Grantham Town joint manager Ian Robinson says he and Gary Sucharewycz now have a “settled side”.
The Gingerbreads took a point and a clean sheet from their game at Frickley Athletic on Saturday, although they exited the Doodson Sport Cup competition on Tuesday night – albeit after a battling performance against Matlock Town.
Robinson said: “We have started looking more solid at the back and look harder to beat now than a few weeks ago.
“We feel we have enough in the squad to stay in the league. Now we have a settled side, that will make a difference.”
Robinson said Tuesday had been a useful opportunity to try out different formations and even a couple of youngsters from the under-18s.
He said: “The young lads did very well against Matlock and showed that there is potential to come through the ranks. They showed they can make the step up and may well feature again before the end of the season, and certainly as we go through pre-season and into next year.”
A small but hardy crowd witnessedthe Matlock gameon a bitterly cold night at The Meres.
The biting wind kept the pace of the game high throughout, with the Gingerbreads dominating and taking the lead in the first half, until the visitors bounced back with two goals before half time.
The first 10 minutes was virtually all Grantham’s with the visitors showing nothing of note going forward.
The Gingerbreads’ pressure paid off and the home side went in front after 14 minutes. Gio Carchedi put a delightful ball through to Kallum Smith who slotted home.
Rhys Lewis’ 18th minute header went awry and at the other end, Matlock’s real first chance was a free kick from the corner of the penalty area, but it was lifted well over the bar.
The Gingerbreads harried and tussled in midfield, frustrating the visitors’ with every twist and turn. Deon Meikle cleared the danger when Matlock’s Gareth Davies delivered a dangerous cross into the home 18-yard box with 28 minutes played.
Meikle was Grantham’s saviour again two minutes later when he raced to cut out Massiah McDonald after a good ball in from Anthony Griffiths Jnr.
More delightful interplay in midfield set up Smith again, but Matlock keeper Jon Kennedy managed to smother the ball first.
The game turned when the visitors were awarded a penalty in the 35th minute after Adam Yates was fouled in the box. Bradley Grayson stepped up to level the scores.
The equaliser completely revitalised Matlock and suddenly the Gingerbreads were under the cosh. The Derbyshire side were rampant up to half time and went in front on 43 minutes when McDonald slotted into the bottom left hand corner.
Grantham’s goalmouth came under attack three times in the first minute of the second half but they managed to keep the ball out of the net.
Grayson continued to look dangerous and carved his way down the right flank on 50 minutes to deliver a beauty of a squared ball across the face of goal. Fortunately for Grantham, McDonald was unable to stretch far enough to make contact.
The visitors were awarded a free kick after Griffiths Jnr was fouled 20 yards out after 56 minutes. James Ashmore drove his effort hard and direct but Grantham keeper Jake Turner parried at the near post.
The Gingerbreads’ best chance of levelling came in the 67th minute. A flowing, incisive move saw Watson find Smith, who slotted through to Carchedi, but he stumbled under pressure in the box.
Meikle cleared from a dangerous Matlock free kick in the 78th minute and the Gingerbreads managed to tighten the reins for the remainder of the game.
Robinson praised the performance of Gio Carchedi who has been out a while with injury and on loan. Robinson said: “He is a player we need to use to ensure we get the best out of him.”