Grantham Town triumph at The Meres
Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 1
Witton Albion 0
Grantham Town returned to winning ways at home with a slender victory over Witton Albion at a sun-drenched Meres stadium on Saturday.
After an initial brief period of excitement shortly after kick-off, the game appeared to have goalless draw written all over it. It was largely uneventful at times with long spells of stalemate, although the Gingerbreads always looked the more promising in the second half with a flurry of shots on goal as the game drew ever closer to the final whistle.
But Town were caught half asleep in the opening minute when Rob Hopley was allowed to run in on goal far too easily, but fortunately for Grantham the Witton skipper was pretty inept at finishing off his lone attack.
Three minutes later, at the other end, Chris Dawson escaped the clutches of midfield and ran in on the Albion goal, before he was brought down in the box by Lewis Doyle and referee Mr Watkins pointed straight to the spot.
Shane Benjamin stepped up to the mark but visiting keeper Greg Hall dived the right way to save the penalty. Benjamin was then unable to put the loose ball away and Witton were let off the hook.
The Gingerbreads somehow managed to clear the ball away finally from a 10th minute goalmouth scramble, and from that point on there was really not much to write home about in the first half.
Witton's next best chance did not come until the 35th minute when Billy Smart headed over from a Danny McKenna cross.
Grantham keeper Sam Andrew safely gathered the ball from danger from a McKenna corner kick in the 39th minute.
Town's final opportunity to get on the scoresheet in the first period saw striker Jordan Adebayo-Smith one-on-one with Hall, but his header over the keeper went wide of the target.
The first chance after the break went to the visitors, but Andrew was equal to Doyle's deflected shot and caught with confidence.
Grantham's 49th minute free kick, taken by Dawson from the edge of the box, was caught high in the air by Hall on the goal-line.
The Gingerbreads had another chance three minutes later but Benjamin scuffed his effort wide from inside the penalty area.
A 54th minute long throw by Town's Connor Bartle was punched clear by the questionable hands of Hall but only as far as Adebayo-Smith, but this time the Witton keeper managed to catch the ball.
A comparatively rare second half attack by Albion, just after the hour, saw James Foley break away and shoot, but Andrew stopped his drive in its tracks.
Andrew was also a match for Joe Briers' long throw in the 68th minute, whilst the Grantham defence cleared another of his dangerous sideline launches to safety five minutes later.
The chances continued to come for the Gingerbreads. Akeel Francis was unable to get a shot off from Bartle's long throw in the 76th minute and, three minutes later, Town's appeals for another penalty went unheeded after Witton keeper Hall slid a tackle into Francis' ankles.
Seconds later, McKenna did just enough to ensure Francis put his strike past the far post.
Grantham got the reward for their unceasing waves of attack with a slightly controversial goal in the 82nd minute.
Another long Bartle throw was repelled out of the box by the Albion defence but only as far as Jack McGovern who unleashed a lightning bolt of a shot from 20-plus yards. Keeper Hall seemed to have caught the ball but then comically fumbled it over the line. The referee's assistant flagged it to be a goal despite the protestations of the red-faced Hall.
Adebayo-Smith fired wide for Town two minutes later and also put his 88th minute half-volley over the bar from the edge of the area, as Grantham played out the final minutes till the whistle.
The result shot the Gingerbreads up to 14th place in the league and sent fans home with a smile on their faces.
Grantham town: Andrew, Briers (Green 15), Bartle, Miller, Ward, Brooks (Tweed 65), Dawson, McGovern, Benjamin (Grouse 80), Francis, Adebayo-Smith. Subs not used: Payne, Omar. Att: 205.