Grantham Town lose by the slenderest of margins
Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 0
Stalybridge Celtic 1
Grantham Town's Christmas hangover came somewhat early with a narrow defeat at The Meres on Saturday.
The Gingerbreads were outplayed in the first half but improved as the second period wore on, however the goal needed to secure even a share of the spoils remained elusive.
After a bit of a damp squib start to the game, the first real attempt on goal went to Stalybridge in the fifth minute, but Greg Wilkinson's effort flew well off target.
However, the visitors went in front two minutes later following a Neil Kengni corner kick. Several Celtic players had shots, including one that came off the bar and gifted Andy Scott the ball and he stabbed in from close range in a goalmouth scramble.
Town's own first real opportunity did not come until the 18th minute when Tom Siddons pivoted on the spot and softly rolled the ball goalwards, but it still caught Celtic keeper Jake Turner slightly unawares and he had to dive down to save.
The game swung from end to end with half-chances being equally shared as the game wore on.
The home side's next chance came in the 28th minute when Charlie Ward got his head to Oli Luto's 40-yard free kick, but Turner caught safely.
The visitors had a couple more opportunities before the break, with Liam Tongue shooting straight at Town keeper Jordan Wright and Scott Bakkor breaking quickly but seeing his shot deflected wide of the post by a Grantham defender whilst, at the other end in the penultimate minute, a Celtic defender headed Fernando Bell-Toxtle's dangerous corner kick into safety.
The Gingerbreads began the second half on the back foot, with a large, orangey blood red moon illuminating the sky but not quite making up for the floodlight failure at a Grantham corner of the pitch.
Kengni's 51st minute corner kick was headed out by a Town defender but it went straight back to the opposition who continued their assault.
Celtic had another chance 10 minutes later when Bakkor cut the ball back to Wilkinson, but his lob proved too easy for Wright who caught comfortably.
Wright was in action again on 65 minutes, pulling off an excellent save to block Tongue's 25-yard blast.
The final 15 to 20 minutes saw Grantham pressing the visitors back into their own half, with the Gingerbreads' best opportunity of the game coming in the 75th minute. Shaun Harrad got a good backwards header to Luto's corner kick, but keeper Turner was just able to catch the ball underneath the bar.
Staybridge went close to doubling their lead four minutes later when Tongue blasted his 25-yard free kick over the Grantham wall and just over the bar.
At the other end, with three minutes remaining, Turner just managed to smother the ball in time to deny Town substitute Tiago Nassunculo a touch.
Referee Mr Dadley added on another three minutes, but it was not enough time for Town find the back of the net.
Grantham Town: Wright, Barrows, Luto, Bell-Toxtle, C. Ward (c), Salt (T. Ward 59), Durkin, Thompson (Ofushine 66), Harrad, Siddons (Nassunculo 82), Fortnam-Tomlinson. Subs not used: McCartney, Gibbons. Att: 195.