Grantham Town come to the 'four' with victory over Radcliffe
Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 4Radcliffe 0
Two goals per half secured a good win for Grantham Town at a sunny but breezy Meres on Saturday.
A more confident, purposeful Gingerbreads performance deserved the victory, with resolute defending also ensuring a clean sheet.
Town had the wind more or less at their backs in the first half and had the first shot on goal in the fourth minute, but James Berrett's effort lacked the necessary power.
Newly signed player/coach Francois Zoko looked certain to get a header to skipper Danny Racchi's 12th minute corner kick, but he was barged off the ball.
A minute later, James Baxendale had a go from 25 yards but fired well over the Radcliffe crossbar.
Grantham's Greg Smith broke away in the 17th minute, being denied a shot but winning a corner. Racchi's flag kick was caught on the volley by Berrett but it flew straight into the arms of goalkeeper Oliver Martin.
The visitors were awarded a free kick on 21 minutes but Tyrese Sinclair dragged his effort wide of the near post.
The Gingerbreads' pressure finally told in the 23rd minute. Nathan Smith took a few seconds to tee up his cross-cum-shot from the side of the box which was deflected in by Radcliffe's Matt Hughes.
Smith had a chance to double Town's lead two minutes later but curled his drive wide from 20 yards.
And then at the other end, a quick break down the right and a cross into the area by Matthew Wolfenden was simply too swift for the on-rushing Ben Wharton to reach.
Grantham doubled their advantage in the 36th minute. Racchi's free kick from the side of the box was headed goalwards by Smith, with Tom Ward nodding the ball home from close range.
Town went close to a third on 40 minutes, with Radcliffe nearly putting the ball in their own net and Grantham's Andrew Wright just unable to direct his header on target.
The last opportunity of the half went to Radcliffe. Sinclair's 20-yard free kick cleared the Town wall but also just flew over the bar.
The first 10 minutes of the second half will be remembered for the sending to the stands of Radcliffe assistant manager Frank Sinclair. Former Chelsea and Leicester City defender Sinclair kicked off an off-the-pitch altercation concerning ball retrieval and replacement, as he invaded the Grantham technical area and began barging people about.
After referee Mr Jones consulted his assistant, the red card was shown to Sinclaire which received the biggest cheer of the afternoon from the Meres faithful.
The incident did nothing to upset the Gingerbreads' concentration though, and they added a third goal on the hour. Racchi's outswinging corner kick was played back by Jack Broadhead to Wright, whose half-volley nearly burst the Radcliffe net.
Victory would surely be sealed with Town's fourth goal which came in the 67th minute, a sensational Zoko volley from an equally impressive long Ward throw, followed in by Broadhead just to make sure.
Radcliffe proceeded to throw everything they had got, but Grantham defended stoutly and in numbers to repel every attack.
The visitors' best chance came in the 83rd minute but Town keeper Tom Nicholson was quick to smother Wharton's dangerous cross-cum-shot from danger.
Gingerbreads substitute Chib Chilaka curled just wide with his 87th minute half volley and then, two minutes later, had another effort blocked for a corner kick.
The Frank Sinclair incident put another seven minutes on the clock but the Grantham wall of resistance remained intact, with Radcliffe captain Harry Winter's 96th minute strike failing to gain the visitors even a consolation goal.
The match was sponsored by 'The Assets' in memory of staunch Gingerbreads supporter Dave Bell who died recently. They awarded man of the match to Andrew Wright.
Grantham Town: Nicholson, McGovern, Smith (Tweed 67), Broadhead, Ward, Racchi, Baxendale, Berrett, Zoko (Goodson 77), Smith (Chilaka 64), Wright. Subs not used: Goncalves, Andrew. Att: 200.