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Grantham Town boss Greene says improved training regime will increase squad fitness

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Two goals in two minutes at the end of the match was the difference between Grantham Town winning and drawing at Mickleover on Saturday.

Goals in the 87th and 88th minute left new Gingerbreads manager Dennis Greene disappointed in his first game in charge, after his side had led for the majority of the game, leaving him to think it was down to core fitness levels.

Greene said: “I think you can always assess it afterwards and get a better idea, but you never know the true answers.

National League 2021/22. Dover Athletic (White) v Chesterfield FC (Blue).Pictured is Dover Athletic forward Ricky Miller (9) in action against Chesterfield. .Dover Athletic FC, Crabble Athletic Ground, Lewisham Road, River, Dover, Kent. CT17 0JB.Picture: Andy Jones. (53510342)
National League 2021/22. Dover Athletic (White) v Chesterfield FC (Blue).Pictured is Dover Athletic forward Ricky Miller (9) in action against Chesterfield. .Dover Athletic FC, Crabble Athletic Ground, Lewisham Road, River, Dover, Kent. CT17 0JB.Picture: Andy Jones. (53510342)

“The conditions on Saturday turned against us in the last 20 minutes when we had wind and rain in our faces. And I think maybe at the end of it we probably just lacked a bit of fitness to try and keep them out of our box.

“We invited too much pressure in the final stages, because they never looked like scoring with 80 minutes gone. At 2-0, we was comfortable and we just died off in the end.

“The game plan went well and nine times out of 10 you generally win a game from that position, but for one reason or another it wasn’t to be.”

Mickleover had the better of the opening half hour and, but for a great save by Jim Pollard and the width of the post, could have been in front.

In an open, fast paced game played in driving rain, Andy Dales looked most likely to break the deadlock.

Dales put a cross into the Grantham penalty area on 14 minutes that would have fallen for Josh Scott but for a timely challenge from Mathieu Racine.

Three minutes later, Dales went close himself. A free kick in a central position gave him the chance to curl an effort over the Grantham wall. A flying Pollard save with his right hand kept scores level.

Dales had another great chance on 22 minutes. A cross from the Gingerbreads right hand side found the Mickleover number seven unmarked. His header missed the target.

Stuart Beavon also went close for the home side two minutes later. He took aim from 20 yards out, but saw his effort hit the post and come back out.

Having weathered the Mickleover storm, Grantham almost took the lead on 30 minutes. Ryan Grant and Greg Smith worked the ball wide to Ali Aydemir. Ricky Miller met his cross, but he put a free header over the crossbar.

A minute later, Grantham took the lead. Grant sent Aydemir in behind the Mickleover defence. Arlo Doherty saved Aydemir’s effort but could only parry the ball and Smith got there first to score for the Gingerbreads.

Dempsey Arlot-John shot wide for the home side before Grantham doubled their lead. Aydemir again was again the provider. Shane Clarke turned in his cross for a two goal half time lead.

Second half substitutions changed the game. Grantham replaced both Smith and Lee Shaw, while Mickleover used all three replacements by the hour mark.

For most of the second half, Grantham defended the edge of the 18-yard box comfortably. George Milner was forced across the edge of the Grantham penalty area two minutes into the half and eventually let fly but was well off target with his shot.

Ben Ratcliffe delivered a couple of crosses into the Gingerbreads penalty area, but Dales headed one wide of the mark while the other drifted away from any danger.

Two Grantham substitu-tions changed the way the Gingerbreads were able to play. An injury to Shaw and Smith being replaced by Nathan Modest meant Grantham found it harder to hold the ball higher up the pitch as the conditions worsened.

The Grantham back line looked very comfortable against anything Mickleover could throw at them for a long time. Pollard was a virtual spectator as Grant, Racine, Jode Adebayo and James Williamson kept the home side at bay.

The solid defending from Grantham crumbled in the last five minutes. With three minutes left on the clock, a cross from the Grantham right was swung into the far post. Ratcliffe had closed in and was able to bundle the ball into the net.

If the Mickleover first goal looked untidy, the equaliser was even scruffier. Two minutes after their opener, Mickleover won a corner when a cross was allowed to drift into the Grantham penalty area and flick off Racine.

The flag kick was swung into the near post where Milner managed to get the vital touch, despite the attention of three Grantham shirts, and forced the ball over the line to deny Grantham a win.

One of the new faces Greene introduced on Saturday was former Luton, Peterborough and Port Vale striker Ricky Miller who has been signed from National League side Dover Athletic.

Greene said: “I’ve worked with Ricky before. What Ricky will bring to the football club is quality. He will score goals at this level for sure. He just needs two or three weeks to get up to speed because he hasn’t played.

“He worked really hard Saturday, he had a really good chance to put us 3-0 in front that he headed over the bar. And had that have gone in we probably would have got over the line. But Ricky will certainly enhance the team.”

Regular front man Lee Shaw suffered an injury on Saturday but Greene was unable to give an update until he saw him last night and had an assessment from the physio.

Greene said: “I’m hopeful it’s nothing major and hopefully he’ll be fine.”

Greene said he was dissatisfied with the Gingerbreads’ current training regime and facilities wherein they are only allocated a portion of an astroturf pitch at The Meres for an hour on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Greene said: “It’s not enough for us to work on the team and try and get us out of this situation. We need more time. We need to be training for at least an hour and a half when you are only getting twice a week.”

Green said the club has managed to agree a deal with Melton Town FC where they will have their full pitch at their disposal.

Greene said: “Moving forward, we will have an hour and a half on the Tuesday at Melton and we will be staying at Newark on the Thursday which we have now increased to an hour and a half. So now at least we are going to get two sessions of one and a half hours into the team, which will benefit us massively.”

Turning his attention to Grantham’s home game against Atherton Collieries tomorrow, Greene said he would assess last night which players he had fit and available and go from there.

He said: “I’ve got an idea in my head what way we’re going, and if everyone’s fit then that’s what we’ll do.

“In these early stages, you try and pick the best system around that. Once we get the players in that we need – we still need two or three – once we get those positions covered, then we will stick to a system and we’ll stick to that moving forward so that we can get some kind of identity and everyone knows what we are doing.”

Kick-off at The Meres tomorrow is 3pm.

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