Northern Premier League
Nantwich Town 1
Grantham Town 1
Grantham and Nantwich put on a game that was anything but a dull end of season fixture.
Goalkeeping mistakes, good saves, missed penalties and a late sending off combined to give the crowd good entertainment on the last day of the season.
Both sides showed attacking intent from the kick-off. In the seventh minute, a Jack McGovern free kick fell to Jordan Hempenstall but he shot over the top. A couple of minutes later, a run at the Gingerbreads defence from Ben Deegan led to Harry Clayton curling a shot just wide.
A few minutes later, when keeper Dan Haystead dallied over clearing the ball, Aaron Burns chased down his clearance. Grantham looked in trouble but Haystead recovered the situation.
The two sides began to cancel each other out in midfield and, with the defences being tough to break down, there were few chances. It took a mistake by Haystead and Paul Lister to give Nantwich the opening goal. Haystead came out to the edge of his penalty area to clear a long kick from opposite number Steven James. Lister chased back only to tangle with his own goalkeeper and present the ball on a plate to Deegan who rolled it into the empty net.
Eight minutes before half time, it was James’s turn to give a golden chance to the opposition. His punch to clear Paul Grimes’s cross lacked distance and fell to Lee Potts. Potts took a touch and then fired past two covering defenders to level the game.
Another error by Haystead almost sent Grantham in a goal behind at half time. A poor kick from out wide landed at the feet of Clayton just inside the Grantham half, with Haystead well out of his goal. The Nantwich winger chose to play the ball rather than shoot and Grantham breathed a sigh of relief.
For the first 20 minutes of the second half, the game seemed to be drifting to a flat end of season affair. A series of half chances were spurned with weak shots and headers from both sides which failed to trouble either goalkeeper. However, with just under 15 minutes to go, the game got some life back into it.
McGovern fed a neat pass to Grimes in the Nantwich penalty area. His turn was too quick for Andy Pearson who tripped him giving referee Mr Simpson an easy decision to award a penalty. Grimes hit it low to James’s right but the Nantwich keeper got down well to turn the ball over his crossbar.
Straight away, the home side had a great chance to take the lead themselves. Deegan broke clear and curled a shot round Haystead that came back off the post. Andy White picked up the loose ball and Haystead made a good save to keep Nantwich out.
Haystead continued to be heavily involved, first saving Deegan’s shot then recovering to deny Burns. The Grantham goalkeeper then got booked for protesting too much that Grantham should have had a goal kick rather than Nantwich a corner. A minute later, he made a great save from an Alex Meaney free kick, but continued arguing with Mr Simpson and was shown a second yellow card and sent off.
With McGovern going in goal and Grantham down to 10 men, Nantwich pushed forward for a winner. McGovern did well to block shots from Mark Jones and Deegan, but it was not all Nantwich.
Grimes forced a good save from James before the Nantwich goalkeeper ensured a point apiece in the last minute of injury time. Gary King was released from the halfway line and closed in on goal. He let fly from just inside the Nantwich penalty area, but was denied by a flying save from James.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Purcicoe, Jacklin, Hawes, Lister, Lewis, Walker (King, 73), McGovern, Grimes, Hempenstall (Smith, 61), Potts. Subs not used: Meikle, Ridley, Towey.