West Bridgford 6th 1
GRANTHAM Hockey Club men opened their season with a hard-fought draw at The Meres and were more than good value for a share of the spoils as they began preparations for their new season.
They started positively and early movement from Alex Clark and Tom Scotney provided space for David Nix and Paul Hollingworth, but often the final pass was lacking and neither side could grasp a firm hold on the early exchanges.
The experienced defensive unit of David McDonald, Andy Willey, John Pennington and Andy Nix kept things tight at the back and goalkeeper Will Leadenham was barely tested in the first half, although that owed as much to smart defending as it did some off-colour shooting from West Bridgford who nevertheless had a couple of gilt-edged opportunities, including a number of unconverted short corners.
Grantham took the lead when one of their only two short corners was eventually converted powerfully by David Nix. Although the initial move was intercepted, Grantham had committed so many players forward that West Bridgford were unable to clear their lines, with the result that Nix was left with a clear sight of goal and he buried the ball in the bottom corner.
Captain Mark Gray had taken a watching brief for the start of the game but he introduced himself into the fray and together with Nick Wraith and Clark, Grantham largely controlled the midfield. Grantham did show some understandable early season indiscipline with players not holding their position, but still deserved their half-time lead.
The second half saw Grantham look to hold on to the ball for longer periods and despite beginning to tire as the game wore on, they played some nice hockey with youngsters Ben Willey, Muzammil Pirwani and Alex Scotney all showing good form on and off the ball.
After excellent interplay from Clark and Hollingworth down the right, a good chance was missed and gradually West Bridgford began to work their way back into the game, earning a succession of short corners.
Despite some excellent work from Leadenham and the defence, eventually the pressure told and with the midfield struggling to get back, it was Grantham’s turn to end up overloaded and after a scramble, they were beaten.
There was limited time left for Grantham to get back into the game but if any team was looking more likely to score in the closing stages, it was the homeside, but they were unable to break through.
Grantham: Leadenham, McDonald, Willey, Pennington, Johnson, A. Nix, T. Scotney, Wraith, Gray, Clark, A. Scotney, D. Nix, Pirwani, Willey, Hollingworth, Morgan.
l Grantham Ladies begin their league season with a match at home to Alford tomorrow, while the men travel to Worksop 3rd for their final friendly.