on 27 minutes. Lund delivered a low cross into the Gingerbreads 6yd box, but his inviting delivery was not met by any blue shirts and Grantham cleared their lines. When the two combined again eight minutes later, Lund chose to shoot but Murray saved well.
Some desperate defending from Grantham kept scores level going into the break. Twice Martin Ball threw himself in front of shots after a Sutton corner was not cleared. Gummery flicked a header across the face of goal and wide after the break as Sutton continued to win a good percentage of headers against the Grantham defence.
A free kick conceded on 56 minutes led to the home side taking the lead. Rickards’ initial header was well saved by Murray, but he was helpless to keep out the follow up header from Jack Stone.
Gradually Grantham got back into the game. Ben Saunders won a good header and the Gingerbreads pressure almost forced Stone to head over his own goalkeeper, but Cooper got his position back and gathered the ball.
A mad two minutes from Sutton centre half Zac Costello cost his side a goal and his presence for the rest of the game. He was shown a yellow card when he conceded a free kick on 68 minutes.
Jamie McGhee’s free kick hit the underside of the Sutton crossbar and came out for Ben Saunders. His effort was cleared off the line by a desperate home side, only for Lee Potts to latch on to the loose ball and fire Grantham level.
Costello complained that Sutton should have had a free kick and his complaints were too vocal for Mr Hubbard and Costello was shown a second yellow card. Sutton assistant manager Neil Tooth was also sent to the stands after he expressed his annoyance with the referee’s decisions.
Five minutes before the goal, Grantham had made changes and went 4-4-2. McGhee began to find space against the 10 men and Grantham looked the most dangerous they had been all game.
Despite camping in the Sutton half, the Gingerbreads only won their first corner of the game on 80 minutes and struggled to test Cooper in the Sutton goal. He flapped the Gingerbreads corner away and when Grantham got a shot off, Ball only hit Grimes.
Grantham’s frustration was completed in the last minute when Rhys Lewis found Sean Cann but Cooper took his effort comfortably. Sutton finished the game with only nine men when Stone was shown his second yellow card on 90 minutes, but Grantham still could not take advantage.
Grantham Town: Murray, Purcicoe (McGhee, 65), Potts, Brindley, S. Saunders, Jacklin, Lewis, Ball, Grimes (Cann, 86), B. Saunders, Battersby (Carchedi, 65). Subs not used: Magee, Glarvey.