FOOTBALL: Sunday league shield quarter-final had to be won by Nobody
Arion Grantham & District Sunday League
Co-Op Funeralcare Charity Shield
Nobody Inn Athletic 2
Nobody Inn Athletic Reserves 1
Nobody Inn Athletic, the only side in Grantham to have both a first and reserve team set-up met each other for the fourth time in three seasons.
Both teams were on a decent run of form with the first team beating the league leaders last week and the reserves having already booked their place in a semi-final earlier in the month.
The first team started brighter and moved the ball round the midfield well with Lewis Kettle and Sam Tasker seeing a lot of the ball. The reserves defence got pushed back and were very lucky not to go behind when some pinball in the box fell to Tasker whose shot hit Fabio Gramaca and went narrowly wide.
They almost made the breakthrough shortly after as a Huitson header from a pinpoint corner was cleared off the line by Ryan Benbow.
The first team were now in the ascendancy but couldn’t find the breakthrough until a ball into the box was flicked on by a reserves player and Martin Nickerson stooped low to head home from close range.
The first team defence looked solid and rarely came under threat with Ricky Mills commanding from the back. Matt Walton and Luke Martin both looked solid and also offered a threat pushing forward.
More chances came for the 1st team but they were unable to double their advantage as the reserves struggled to get out of their own half and relied heavily on the long ball approach in order to relieve the pressure.
The second half saw a change in fortunes as a big tackle from Liam Probert at the start of the half seemed to wake the reserves up. Thomas Power and Thomas Jackson both came on to add some width as the reserves pushed for an equaliser.
Carl Jackson and Steve Johnson worked tirelessly to defend the lead from unfamiliar full back positions.
The turning point came when Toby Hafter-Smith made man-of-the match Brad Curry pull off a top drawer save, plucking his first time volley out of the top corner. The firsts team cleared the corner forward and a defensive mistake saw Marmy add his second of the game as he smashed home past Luke Harley.
The first team rang the changes as the reserves pushed to get back into the game. Kenny Doll worked tirelessly for 90 minutes and it was his ball to Dylan Grocock with 15 minutes to go that gave the reserves a lifeline, as Dylan slotted past Curry to make it 2-1, a goal which the reserve thoroughly deserved.
The reserves began to press for an equaliser but the firsts put bodies on the line to see the game out, with some heroic blocking from Tasker and Mills towards the end.
Nobody Inn: Curry, Martin, Mills (c) Walton, Johnson, Kettle, Short, Tasker, Jackson, Nickerson, Huitson, Briggs, Hessom, J. Knight, S. Knight, Harrison.
Nobody Inn Res: Harley, Gramaca, J. Grocock, Bristow, Kitchen, Probert, Hafter-Smith, Payne, Benbow, D. Grocock, Doll. Subs: Power, Jackson, Dixon, Cadman, Walters.
FC Genes 1
Helpringham Rovers 3
The small village football team of Helpringham Rovers grew a bit in stature in Grantham Sunday Football.
Helpringham’s task was to take on the might of FC Genes, last year’s County Cup finalists and this season’s quarter-finalists.
Rovers could only muster 11 outfield players with both registered keepers being unavailable, and Matt Warrington, usually a midfielder, went in goal.
FC Genes started the brighter and created a host of opportunities to score but the defence was marshalled superbly by Cox and Lambert. Rovers offered only counter-attack football and Tom Robinson on two separate occasions just went wide.
On 35 minutes, with Rovers defending deep but resolutely, Lambert at the heart of the defence injured his knee trying to clear the ball. Rather than bring him off, Rovers’ manager stuck him in goal hoping he would make it to half time.
This switch seemed to inspire FC Genes and on 37 minutes Owen Sheridan scrambled the ball past the despairing Lambert to give Genes a 1-0 advantage. This lead could have been doubled within minutes were it not for some good saves from Lambert.
Warrington replaced Lambert in goal after half time but again Genes started brightly, however, they couldn’t break down the stubborn defensive work of the midfield quartet and back four.
On 55 minutes, Robinson cut in from the left and drove his shot from 20 yards past the hapless Copley in the Genes goal. Within six minutes, Rovers shocked Genes when Robinson won the ball deep in the 18 yard box and his acute shot from the by-line somehow managed to find the back of the net.
For the remainder of the match, Genes pressed and pressed and some excellent goalkeeping by Warrington made it a tense last couple of minutes, but Genes just couldn’t breach the goal again.
Two minutes of injury time were added by referee Sharrock and with one of these gone, Rovers were awarded a free kick at the touchline adjacent to the penalty area in the Genes half. Up stepped Wattam to hit a hopeful deep cross under the bar which Copley flapped at for him to turn and see the ball hit the back of the net and give Rovers an unlikely 3-1 win to progress to the semi-finals.
Helpringham Rovers: Warrington, Sellars, Cox, Lambert, Wiggins, Atkins, Broughton, Flintham, Robinson, Stone, Wattam.