Grantham Town celebrate New Year with victory on the road
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Basford United 0
Grantham Town 1
By Graham Cowell
Grantham Town started 2022 in the best possible way with a win on the road at Basford United on New Year's Day.
Although the home side dominated possession and forced 17 corners in the game, they created few clear chances.
Shane Clarke showed the finishing Town manager Dennis Greene wants from his side to give his side all three points.
“It was great to get over the line today,” said Greene. “We defended really well. We held our shape well and got the vital goal on the break. Although they had possession, we weren’t under too much pressure.”
The tone for the game was set in the opening minutes. Basford had almost all of the possession but did not really trouble Grantham with it. Kieran Wells hit an early shot straight at keeper Jim Pollard, then headed over the crossbar from the first of the home side's corner kicks after three minutes.
Despite the possession that Basford enjoyed, Grantham defended the edge of the penalty area well, getting in timely challenges to deny the home side anything other than speculative efforts from distance. Marcus Marshall and Kane Richards both tried their luck, but Pollard's positioning was perfect as he did not have to move to gather the shots.
With Grantham standing off the home side and allowing them to play in front of the Gingerbreads penalty area, it was no surprise midway through the half when Basford forced five corners in three minutes. However, great work at the back restricted them to one header from Matt Thornhill that Grantham smuggled over their own crossbar.
The Gingerbreads showed they could not be discounted after half an hour. Greg Smith laid the ball off for Shane Clarke. His square ball did not initially find another purple shirt, but Finlay Shrimpton picked up the loose ball and fired a shot that Basford goalkeeper Jordan Pierrepont parried towards Ricky Miller. Miller's follow-up effort was blocked by the Basford custodian.
The only goal of the game came after Basford’s 10th corner of the half. The Gingerbreads broke quickly down the right flank on 39 minutes. Shrimpton picked out Lee Shaw on the right wing. Shaw laid a low ball back for Clarke. His shot from 18 yards out hit the inside of the post before rolling along the line and into the net.
The goal spurred Grantham to their best spell of the game. Twice Miller got into good positions, but it was the turn of the Basford defence to work hard as they blocked his efforts both times.
The second half quickly took the same shape as the first. Owen Betts ran over half the length of the field unchallenged before he was blocked out on the edge of the Grantham penalty area.
Intense pressure before the hour mark saw Pollard in action again. Betts made another run and this time got his shot away, but Pollard got down well to his left to turn it round the post.
As Basford began to get frustrated by Grantham, Pollard again showed fine goalkeeping to stop a free kick at his near post and deny Terry Hawkridge when he let fly from 20 yards out.
The best save of the afternoon came on 69 minutes. Basford won a free kick just outside the Grantham penalty area. Ryan Wilson thought he had hit it perfectly just inside Pollard's left hand post, but the Grantham goalkeeper flew low to concede another corner.
Basford became more desperate in the last 20 minutes and Grantham began to find chances to add a second goal. Ali Aydemir laid on a good ball for Miller. His cross found Michael Williams, but he headed over the crossbar.
Miller then got on the end of a through-ball with 10 minutes left. He only had Pierrepont to beat but the Basford goalkeeper did well to deny him.
Aydemir had the ball in the net in injury time when a crossfield ball found him in acres of space. He beat Pierrepont, but the offside flag ruled out the effort.
By this time, it was too late for Basford as the final whistle sparked scenes of celebration for Grantham and their travelling fans.