Grantham Town triumph in wind-affected seven goal thriller

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Northern Premier League

Premier Division

Grantham Town

Grantham Town

Grantham Town 4

Trafford 3

A strong wind down the pitch at The Meres dictated a game that was literally of two halves.

With the gale at their backs in the first half, Grantham were the only team in it for the first 45 minutes and went into half time 4-0 up.

The Gingerbreads looked lively and confident from the kick-off and were lining up to take shots early on, with Alex Simmons, Jordan Hempenstall and Ben Fairclough all having decent chances on goal.

Completely against the run of play, Trafford had the ball in the back of the net in the 14th minute, but Town were saved by the linesman’s offside flag.

Following a couple more chances, the Gingerbreads finally got the reward their efforts warranted after 20 minutes when Connor Johnson ran into the Trafford box and flicked the ball on to Scott Hellewell who fired into the back of the net.

Town doubled their lead two minutes with Rhys Lewis bundling the ball in from a corner kick.

The Gingerbreads had the ball in the Trafford net a third time on 25 minutes, but this time the linesman’s offside flag came to the visitors’ aid.

Three minutes later, the home side were awarded a free kick 25 yards out after Hempenstall was fouled. The Grantham number 10 dusted himself down and stepped up to fire in a cracking effort that, to Trafford’s relief, struck the underside of the crossbar before bouncing clear.

Grantham did go 3-0 up on 33 minutes. Fairclough whipped in a cross and fellow front man Hempenstall headed in with aplomb.

Again two minutes later, the home side added a fourth. Hempenstall’s long ball put Alex Simmons through one-on-one with Trafford keeper Ed Wilczynski, past whom he slotted the ball into the net.

Trafford took immediate advantage of the tailwind after the break and pulled a goal back from a Will Ahern header three minutes into the second half.

The Gingerbreads had an opportunity to cancel the visitors’ goal out when they were awarded a penalty for handball in the 62nd minute. Danny Meadows stepped up to the spot and fired to his left, but Wilczynski guessed correctly and got a strong hand to the ball.

Sam Purcicoe cleared a shot off the Grantham goal-line before Trafford wrested it back to 4-2 in the 66th minute. A sublime Shelton Payne curling free kick from the edge of the penalty area whipped around the Grantham wall and past the outstretched arm of keeper Dan Haystead.

Town had further goal scoring chances through Hempenstall and Simmons, and the visitors went close at the other end but Nia Bayunu’s 89th minute backwards header from a long free kick went straight into Haystead’s arms.

Referee Mr Hutchinson signalled six minutes of added time and in the fifth of those, Trafford scored a third time, this one through Michael Oates.

It made for a tense last couple of minutes but the Gingerbreads held out for a well deserved three points and a confidence boosting victory.

Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe, Kelly, Batchelor, Hellewell, Meadows, Lewis, Johnson, Hempenstall, Fairclough (Grundy), 76). Subs not used: Grimes, Bilyk, Foster, Diver. Att: 180.