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Grantham Town hone their matchplay ahead of trip to the seaside

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Grantham Town had a good workout against National League North side Kettering Town on Tuesday night in what turned out to be something of a goal-fest, with the two sides sharing eight goals in total.

A bitterly cold night at The Meres greeted the Gingerbreads and the Poppies, along with a relatively modest gathering of hardy Grantham supporters.

The friendly gave Grantham some much needed matchplay after Saturday’s Ashton United game was postponed due to Covid in the visitors’ camp.

Fleet-footed Grantham Town striker Lee Shaw shows the Kettering defence a clean pair of heels. (54359033)
Fleet-footed Grantham Town striker Lee Shaw shows the Kettering defence a clean pair of heels. (54359033)

Prior to the game, Kettering professed online that they would be bringing a squad just consisting of ‘players returning from injury, fringe players and trialists’.

Gingerbreads manager Dennis Greene heard different. He said: "I asked them about the side they brought down and they said between the whole lot it was a full first team squad. They only made three subs at half time whereas we made 10.

"In general, they haven't got a reserve team, Kettering. That was their full first team squad."

It was Grantham who had the first real chance on five minutes when Ricky Miller ran down the left and put in a cross-cum-shot, but the Poppies goalkeeper was equal to his effort.

Three minutes later, at the other end, Gingerbreads keeper Jim Pollard blocked a close range shot at the near post.

Grantham striker Lee Shaw followed up a promising run with a cross-cum-shot across the face of goal in the 11th minute, but none of his team-mates were able to get that vital touch.

Kettering went in front on 14 minutes after Elliott Durrell was tackled successfully in his own box, with his assailant dispatching the ball into the top of the net.

Pollard prevented the visitors from doubling their lead four minutes later when he pawed away a dangerous corner kick.

However, the Poppies did go two up a minute later with a curling from within the box.

Both sides had several more chances apiece, including the visitors skimming the top of the bar, before the Gingerbreads pulled a goal back in the 27th minute when Durrell slotted home following good link-up play with Miller.

Kettering restored their two-goal cushion five minutes later with an unstoppable strike.

Grantham’s best chance of the remaining minutes of the first half saw Durrell’s free kick booted off the line by the visitors’ keeper before anyone else could get a touch.

The Gingerbreads rang the changes at half time with a fair few substitutions, including Greg Smith on for Shaw.

The first portion of the second half was battled out mainly in midfield with very few clear cut chances for either side.

Grantham reduced the deficit in the 65 minute when Smith stretched to a diagonal ball across the box and volleyed across the face of goal and into the net for 3-2.

Five minutes later and the Gingerbreads were level when a free kick into the box was side-footed in.

Kettering were clearly not happy with this turn of events and seemed up it a gear, restoring their lead in the 74th minute from a close range strike.

Grantham were kept on the back foot and another Kettering goal finally came in the 87th minute to seal the Gingerbreads’ fate.

Kettering’s goals came from Mikey Conlon (2), Isaac Stones and two trialists.

Grantham manager Dennis Greene was happy with his side’s performance.

He said: “We scored three goals against Kettering, it doesn’t really matter about the result, it’s what you are looking to get out of the game.

“We played some good football, we created some good opportunities against a Step Two team that’s going well, so overall I was quite pleased.

“We had probably five good opportunities before they scored. But they had two clinical finishes.

“Strangely enough, the second half, when we put on the weaker group, we got ourselves back in it 3-3 with 20 minutes to go.

“The result wasn’t important and it was a worthwhile exercise.”

The fast and furious pace of Tuesday’s workout should stand the Gingerbreads in good stead when they visit Scarborough Athletic tomorrow (Saturday).

Greene added: “They are in really good form at the moment, Scarborough, so it’s going to be a big ask.”

Town’s next home game is against FC United of Manchester next Saturday (January 29).

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