HOCKEY: Champions Grantham take Alford apart

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Lincs League East

Alford 2nd 0

Grantham 14

AFTER securing the league title last week, Grantham delivered a lethal display to dispatch a mid-table Alford side with consummate ease.

Grantham broke the deadlock when the home defence failed to clear the ball and Ben Willey showed good attacking awareness to lift a saved shot into the net from close range.

Grantham’s second came from a short corner. After the initial shot was blocked by an onrushing defender, last week’s hat trick hero Oli Philips struck a powerful shot from the top of the D which the partially unsighted keeper was unable to stop.

Down to 10 men after Benjie Groom was sent off, Grantham made the ball do the work and extended their lead when a pass into the D was gathered well by Willey, who turned and slotted the ball through the keeper’s legs.

Nick Wraith got himself on the scoresheet when he fired the ball in at the near post from 6yd out.

Grantham’s fifth came from the last play of the half. After a short corner injection from captain Mark Gray to Philips at the top of the D, a left slip-pass from midfielder Alex Clark found centre-back Jem Hill whose powerful shot could not be stopped by the player on the goal line.

Grantham were back to the full compliment of players after the break and scored again within minutes when Groom’s reverse shot found the bottom corner. Groom struck again when he evaded several defenders to calmly roll the ball in off the far post.

Wraith capped an exuberant individual display with a second goal, not unlike his first, smashed in from close range.

For the third week running, Grantham again had a hat trick hero, this time Groom finding space in the D and his sweep shot found the backboard, despite a touch from the keeper.

The next goal was rather spectacular. Defender Jem Hill picked up the ball on halfway and he ran unchallenged before hitting the ball towards goal from distance. The pass had gone slightly wide, but younger brother Will Hill’s fine first-time reverse cross-cum-shot flew straight into the top corner from an angle.

Clark planted a lovely textbook drag-flick in the top-left corner of the goal to extend the lead further. There was no let-up for Alford as Groom added his fourth. After a rare home attack was dealt with calmly by Clark who passed to James Kerr on the right in space, the away team countered quickly, the ball ending up with Willey who cut back for Groom to finish.

Graham Johnson had the audacity after finding space in the D to finish with the reverse stick for his first ever goal in a 10-year Grantham career.

The work-rate continued to the final whistle, not before Groom had added another, dribbling past several players and placing the ball inside the far post.