Grantham Town share the spoils in bank holiday thriller
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Grantham Town 1
Gainsborough Trinity 1
There was no shortage of excitement at Grantham Town's Boxing Day bank holiday Monday match against their Lincolnshire rivals Gainsborough Trinity at The Meres.
As is common with many local derbies, it ended with both teams taking a share of the points – but the Gingerbreads deserved much more than that after having enjoyed the majority of goal scoring opportunities throughout.
A grey and dismal day greeted the players and the largest crowd seen at The Meres all season, with swirling rain driving down the pitch all game long.
A brisk start was an indication of how the match would be contested, Gainsborough having the first chance in the fourth minute when Joe Parkin curled a free kick wide of the left hand post from the edge of the box.
Town's first opportunity of many came a minute later but Ricky Miller's cross-cum-shot went wide. Greg Smith was unable to get a shot off in the ninth minute and the impressive Ali Adeymir fired wide two minutes later.
Grantham began to dominate and had another chance on 16 minutes from a well-worked free kick, Miller the recipient but he had his shot denied by a last ditch sliding tackle to clear the ball.
The Gingerbreads thought they had the opener through Miller again in the 24th minute, but his drive came off the inside of the bar and bounced back into play.
Three minutes later, at the other end, Trinity had a 25-yard free kick curl just wide of the right hand post, past outstretched Town goalkeeper Jim Pollard.
Grantham got their deserved opener on 31 minutes when a 30-yard free kick found Jonathan Wafula who powered in his header to the elation of the Meres faithful.
The visitors had a chance to make amends just two minutes later but Bradley Grayson missed an absolute sitter.
The Gingerbreads came under pressure in the 37th minute. Elicha Ahui's header from a Cieron Keane corner kick was cleared off the goal line. Parkin's follow-up effort was tipped away by Pollard.
The unrelenting pace continued after the half time break and home side had the first promising move, but Greg Smith and Adeymir's plan was halted by an offside flag.
Grantham's defence charged down Declan Bacon's 51st minute shot at the expense of a corner kick, resulting in another clearance off the line in a goalmouth scramble.
The Gingerbreads tested Trinity keeper Matt Yates two minutes later, Shane Clarke's cross-cum-shot being caught by the visitors' stopper. Adeymir's 56th minute curler forced a diving save to prevent Town doubling their lead.
And a minutes later, Smith pirouetted and struck a half-volley goalwards which again brought a vital save from the Gainsborough custodian.
At the other end, on 62 minutes, Pollard proved he was equal to Keane's 30-yard free kick, catching high in an overcrowded box.
Sixty-seventh minute Grantham substitute Lee Shaw had a chance three minutes later, but scuffed his shot on the slick surface, following a good long ball from Smith.
Smith conceded a corner kick in the 74th minute but Pollard saved his blushes by gathering safely in yet another goalmouth scramble.
The Gingerbreads were wary about challenging Trinity sub Jovon Makama, who danced into the box unchallenged in the 83rd minute, and paid the price when he fired into the back of the net to level the scores.
Suddenly, Gainsborough had their tails up and could sniff blood, going close a minute later when Bacon put a ball through to the danger area, but the resulting shot was charged down by the Grantham defence.
Town were not done trying themselves, Shaw having the best opportunity to perhaps snatch the win in the 88th minute but, one-on-one with the keeper after a good knock-on from Smith, his attempted lob was caught high above Yates's head.
The match-long tension was not relieved when referee Mr Jackson added on a minimum of five minutes, which turned out to be nearer eight, but the two sides were unable to give their respective supporters the ending they so yearned.
Grantham Town: Pollard, Adeymir, Grant, Clarke, Cook, Williamson (c), Miller (Shaw 67), Shrimpson, Smith, Wafula (Diakiesse 78), Orlando-Young (Unwin 68). Subs not used: Adebayo, Ofoegbu. Att: 429.