Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 7
Rushall Olympic 1
Grantham Town completed the double in style over one of their former bogey sides at The Meres on Tuesday night.
Five goals in the first half and two after the break added up to what is believed to be a stadium record for the Gingerbreads.
The writing looked to be on the wall for the Pics in the opening minutes, with Lee Shaw having a couple of early chances and Rushall keeper Jonathan Brown being brought into action to twice deny Andrew Wright – who would prove to be rampant on the night.
The seemingly inevitable first goal came in the ninth minute when Jordan Hempenstall beat the offside trap, latching on to a long kick from his keeper Kieran Preston and slotting in past Brown with his left foot.
Grantham doubled their lead in the 15th minute after Wright was fouled in the box. Wright brushed himself down before thrashing the ball in from the penalty spot.
The visitors were not defeated yet and pulled a goal back three minutes later. Kailan Gould got on the end of a long ball, catching out the Town defence and firing in a left-footed shot that just evaded Preston’s outstretched glove and went in off the far post.
The Gingerbreads continued to bombard Olympic with wave after wave of attacks, although the Pics went close to equalising in the 28th minute when Dominic Dell shot wide from a quick counter-attack.
Town restored their two-goal cushion in the 31st minute after a foul on Lee Shaw. Oliver Luto swung his acute-angled left-footed free kick deep into the six-yard box, over everyone’s head and into the back of the net.
Rhys Lewis headed over the Rushall net in the 38th minute, a minute before Grantham made it 4-1. Hempenstall was quick to react to a Lee Shaw ball in to the front of the penalty area where he swivelled and fired goalwards, the ball being helped into the net by Wright.
The Gingerbreads scored a fifth time on the stroke of half time following a trip on Luke Shaw. Luto launched the free kick in to Lewis who cut the ball back to Michael Hollingsworth who deftly struck into the back of the net from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Grantham resumed the onslaught after the break with a fine effort from Wright who danced into the box. The keeper forced him wide of the goal, but Wright calmly back-heeled the ball into the net for 6-1 to complete his hat trick, with the now prone Brown helplessly stranded.
Brown made amends somewhat for the Pics a minute later when he denied Lee Shaw and then a close range Wright strike.
Danny Meadows missed the opportunity to match Town’s goal tally to the number on the back of his shirt, missing a sitter on 63 minutes, whilst substitute Tom Curtis fired straight into Brown’s arms from a squared Lee Shaw ball three minutes later.
Another, potentially record-breaking goal seemed tantalisingly unlikely as the second half wore on, but The Meres faithful were rewarded with number seven in the 70th minute.
Curtis was fouled at the side of the Rushall penalty area. A terrific free kick saw Luto step up again and curl the ball over everyone with his left foot, the ball thumping in under the bar past Brown’s outstretched hand.
Grantham sub Curtis Burrows’ 73rd minute shot was saved on the line and was the home side’s real last concerted effort, whilst Rushall had a chance to redeem themselves slightly in the 80th minute following a lapse in Town’s back line, but sub Charlie Duke missed an absolute sitter to the jeers of the joyful Gingerbreads supporters who went home with the broadest of smiles.
Grantham Town: Preston, Potts, Luto, Baker, Lewis, Hollingsworth, Meadows, Wright (Curtis 59), Hempenstall, Lee Shaw (McMenemy 67), Luke Shaw (Burrows 56). Subs not used: Da Silva Bastos, Martin. Att: 186.