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Grantham Town lost by odd goal in three in improved performance

Northern Premier League Premier Division

Bamber Bridge 2

Grantham Town 1

Grantham Town striker Craig Westcarr. Photo: Toby Roberts (28920138)
Grantham Town striker Craig Westcarr. Photo: Toby Roberts (28920138)

By Graham Cowell

Goals early in each half from Bamber Bridge striker Matthew Dudley undid good work by the Gingerbreads as they matched their hosts for long periods and had chances to have won the game.

Marshall Willock’s first goal for the club gave Grantham Town hope of getting something out of the game, but they were unable to break Bamber Bridge down a second time.

“The two lads who came in for their debuts were fantastic,” said Town joint manager Paul Rawden. “They added a lot of pace and energy to the side. To me, it is one of the better performances that we have had all season.

"Their keeper has pulled off two or three fantastic saves. We knocked on the door all afternoon and showed passion and desire.”

The Gingerbreads had the first chance in the opening minute when a Curtis Morrison cross was knocked down by Akeel Francis for Joel Carta. His shot agonisingly rolled a foot wide of the post, with Bamber goalkeeper Danny Roccia beaten.

Bamber Bridge’s first attack led to the opening goal. Rowan Roche turned a pass inside the Grantham defence for Dudley to run on to. The striker made no mistake, beating keeper Jon Worsnop from just inside the penalty area.

The home side played quick two-touch football that had the Gingerbread chasing shadows around most of the pitch for the next 15 minutes. Grantham sat deep, waiting for Bamber Bridge to give them the ball as they denied the home side chances, but could not keep the ball themselves.

Midway through the half, the Gingerbreads began to get a foothold in the game and could have levelled matters in the five minutes before the break. A couple of shots, lacking power from Craig Westcarr and Akeel Francis, preceded a good end to the first period.

First, a delightful pass from Callum Coyle put Westcarr through one-on-one with Roccia. The home keeper was well off his line and the Gingerbreads' top scorer tried to lob him. Westcarr did not get enough elevation on his effort and a grateful Roccia gathered the ball.

On the stroke of half time, the home keeper breathed a sigh of relief again. Another Morrison cross reached Francis at the far post, but Roccia scrambled across his goal to bundle the striker's effort around the post.

An early corner, that was just cleared by the home side, and desperate defending when Francis got in front of Roccia in the opening minutes of the second half, promised more of the same from Grantham, but the Gingerbreads found themselves two goal adrift after 53 minutes.

George Thomason picked the ball up deep inside his own half and was allowed to run deep into the Gingerbreads territory before passing wide to Roache. The winger delivered a cross to the near post where Dudley got there first on the edge of the six yard box and fired home.

Grantham bounced back almost immediately. Francis’ shot was turned round the post by Roccia. From the corner, Willock got enough on the ball at the near post to get it over the line and bring Grantham back into the game.

With 13 minutes left, Grantham had another chance to get something from the game. The Gingerbreads forced two corners in quick succession. From the second, Chris Robertson had a free header but was a foot too high with his effort.

The home side regained control of the game for the last 10 minutes and could have added to their lead.

Another cross into the Grantham penalty area fell for Alistair Waddecar, but the Gingerbreads defence scrambled the ball away.

In the final minute, Roache twisted through three challenges inside the penalty area, however, Worsnop was well-placed to save his shot.

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