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Grantham Town progress to final of the South Kesteven Charity Cup

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Grantham Town's first pre-season fixture saw them progress to the final of the South Kesteven Charity Cup after they defeated Blackstones at home on Saturday.

The Gingerbreads led from a first half goal until the final minute when the visitors equalised from the spot, taking the game into a penalty shoot-out.

Scorching hot sunshine greeted the two teams on a day too hot to be playing football, with referee Mr Cliffe allowing drinks breaks in each half.

Grantham Town striker Ricky Miller threads his way through the Blackstones defence. Photo: Toby Roberts (57864414)
Grantham Town striker Ricky Miller threads his way through the Blackstones defence. Photo: Toby Roberts (57864414)

The game was the first opportunity for Gingerbreads fans to get a look at manager Matt Chatfield's exciting new squad, with Town completely dominating the first half of the contest.

Approximately 95 per cent of play was in the Blackstones half and the constant pressure resulted in Ricky Miller being brought down in the area on 22 minutes.

Miller stepped up to take the spot kick but visiting goalkeeper Bartosz Berezowski dived the right way and tipped the ball wide.

Town's new signing Damien McCrory was very impressive and was instrumental in putting his side in front a minute later, crossing the ball to Lee Shaw who made no mistake from close range.

Blackstones had Berezowski to thank for them not being further behind by half time as Grantham continued to dominate, with the two sides literally and metaphorically leagues apart.

However, the second half was a completely different game. With Miller having gone off late in the first half, the Gingerbreads seemed to miss his energy, whilst Blackstones came into the match far more in a much more open affair, no doubt having had the hairdryer treatment at half time.

Town keeper Dan Haystead did have a couple of saves to make in the second period, but the majority of chances still came at the other end.

Harry Wood was not far off target with his header from a Steve Leslie free kick, Jonathan Wafula blasted just wide, and Dan Cox's shot went the same way from a Sisa Tuntulwana squared ball. Tuntulwana also had a high cross-cum-shot drop just past the far post with five minutes remaining.

With the game looking like a 1-0 victory to Grantham, Blackstones' Dami Agboola was fouled in the box in the 90th minute. Haystead dived the right way to Luke Gove's penalty kick, maybe even getting a touch, but the ball still found the back of the net seconds before Mr Cliffe blew for time.

Blackstones won the toss to take the first penalty of the shoot-out, but Haystead saved Gove's effort and then also smothered the attempt by Patryk Huczo low into his stomach.

Grantham were successful with their first two penalties, taken by Cocks and Ashton Hall.

Blackstones did manage to score two more through Harry McLoughlin and Louie Venni, but it was too little too late as the Gingerbreads carried on scoring from all their penalties, needing only two more to win.

Wafula put away Town's third penalty whilst the winning one came from Brad Munns for a 4-2 victory on penalties and a place in next Saturday's final when they will meet the winner of Harrowby United and Bourne Town which will be contested at Dickens Road on Tuesday night, kick-off 7.45pm.

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