Grantham Town are forced to share the points
Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 1Mickleover Sports 1
Grantham Town returned to league action at The Meres on Tuesday night and looked to be taking all three points until the final 10 minutes.
Sports were the pacier side throughout and strung together passes with some aplomb, but Grantham battled for every ball and deserved at least their share of the spoils due to their sheer workrate.
The Gingerbreads had an early scare in the second minute. Mason Warren's corner kick was headed clear by Rob Atkinson, but only back to Warren who put in a wicked cross which was headed in by Lee Hughes.
However, the modest travelling Mickleover support's cheers proved premature as the referee's assistant had flagged for offside - much to Grantham's relief.
The opening quarter of an hour was breathless stuff, with play swinging from end to end.
Town's first real goal scoring opportunity came in the 12th minute when Chib Chilaka really got hold of his 25-yard shot out of the blue, but he pulled his effort wide.
But Chilaka's proven prowess in front of goal came to the fore three minutes later when he doggedly battled off Mickleover's Durrell Berry and unleashed a shot straight into the back of the net to put the Gingerbreads in front.
Mickleover were unfazed and continued to attack en masse. Their next attempt came from Hughes' close range shot in the 17th minute which Town goalkeeper Tom Nicholson did well to bat away.
Chilaka had a chance to double his tally in the 25th minute but his effort from the edge of the box was charged down.
Nicholson was quick to catch Hughes' 38th minute close range cross whilst, two minutes later at the other end, Sports keeper Louis Jones rose high to snatch Tom Ward's long through from a sea of heads.
Town's final chance of the first half came in the 42nd minute when Chilaka escaped the clutches of a defender on the wing and launched a long range strike, but it flew just over the bar.
Grantham had a good opportunity extend their lead in the 53rd minute when Gregg Smith connected a header with another Ward long throw, but Jones managed to tip the ball around the post.
Mickleover countered immediately with Hughes breaking away, but his cross-cum-shot went wayward.
And then Sports' Declan Bacon had a peach of a chance in the 57th minute, but he skied his shot wildly from the edge of the penalty area.
Bacon flicked another effort over the bar from the same area in the 64th minute whilst, at the other end a minute later, Town skipper Danny Racchi's shot rolled wide of the target.
Mickleover substitute Jack Storer looked to have a fair eye for goal and went close with a couple of 25-yarders around the 70-minute mark.
The Gingerbreads continued to defend to the hilt, occasionally with some desperation, until they were finally breeched in the 82nd minute. Having looked dangerous from the kick-off, Warren danced with way past several Town defenders and fired straight into the middle of goal.
The visitors had a good chance to snatch the win in the 88th minute when Bacon unlocked Town's defence with ease, but he put his shot wide.
Nicholson tipped Sports sub Nathan Modest's 89th minute header over the bar, whilst Grantham 's last opportunity came in the third minute of added time, but subCraig Westcarr was just unable to get a touch to a ball across the six-yard box.
Grantham Town: Nicholson, Broadhead, Green, Atkinson (Tweed 90+1), Ward, Racchi, McGovern, Berrett, Chilaka (Westcarr 79), Smith (Goncalves 72), Baxendale. Subs not used: Baldwin, Andrew. Att: 189.