Liam Hardy header gives Grantham Town narrow victory over Spalding United at The Meres
Report by Graham Cowell
Grantham Town 1, Spalding United 0
Martin McIntosh finally got to take charge of a game at the Meres six months after taking the Grantham job.
His side duly recorded a narrow win in good style. Although only one goal separated the two sides at the end of the game, Grantham should have won by more.
“We put in lots of good balls into the area tonight.” said McIntosh. “Perhaps on another night we would have scored more, but it was encouraging all round. We were solid all round.”
With his squad already restricted due to absence and suspension, the last thing the Gingerbreads boss wanted was an injury to add to his headaches, but James Berrett picked up a knock after only four minutes and had to come off.
Spalding started well, with two early chances, Spencer Weir-Daley almost getting on the end of an early move while Jan Budtz snuffed out the danger from a free kick a couple of minutes later.
Grantham began to control the centre of the field and look dangerous down both flanks. They took the lead on 18 minutes when a free kick was crossed back into the penalty area and Liam Hardy got on the end of it to nod into the net.
Hardy caused the Spalding defence problems all night with some sharp runs and delivered a good cross for Alistair Taylor just before the half hour mark, however, the winger couldn’t get his shot away. The Gingerbreads kept the pressure up, from a corner, Ash Worsfold teed up Nathan Dyer. Dyer’s shot rattled the Spalding crossbar with Duggan beaten.
The visitors reminded Grantham they couldn’t relax too much with a quick break that took good work from Budtz and Tom Ward to rescue the situation. Dyer and Hardy combined again ten minutes from the break, Hardy heading Dyer’s cross over the top.
As the half drew to a close, Hardy was involved time and again. Ward retrieved the ball on the edge of the Spalding penalty area with eight minutes to go to the break and his cross into the six yard box only just eluded Hardy’s attempted overhead kick. A minute later, the Grantham striker made himself some space and brought a good save from Duggan. He then set up Ward, but Spalding blocked his effort. Taylor’s follow-up cross was just too long for everyone.
Hardy and Worsfold both had further chances to add to the Gingerbreads lead before the break. Worsfold was set up by good wing play, but fired his effort over the Spalding crossbar. Worsfold then crossed for Hardy, but his effort was blocked after good recovery work by the visitors defence.
The second half was more even in terms of possession, but it was still Grantham who looked the more dangerous side. Hardy peeled off the Spalding defence on 54 minutes, but his shot was blocked by Spalding substitute goalkeeper Smith. Smith then only just held onto Worsfold’s back-heel after Dyer delivered a great low cross into the Spalding six yard box.
The visitors defence was opened up again down their right hand side with Worsfold again receiving the ball inside the penalty area, making space, but again his shooting was off the mark.
Budtz was called into serious action for the first time on 72 minutes. Gee and Weir-Daley combined neatly on the edge of the Grantham penalty area to release Floyd. His low shot needed a smart reaction from the Grantham goalkeeper to get down quickly and take the shot cleanly.
Grantham finished strongly with Dyer setting up Remaye Campbell with ten minutes left, but Campbell fared no better than his fellow Gingerbreads strikers as he failed to hit the target. Brad Abbott and Dyer worked the ball into the visitors’ penalty area again a minute later. It was cleared to the Gingerbreads triallist on the left who saw his low shot tipped over the top in fine style by Smith. Despite forcing late corners, Grantham couldn’t add to their tally and settled for a single goal victory.