Grantham Town fall at first hurdle in FA Cup
FA Cup First qualifying round
Nantwich Town 2
Grantham Town 0
By Graham Cowell
Similar to the 2019-20 FA Cup, the Gingerbreads crashed out courtesy of a two-goal defeat at Nantwich Town on Saturday.
Goals in each half were reward for the home side’s dominance as a much changed Grantham side struggled to threaten the home side.
Grantham Town manager Carlton Palmer said: “I would say it was a disappointing performance. I think the scoreline flattered us. We’ve made changes, but I think it was right.
"We had a late injury to cope with and three new signings. You can’t script the injury, but I believe the processes we are following are right for the club.”
The game started in the right manner for Grantham, forcing four corners in the first five minutes. A free kick almost got the Gingerbreads in front, but Michael Williams' header flashed in front of the closing Gingerbreads.
Williams went close again after 10 minutes when Mason Lee and Harvey Grice worked well to send Rio Molyneux away on the right. His cross found Williams, but he fired past the post.
Nantwich began to control the game with Caspar Hughes and Sean Cooke running things in the middle of the park. After 11 minutes, Cooke worked an opening with Luke Walsh that Adam Watson did well to clear for a corner. A short corner routine saw Hughes fire in a shot that Jim Pollard also did well to save.
Hughes was the architect of the opening goal on 16 minutes. He had space on the Grantham right and delivered a cross to the edge of the six-yard box. Tommy Montifiori was in the right place to shoot past Pollard.
Grantham were kept on the back foot for most of the rest of the half. Nantwich passed the ball well and worked space to create chances. Walsh moved into space behind James Williamson midway through the half. He played in Cooke who drifted past three challenges inside the penalty area and fired off a shot that was deflected wide.
Cooke went even closer with just over half an hour gone. He lifted a free kick over the Grantham wall but hit the crossbar.
Late in the half, Grantham created half-chances, but Nantwich goalkeeper Cameron Terry was not troubled by Grice’s shot and Walsh was in the right place to clear Watson’s header from a corner just before half time.
Early in the second half, Grantham’s tormentors, Cooke and Hughes, were at it again. Cooke lost his marker trying to get on the end of Hughes’ free kick but could not get any contact on the attempt.
Williams tried to get Grantham back into the game almost on his own with three attempts on goal in three minutes as Grantham looked livelier. His first effort after 51 minutes was deflected past the post. Then he fired just wide from 30 yards out before almost getting on the end of a good ball from Grice.
Pollard eventually gathered a loose ball as it bounced around the Gingerbreads six-yard box after an hour, but it was only a couple of minutes more before Nantwich sealed the game.
Cooke caught the Gingerbreads napping with a quickly taken free kick, giving Sean Miller a one-on-one with Pollard that the Nantwich substitute slipped into the net with ease.
The home side managed the game out well from that point on.
A Williams free kick, that Williamson headed over at the near post, and a Nathan Modest shot in the last minute were the only chances Grantham had to get back in the game.
Nantwich did not need to press too hard to keep Grantham out, although Cooke again went close in injury time, forcing a save from Pollard, while Walsh had his follow-up shot deflected wide.