CHAMPIONS: Town follow up title triumph with victory over Stamford

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Stamford 1 V 3 Grantham Town

Although it might have been expected that celebration could have taken their toll on Grantham, the Gingerbreads recorded a pretty comfortable win over local rivals Stamford. Despite changes to the side, it was business as usual for Grantham.

The opening fifteen minutes were very cagey. Neither side imposed themselves on the game and neither created many chances. Stamford survived a scare when a punch from goalkeeper Ross Whalin which lacked power fell to Damien Magee both he and Sean Cann had their shots blocked before the home side cleared their lines.

Jamie McGhee laid a nice pass for Cann after 17 minutes and the Grantham striker ran at Dean Whiley. The Stamford defender deflected his shot for a corner. McGhee took the flag kick and floated the ball to the far post over Whalin and the defender on the post into the net to give Grantham the lead.

Stamford lifted their game immediately and Rob Murray was forced to concede a corner. Midway through the half, a poor goal kick from Murray fell to Bruno Holden who slipped the ball through for Scott Mooney. Sam Saunders did well to recover and clear the danger.

Robbie Maddox and Whiley combined just before the half hour mark to deliver a far post cross. Holden and Mooney both challenged for the ball and it looped comfortably back across goal for Murray to collect. The better chances continued to fall for the home side. Nathan Watson and Joe Pheasant won the ball on the Grantham right and put a cross in for Jared Holmes. His overhead kick flew over the top of the Gingerbread crossbar.

The end of the first half was all Grantham. A long ball for McGhee to chase was misjudged by Whalin, but the Stamford goalkeeper recovered in time to deny McGhee. Five minutes before the break, Martin Ball picked up a loose ball 22 yards out and drove a low shot a yard wide of the target.

Three minutes before the break, Grantham added a second goal. Ball drove a free kick in to the near post. Tony Battersby got a touch on it and directed his header into the corner of the net.

Similar to the first half, the second opened quietly. For the first twenty minutes, neither goalkeeper was stretched. Murray easily took a free kick from Watson, and then Holden shot wide after working hard to get the ball back.

The Gingerbreads stretched their lead on 65 minutes. Neat football saw Battersby play the ball wide to Sam Purcicoe. He squared it inside for Cann who drove at the Stamford defence and drilled a low shot past an immobile Whalin. A minute later, Grantham passed their way through the Stamford defence once more. This time Ball missed the target with his shot.

The Gingerbreads were comfortably on top of the game, but Stamford defended well and got a foot in at the right moment to keep Grantham at bay. Substitute Nick Ghislanzoni pulled a goal back 14 minutes from the end. Mooney reacted quickest to a poor Murray goal kick and played a pass for Ghislanzoni. The striker ran on to slip the ball past Murray to score.

Murray redeemed himself a few minutes later, reacting well to gather a free kick driven into the near post. Grantham then finished strongly and could have extended their lead again. Lee Potts and McGhee combined well to open up the Stamford defence with ten minutes left. Potts’ initial shot was blocked, but the ball fell back to McGhee. His cross was met by Ben Saunders who was denied by a superb save from Whalin. The Stamford goalkeeper then reacted quickly to save again from Potts.

Ben Saunders and Potts caused problems for the home defence again a couple of minutes later. Potts played a pass along the Stamford 18 yard line. Rhys Lewis stepped over the ball for Ben Saunders, but his shot lacked power. After good defending from Chris Glarvey denied Stamford at the expense of a corner, Grantham broke quickly. They had the Stamford defence outnumbered 4 to 2, but McGhee over played the ball and the chance was lost.