Northern Premier League
Stafford Rangers 2
Grantham Town 2
The Gingerbreads once again served up an entertaining 90 minutes of football away from the Meres. A never say die attitude and willingness to keep going to the final whistle earned Grantham a deserved point at Stafford.
But the game did not start well for Town and there were only seven minutes on the clock when they went behind. Sean Kinsella delivered a good cross and Darren Bullock headed home for the hosts.
Grantham began to exert some pressure of their own. From a corner, Kallum Smith had a free header but only found Stafford goalkeeper Jon Brain. The game swung back to the home side as Dan Haystead denied McCarthy and then Adie Hawes cleared off the line from Bullock.
A period of pressure from the Gingerbreads midway through the first half was well defended by Stafford. Set plays constantly provided a threat and Michael Towey went close, but headed across the face of goal from an Ash Burbeary free kick.
After having the home side under pressure, Grantham went further behind just before half time. With only two minutes to go before the break, Alex Steadman got away down the Grantham right and cut in to shoot past Haystead. It could have been worse for the Gingerbreads as Steadman had the chance to add a third goal for Stafford. This time Sam Purcicoe was there to clear off the line.
It was Steadman again who caused Grantham early problems in the second half. First he dragged his shot across the face of goal, then picked up a crossfield pass from McCarthy, but was unable to make the most of the chance.
As Town settled into the second half, they began to dominate the game. Brain was worked hard as he kept out efforts from Kallum Smith and Massiah McDonald with a double save as the visitors went close to reducing the deficit. Stafford full back Ollie Davies made a good challenge to deny Rhys Lewis as his run threatened to open up the home defence.
Hawes went close three times in a minute as Grantham kept up the pressure. Brain made two saves to deny the centre half, then he saw Davies block on the line after a goalmouth scramble. Deon Meikle forced another save from Brain, Lewis almost got onto a loose ball in the Stafford penalty area, and Jamie McGhee headed wide before the Gingerbreads eventually got the goal their pressure warranted.
Hawes headed home at the back post for his second goal in as many games with 11 minutes still to go. Stafford keeper Brain did not deal with a good corner from Burbeary and Hawes made the most of his chance.
As the game went into injury time, Stafford tried to run the clock down with delaying tactics and tempers frayed. It all boiled over as Chris Flynn tried to stop Burbeary taking a throw-in deep in injury time. Burbeary barged Flynn into the advertising hoardings and was shown a red card by Mr Plowright.
Grantham got their equaliser straight away as Hawes launched a long throw into the home side’s penalty area and Greg Smith nodded in at the back post.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe (King, 73), Ridley, Meikle, Hawes, Towey, Burbeary, Lewis, G. Smith, McDonald (McGhee, 56), K. Smith (Graham, 78). Subs not used: Lister, Piliero. Att: 340.
+ The Gingerbreads are back in action at The Meres on Saturday when they take on old rivals Ilkeston. Kick-off is 3pm.