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Missed chances cost Grantham Town at Witton Albion

Northern Premier League Premier Division

Witton Albion 3

Grantham Town 1

Grantham Town striker Craig Westcarr had goal scoring opportunities, including a penalty that was saved by the Witton keeper. (23910305)
Grantham Town striker Craig Westcarr had goal scoring opportunities, including a penalty that was saved by the Witton keeper. (23910305)

The Gingerbreads are still searching for their first away win of the season after defeat at Witton Albion, writes Graham Cowell.

Grantham took the lead and had their chances, but two goals midway through the first half, a missed penalty and a late goal left joint manager Paul Rawden frustrated again.

“We’ve lost the game in the first half by our errors.” said Rawden. “We have got experienced players who have played a lot of football, but we give the ball away too easily, we don’t track back, don’t track runners. I could go on.

"I read the riot act at half time and then we are a different team. Witton defended as they could, as a team and we didn’t play as one.”

The opening 10 minutes saw both sides create chances in an even start. After five minutes, Witton played some quick football from a long clearance. Adnan Kanuric was at his best for the Gingerbreads to deny Will Jones.

Grantham hit back with a Craig Westcarr free kick a minute later that clipped the top of the crossbar, then Witton’s Billy Smart fired wide when he intercepted Adam Smith’s attempted pass out of the box.

Twelve minutes in, Grantham opened the scoring. Connor Bartle’s cross was met by Brad McGowan. His header took a deflection as it beat Chris Renshaw in the Witton goal.

The Gingerbreads front line was causing Witton some problems with their pace and Michael Tweed stung the palms of Renshaw with a 20-yard drive.

For a period, the Gingerbreads won and kept the ball to leave the hosts struggling to create chances, but that all changed midway through the first half.

Witton began to exploit a gap between the Gingerbreads midfield and their back line, and run at the Grantham defence. On 19 minutes, Danny McKenna spread play to Cesaire Lingouba. Lingouba took the ball on towards the Gingerbreads penalty area and played a square pass for Kyle Sambar to sweep a shot past Kanuric and level scores.

The Gingerbreads tried to hit back with Bartle finding Westcarr. A neat effort from Westcarr was turned round the post by Renshaw for a corner.

As the half hour mark approached, Witton turned up the pressure on the Gingerbreads. Tom Owens played in Sambor, his low cross eluding everyone in the Grantham penalty area. Rob Atkinson did well to clear a cheeky back heel from Lingouba before anyone else could pounce on the loose ball, and Kanuric made a good save from Owens' header.

With 30 minutes gone, Witton took the lead. A long pass picked out Jones, he played the ball on for Sambor who picked out an unmarked Owens whose shot beat the exposed Gingerbreads goalkeeper.

The first half continued to be an open game, but few chances were made by either side until the Gingerbreads had a perfect opportunity to level scores four minutes from the break.

Remaye Campbell beat the Witton defence to a long clearance and was bundled over inside the penalty area. From the spot, Westcarr struck the penalty low to the Witton goalkeeper's right, but Renshaw got down quickly. Westcarr blasted the loose ball over the bar to the home side’s relief.

Westcarr and Campbell fashioned the first chance of the second half, but Smith was unable to control the loose ball.

The home side hit back with several chances in as many minutes around the hour mark. Michael Monaghan headed a free kick over the top, McKenna shot wide, and then set up Sambor, but Kanuric made another good stop.

Late on, Grantham turned up the heat themselves. A 74th minute corner was played to James Berrett. AJ Adelekan got to his cross, but headed wide of the mark. McGowan did the same a few minutes later when he met Bartle’s cross.

As Grantham pressed hard, Witton put 10 or 11 men behind the ball and frustrated the visitors.

Four minutes from time, the best chance for Grantham was stopped well by Renshaw. Westcarr powerfully met Bartle’s cross, but Renshaw turned his header over the crossbar.

Witton added a third goal in the second minute of injury time. Witton passed the ball around outside the Grantham penalty area, ending with Owens curling his shot into Kanuric’s top corner.

+ Grantham Town are in action at The Meres tonight (Tuesday) when they take on Worksop Town in the second round of the Integro League Cup. Kick-off is 7.45pm.

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