Grantham Town share New Year’s Day points with rivals Stamford

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Northern Premier League

Premier Division

Gingerbreads defender Deon Meikle (right) fights out the aerial battle with a Stamford forward. Photo: 924D

Gingerbreads defender Deon Meikle (right) fights out the aerial battle with a Stamford forward. Photo: 924D

Grantham Town 1

Stamford 1

Grantham and Stamford fought hard against a strong wind and driving rain to put on an entertaining match for the hardy soul who made it to The Meres.

Brisk work by club officials with forks to clear standing water from the pitch ensured the game went ahead.

Grantham created two early chances that could have given them an early lead. After nine minutes, Lee Ridley put the ball back into the danger zone after a corner. Michael Towey’s header found Ash Burbeary who beat his defender and Stamford goalkeeper Alexander Lynch, only for his shot to come back off the post.

Ridley and Burbeary then combined with Greg Smith to cross for Towey. He turned sharply, but was robbed by the Stamford defence. Lynch just beat McGhee to the loose ball.

Stamford showed some patience when they had the ball and almost unlocked the Gingerbreads defence as Jordan Smith and Richards combined well. Paul Lister defended one chance well, while the other was stopped by an offside flag.

After 17 minutes, Grantham took the lead. The Gingerbreads had forced three corners in quick succession. Burbeary’s delivery troubled the Stamford defence and when he whipped a flag kick in to the near post, Greg Smith and Michael Towey both went up for the header – but neither got a touch as the ball flew into the top corner of the net.

The conditions meant it was all Grantham in the first half. McGhee and Towey went close before Burbeary got in on the act again. A low drive brought a good save from Lynch.

Stamford had a spell of pressure midway through the first half, but the Gingerbreads defence was solid. Alton Rennalls cleared a cross from Jordan Smith, and then Lister and Haystead cleared the danger posed by Richards.

Jordan Smith got a bounce in his favour 30 yards out and ran past Lister. The Grantham defender recovered well enough to force Smith to stretch for his shot. The ball rolled past Haystead and just past the outside of his left hand post.

Greg Smith should have done better for the Gingerbreads as the half hour approached. Ridley delivered a deep cross and Smith pulled away from his defender to give himself a free header from six yards out, but put the chance wide.

Burbeary and Towey then put together a good move with McGhee, but Lynch made a good save to keep the latter’s effort out.

As half time approached, Lynch kept Stamford in the hunt again with a good save, standing up well as Greg Smith closed in on goal.

After the break, Stamford were straight on to the attack. Nabil Shariff got through the Grantham defence, but Haystead did well to deny him. Lister cleared away from Richards and from the corner, the Gingerbreads cleared off the line. Richard Jones won the header and Jon Challinor hit his shot well, but could not find a way past the Grantham defence.

With 57 minutes gone, Gary King almost set up Greg Smith to make the game safe. King delivered a great cross that flashed just in front of Smith.

Stamford began to turn the screw. On 65 minutes, a great challenge from Rennalls stopped Shariff, before Ryan Robbins picked up the loose ball and delivered a low cross. Richards had the ball in the net, but again an offside flag denied the visitors.

There was no doubt about the Daniels’ equaliser. Richards comfortably beat Ridley for pace and delivered a good cross. Jordan Smith had an easy header from just inside the six yard box to level scores.

Although Stamford had the wind in their favour, it was the Gingerbreads who reacted best to the goal. Stamford were kept at arm’s length and the Gingerbreads went closest to snatching a winner. McGhee curled a free kick behind the Stamford defence that only just eluded Jamie Jackson and flashed across the Stamford six yard box.

A similar cross at the other end had the same effect in the Grantham six yard box as both sides settled for the point.

Grantham Town: Haystead, Rennalls (Lewis, 73), Ridley, Meikle, Lister, Foster, Dixon, Towey, G. Smith (Jackson, 78), McGhee, Burbeary (King, 48). Subs not used: K. Smith, Cotterill. Att: 234.