Second-half goals give Grantham Town a much needed victory
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Witton Albion 1
Grantham Town 4
By Graham Cowell
Three goals in eight second-half minutes earned the Gingerbreads all three points against Witton Albion on Saturday.
The home side had a good penalty claim refused in the first half, but after the break Grantham got the rewards their efforts deserved. Although the home side pulled a goal back, Grantham were comfortably able to restore their three-goal advantage and see the game out.
The first half saw both sides create openings, but neither goalkeeper was seriously stretched. In the third minute, a cross from Witton’s Nathan Woodthorpe was missed by AJ Adelekan and knocked down by Callum Saunders for Tom Owens. Owens curled in a shot that went past the post.
In a fast-paced game, Grantham pressed Witton hard, but left one or two gaps early on. Saunders was allowed to drift off his marker to the right after nine minutes. Although he was well placed to shoot, he lifted his effort over the crossbar.
The Gingerbreads wingers began to have an influence on the game four minutes later. Harvey Grice and Finley Shrimpton combined well in the centre of midfield and fed Ali Aydemir on the right-hand side. Aydemir drove in a low cross that flashed inches away from Mason Lee.
Witton were frustrated with referee Mr Abdon after 17 minutes. Sisa Tuntulwana tangled with Jawad Jebrin just inside the Grantham penalty area. Jebrin went down under the challenge, but Mr Abdon waved play on.
The two sides continued to create half-chances but could not find either the final ball, or the target. Jonathan Wafula challenged with Witton goalkeeper Greg Hall to win the ball from Tuntulwana’s cross. It fell to Lee but his shot spun wide.
Jebrin delivered a low cross into the Gingerbreads penalty area that was only just in front of Saunders. Aydemir shot over the crossbar from a good position as the game ebbed and flowed from end to end.
Ten minutes before half time, Witton had a great opportunity to open the scoring. The Gingerbreads were exposed on the break, five on four. Nathan Woodthorpe spread play wide to James Foley, but again when the cross came in it was just in front of Saunders.
It took Grantham eight minutes of the second half to take the lead. Thierry Latty-Fairweather beat Jebrin and fired in a low shot. The ball initially fell to Lee but his effort was blocked. Grice pounced on the loose ball and fired high into the Witton net.
Three minutes later, Shrimpton and Grice combined again to send Wafula through. His low cross to the near post was turned in by Aydemir.
A further six minutes saw the game as good as won. Shrimpton put a cross over to the far post where Lee touched it into the net for Grantham’s third.
Wafula had two chances to add to the lead as Grantham tore into Witton. Aydemir’s cross was inches from his head, then Lee and Manasse Kianga created a shooting chance for the Grantham striker, but his effort went straight at Hall in the Witton goal.
The home side reduced arrears on 73 minutes. A long throw was flicked on to the near post where Saunders was in the right place to turn the ball past Town keeper Jim Pollard.
Aydemir wrapped up the win 10 minutes from time. He cut across the Witton defence from the right flank and unleashed a shot across Hall that went into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Both sides could have added to their scores late in the game. Aydemir and Wafula both brought saves from Hall.
Wafula had a golden opportunity for a fifth Grantham goal three minutes from time when the Gingerbreads broke quickly. Wafula was all alone just inside the Witton half with Hall stranded 25 yards from his goal. Wafula looked to lift the ball over the Witton goalkeeper into the empty net but miscued his effort and it rolled well wide of the mark.
Although Nick Ryan rattled the Grantham crossbar as the game moved into injury time, there was no way back for the home side as the Gingerbreads recorded a much needed win to pull themselves off the foot of the Premier Division table.