Grantham Town 1
Leek Town 2
Grantham Town’s final pre-season friendly ended disappointingly, with all three goals coming in the last 10 minutes.
In what was admittedly a scrappy game, the Gingerbreads dominated the first half, whereas the second period was more end-to-end and saw a slightly more cohesive Leek string some moves together, catching Grantham out on the break twice to find the back of the net.
The game began steadier than of late as the players acclimatised themselves to a unususally muggy Meres atmosphere, with the sun beaming down and only a slight breeze to add any respite.
The Gingerbreads had a let-off in the eighth minute when keeper Jake Turner threw the ball out straight to Leek danger man Tim Grice who, fortunately for Grantham, fired wide.
Despite Grantham’s dominance and continual forays forward, it was the visitors who went close again on 16 minutes, with Dan Shelley’s free kick curling slowly goalward before skimming off the bar.
The Gingerbreads had chances through Michael Emmott, who blasted over, and Courtney Meade whose shot from distance was just stopped on the line by Leek keeper Chris Martin.
Both sides had several more opportunities on goal, Grantham’s best coming in the 38th minute when Jack Beckett’s close range effort forced Martin to tip the ball round the post.
With a minute remaining till the break, Turner kept the home side level when he pulled off a spectacular diving save to an equally spendid half-volley from outside the box.
Grantham’s first sniff at goal after the break came five minutes in when Meade’s cross found Danny Meadows. But his downward header bounced straight into the arms of Martin.
Shelley had another free kick for the visitors a minute later and, once again, he curled around the wall, but Turner anticipated well and managed to catch the difficult ball.
Strong throughout, Gingerbread Michael Hollingsworth had a go from 25 yards but was slightly over ambitious, whilst substitute Rhys Lewis fired well on target but a defender charged the ball down.
Turner did well to tip a goalbound header away at full stretch whilst under pressure on 70 minutes and, at the other end, Martin caught Liam Read’s squared ball from the corner flag.
Leek got the breakthrough in the 37th minute when Ryan Grocott broke away, ran in goalwards and fired in from the edge of the box past a rooted Turner.
Grantham went two down three minutes later. Caught on the break again, Nathan Whitehead raced down the right and powered in majestically over Turner from an acute angle.
The Gingerbreads scored a consolation goal with a minute left on the clock, substitute Stefan Bilyk heading over substitute keeper Alex Langridge and into the back of the net, after he got on the end of a decent cross.
Despite referee Mr Beswick allowing a couple more minutes of play, Grantham had to settle for defeat in their final match before the season kicks off for real at Hyde United next Saturday.
Grantham Town: Turner, Gorman, Storey, Hollingsworth, Humble, Beeson, Meadows, Beckett, Meade, Read, Emmott. Subs: Farmer, McGowan, Lewis, Bilyk, Martins.