Grantham Town lose at home to league leading Gladiators
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Grantham Town 1
Matlock Town 3
For the second time in four days, Grantham Town ended the 90 minutes bereft of any points, when their overall performance justified a fair share of the spoils.
League leaders Matlock Town appeared to have come with a game plan of coming out all guns blazing, attacking with a frenetic pace that the Gingerbreads struggled to match early on.
Grantham had an early brief glimmer of hope when Nathan Modest's cross-cum-shot grazed the post.
A minute later, and the Gladiators took an early lead from a quick break, ending with Alex Byrne finding the back of the net via Gingerbread Harvey Grice's leg for an own goal.
Home goalkeeper Jim Pollard plucked Jamie Cooke's 10th minute cross-cum-shot out of the air whilst, a minute later at the other end, Matlock keeper Shaun Rowley did the same to halt Jacob Wright's free kick.
The Gladiators' assaualt continued apace, with Grantham unable to offer any real threat and spending all their time defending anywhere from the centre circle back to the six-yard box.
But as the half hour mark approached, the pace of the game slowed and allowed the Gingerbreads to get more time on the ball and press forward.
And the home side had a chance to level on 32 minutes when Finley Shrimpton's strike skimmed the bar.
However, Matlock doubled their advantage seven minutes later. Another quick breakaway ended with skipper Liam Hughes crossing square for Byrne to bag his second goal of the night.
Matlock danger man Byrne had a couple more half chances, whilst Cooke went closer still to making it three in the 43 minute, but his low shot curled just wide of the far post.
The final opportunity of the half saw Grantham's Shrimpton blast wide in the dying seconds.
The game really opened up after the break, with the pace continuing to be more suited to the Gingerbreads, with the visitors perhaps running out of gas after their early energy expenditure.
But it was the Gladiators who had the first chance five minutes in. Shane Clarke fouled Callum Chippendale, with Byrne firing his free kick just wide of the post and the fully outstretched Pollard.
Matlock had several more half-chances whilst, at the other end, Wright's 59th minute effort was deflected just wide of the post.
The Gingerbreads pulled a goal back a couple of minutes later when Thierry Latty-Fairweather rocketed the ball in with aplomb from the edge of the area.
The visitors' efforts on goal began to become more desperate and their defending more crude, whilst the more balanced second half saw Grantham to increase in confidence and time on the ball. Ali Adeymir brought a good save from Rowley in the 77th minute.
There were penalty appeals when Grantham's Wright went down in the box a minute later, but referee Mr Fryer saw things differently and yellow carded Wright for diving.
The Gingerbreads number 10 Lee Shaw had two good opportunities to perhaps give his side a share of the points in the final few minutes of the 90. He was on the end of Shrimpton's 86th minute 45-yard free kick, his goalbound shot forcing Rowley to tip around the post.
A minute later, once again, Rowley just got his fingertips to the ball to deny Shaw a second time.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the first minute of added time, with Mr Fryer showing sub Matt Sargent a red card for elbowing Adeymir in the face.
A long Grantham free kick saw Rowley fumble his catch, but he recovered the ball before the Gingerbreads could take advantage in the scramble.
A final twist of the knife saw a cruel end to the night for Grantham when, that man again, Byrne tapped in his second following a quick break in the final minute of added time.
Grantham Town: Pollard, Williamson (c), Latty-Fairweather, Clarke, Eze, Shrimpton, Adeymir, Grice, Modest, Shaw, Wright. Subs: Parkin (Wright 82), Lee (Grice 90+1). Subs not used: Kianga, Tuntulwana, Williams. Att: 221.