THE Gingerbreads gathered their first three points of the season thanks to a late Phil Watt goal.
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Stafford Rangers 0
Grantham Town 1
Again Grantham played for half the game with 10 men after Sam Saunders was sent off, but a resilient performance in a game held up for 15 minutes in the second half while a suitable replacement for the referee was found, was enough to record the win.
Stafford took off like an express train, putting Grantham, on the back foot in the opening minute. Lee Downes cut inside to create a chance for himself, but shot wide. Grantham settled and created an early chance of their own seven minutes later. Rhys Lewis robbed the Stafford midfield and fed Paul Grimes. His 25 yard effort was well saved by Adam Alcock in the Stafford goal.
Jimmy Lindley picked out Lee Potts with a goal kick and the Grantham wing-back found Grimes. His cross bounced up a bit on Ben Saunders and his header went over the top of the Stafford crossbar.
The home side should have taken the lead on 19 minutes. Danny Quinn played a good ball down the right wing for Dean Clarke. Clarke pulled the ball back for Simon Everall but he took too many touches, allowing Lindley to recover his ground and stand well to block Everall’s shot.
As the first half wore on, Grantham got the upper hand. Stafford seemed to lose any idea of how to beat the Grantham defence while the Gingerbreads probed at the home goal. Alcock punched clear under pressure from Lewis after a good build up involving Phil Watt, Grimes, Ben Saunders and Sam Purcicoe.
Alcock made a good save to deny Potts after half an hour. Watt won the ball at the back and Grimes spread play wide to Potts whose effort was turned round the post by Alcock. The Stafford goalkeeper did well again a few minutes later. Grant Brindley powered a header out from defence and Grimes got clear of the Stafford defence. He only had Alcock to beat but the Stafford keeper did well to save again.
Five minutes from half time, Sam Saunders got his marching orders from referee Mr Clayton for a late challenge on Clarke as the ball was played down the line. The Gingerbreads re-organised, but were still at sixes and sevens, annoyed that Stafford’s Jermaine Johnson was only shown a yellow card for a similar challenge on Grimes only a few minutes earlier.
While Grantham were re-organising, Everall got through the Gingerbreads’ defence, but overplayed the chance and Lindley gathered the ball comfortably. Martin Ball went into the back line and worked hard to deny Clarke just before half time.
After the break, the same player ran through from midfield but did not deliver a final pass. A poor free kick from a dangerous position wasted another good opportunity for the home side five minutes into the second half.
When Grantham held the ball, they played some good passing movements. Stafford became frustrated after Potts, Ben Saunders and Purcicoe played the ball around.
Purcicoe was put in at the far post and tackled from behind by Johnson. Referee Mr Clayton was struggling to keep up with play by this point and only gave a corner instead of the penalty Grantham claimed.
The referee immediately withdrew from the game with an injury. Former Football League referee Andy Martin stepped off the Stafford bench to run the line for his own forwards.
Lindley kept scores level with a good save from Ryan Dicker after a good free kick into the Grantham penalty area. A punch from Lindley at the resulting corner caused a moment of panic before the Gingerbreads smuggled the ball away off the post.
Grantham dealt comfortably with what Stafford threw at them, Brindley in particular wining everything in the air and beating Danny Quinn to a ball over the top just before Grantham grabbed the winner. A free kick 25 yards out was perfectly delivered to the far post by Grimes. Watt had got beyond the Stafford defence and headed past Alcock.
The Gingerbreads had two late scares but rode their luck again three minutes from time from another Stafford corner. Brindley and Luck George challenged for the ball with it coming off Brindley, hitting the post and going away from goal. George had the final chance for the home side in injury time, but he shot wide.
Grantham Town: Lindley, Purcicoe, Potts, Brindley, S. Saunders, Watt, Lewis (Magee, 83), Ball (Jacklin, 70), Grimes, B. Saunders (McGhee, 90), Nwadike. Subs not used: Battersby, Demidh. Att: 474.