Grantham Town crash out of FA Cup after tense replay with Stamford

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FA Cup

First round qualifying, replay

Grantham Town 2

Stamford 3

Grantham Town crashed out of the FA Cup in a replay that swung the visitors’ way after the Gingerbreads threw away a comfortable 2-0 lead.

Town started lively with Kallum Smith impressing in particular early on with a fair turn of speed and forcing a save from former Gingerbread Mario Ziccardi in the fourth minute.

Stamford caught Grantham on the break in the 12th minute but the offside flag was already up before Richard Wesley put the ball in the net.

The visitors’ defence cleared a dangerous Massiah McDonald squared ball off the line four minutes later and Deon Meikle flicked a header just over the Stamford bar in the 21st minute.

A promising Gingerbreads move on 25 minutes saw a good build-up between Kallum Smith and McDonald, before Rhys Lewis put in a good cross to Michael Towey, but his header went straight to the Stamford stopper. Three minutes later, Lewis’s header also flicked straight to Ziccardi and Greg Smith’s 30th minute downward effort was also too easy to save. Stamford’s own number nine, Jordan Smith, was guilty of the same thing a minute later at the other end.

McDonald set up a nice opportunity for Greg Smith in the 34th minute but he could not quite stretch to the deftly squared ball into the box. McDonald was brought down in the box by Richard Jones and referee Mr Richardson pointed to the spot after his assistant flagged the foul. McDonald took the spot kick, nonchalantly sending Ziccardi the wrong way in the process.

Stamford were awarded a dangerous free kick on 38 minutes but it was fired into the Town wall and cleared, and the final action of the half saw Shawn Richards’ drive rise steadily over the Grantham bar from inside the penalty area.

Early in the second half, Stamford’s Richard Wesley ran clear on to a long ball but rifled his effort over whilst still at a canter.

It did not look to be the Daniels’ night and the Gingerbreads doubled their lead three minutes after the break. McDonald set up Towey who took his time to tee up a nice curling shot inside the post.

Five minutes later, Grantham gave Shawn Richards space to drive his strike through three defenders but he dragged the ball wide of the near post.

Town missed out on an easy chance to extend their lead on 56 minutes. Once again it was McDonald as provider, squaring to Greg Smith in front of the Stamford goal, but he could not swivel and fire off a shot in the panic.

The visitors’ 58th minute free kick was cleared by the Grantham defence and the Daniels’ 63rd minute penalty appeal was waved away by Mr Richardson.

The Gingerbreads went close again to making it 3-0 after 66 minutes. Substitute Gary King fired in a great free kick from the corner of the box, forcing a tip over the bar by Ziccardi.

The tide turned in the 76th minute when, suddenly, Stamford were a different team. Wesley set up Jordan Smith who fired with aplomb past Town keeper Dan Haystead.

Richards’ bullet shot forced Haystead to tip over the bar in the 78th minute and two minutes later, the Daniels drew level. A rejuvenated Stamford sliced through the Gingerbreads like a hot knife through butter when Ryan Robbins ran amok and crossed for Wesley who made no mistake.

There were chances for both sides in a final, anxious 10 minutes, Greg Smith and substitute Paulo Pilierio going close for the home side.

The tension became palpable as the referee refused to blow his whistle for time. With extra time and the prospect of penalties on everyone’s minds, Stamford broke down the right in the sixth minute of injury time. Wesley cut into the box and fired past Haystead to the delight of the travelling support, killing off Grantham’s FA Cup-run hopes for another season.

Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe, Ridley, Meikle, Lister, Lewis, Towey (Pilierio, 83), Nwadike (c), G. Smith, McDonald (King, 64), K. Smith. Subs not used: Keane, Watson, Graham, McGhee, Turner. Att: 215.