Grantham Town 2
Mansfield Town 1
A lively encounter at The Meres between the Gingerbreads and the Stags saw the home side come out on top on Thursday night.
The difference on the scoresheet was only a single goal and does not reflect Grantham’s dominance throughout in what was a good workout for both sides.
It was a frenetic start to the game and the pace rarely relented in a highly competitive 90 minutes against an admittedly youthful looking Mansfield.
Newly signed former Harrowby United foward Lee Shaw impressed and had the Gingerbreads’ first chance on goal in the eighth minute, but he directed his shot over the bar.
Grantham had a penalty shout two minutes later when Liam Read was brought down in the box, but the referee showed little interest in the home side’s appeals.
Mansfield had a rare chance on goal in the 12th minute, but Anthony Dwyer was not quick enough to make contact with Drew Gibson’s cross to the far post.
The Gingerbreads went in front on 21 minutes when Gio Carchedi pounced on a Mansfield defensive error, swiftly rounded keeper Sam Wilson and fired home.
Grantham had an opportunity to double their lead two minutes later. Read put a good ball through to Shaw who set off on a run in on goal. He had time to stop and place his shot low and wide of Wilson’s reach, but the ball just bobbled past the far post, to the dismay of Shaw.
The same two players were involved again two minutes later. Read was clear through on goal but Wilson blocked his effort, with Shaw just unable to get to the rebound.
The Gingerbreads had several further chances go awry as the half wore on but, against the run of play, it was the Stags who were next to score. Five minutes before half time, Grantham goalie Jake Turner and his defence were caught unawares when Chris Spencer fired in from 25 yards.
A minute later, Carchedi forced a good high catch from Wilson and, with seconds of the half remaining, Shaw’s cross-cum-shot was blocked on the line by Connor Green.
Grantham went into the break on level terms but they had won the half as regards possession, pace and intent all around the pitch.
Despite changes made on both sides, the second half blended seamlessly into the first, with the Gingerbreads still generally in the ascendancy, keeping a good shape and trying to play a neat passing game on the ground.
Shaw set up Read in the 53rd minute but he fired over the bar as the floodlights began to glimmer into life.
Grantham had a couple of other chances, including another Shaw cross-cum-shot that forced Wilson to punch the ball out for a corner kick at the near post.
The Gingerbreads got the reward for their efforts in the 72nd minute when they caught Mansfield on the break, with Stefan Bilyk blasting in from close range and the Stags defence in disarray.
Bilyk went close again four minutes later but Wilson was able to react quickly to catch his point blank flick towards goal.
Grantham came under the most pressure they had endured all match in the 90th minute when they were forced to defend four successive corner kicks, from the last of which Turner made an excellent reaction save to block Drew Gibson’s close range volley, guaranteeing victory as the referee blew a final time.
Grantham Town: Turner, Gorman, Storey, Hollingsworth, Humble, Lewis, Meadows, Carchedi, Shaw, Read, Emmott. Subs: McGowan, Beeson, Kirby, Bilyk, Wakeling, Farmer.