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Grantham Town suffer a second half to forget

Northern Premier League Premier Division

Stalybridge Celtic 5

Grantham Town 0

GTFC (41161164)
GTFC (41161164)

By Graham Cowell

A quick burst of second half goals settled the game for consecutive Grantham Town games.

Unfortunately for the Gingerbreads on Tuesday at Stalybridge, they went against Grantham in a second half that quickly unravelled including a red card and a penalty, leading to a heavy defeat on Tameside.

Grantham played uphill in the first half and soon found the home side using the slope to their advantage to put Town under early pressure. The Gingerbreads reacted well, keeping Stalybridge at arm’s length in the early exchanges.

It was the Gingerbreads who had the first clear chance. Ali Aydemir picked out Finley Shrimpton who had a shot blocked. The rebound fell to Harvey Grice but he fired his shot across goal and just wide of the target.

The home side kept the pressure on Grantham, winning a number of free kicks around the penalty area. After a quarter of an hour, Jay Fitzmartin delivered a dead ball from 25 yards out that was met by Charley Doyle. Doyle’s header was watched over the crossbar by keeper Jim Pollard.

Aydemir’s deflected shot a couple of minutes later led to two corners for the Gingerbreads, but they could not make the most of them and almost conceded a goal on the break from the second.

Scott Bakkor fed wide man Justin Johnson. He beat Aydemir and fired a low cross into the Grantham six-yard box. Pollard initially got down bravely to divert the danger, with AJ Adelekan clearing Grantham’s lines.

Stalybridge began to exploit space wide on both flanks. Fitzmartin looked to have got away into the Grantham penalty area on the right-hand side, but a good recovery from Sisa Tuntulwana stopped the danger. Tuntulwana then made himself a chance at the other end, but hit his right foot shot across goal.

The home side had two good chances in two minutes on the half hour mark, both times Pollard did enough to keep scores level. Charley Doyle set Fitzmartin free with just the Grantham goalkeeper to beat. The Stalybridge winger slipped his shot past Pollard, but the Grantham goalkeeper had got his angles right and the ball rolled past the post. Fitzmartin tried again a minute later, cutting in from the flank, taking on Tuntulwana and firing off a shot that Pollard saved well.

Jonathan Wafula and Stalybridge’s Dougie Nyaupembe were both shown a yellow card for squaring up to each other when Wafula stopped Stalybridge taking a quick free kick. When the dead ball was delivered to the far post, Pollard clawed the delivery away and it seemed to come off a Stalybridge attacker before being flagged as a goal kick by the referee’s assistant. Mr McQuillan saw it differently and gave the home side a corner that Grantham comfortably cleared.

The second half quickly unravelled for Grantham. Adelekan made a great tackle to deny Johnson immediately after the break. After 49 minutes, Johnson held off Grantham challenges to get into the Gingerbreads penalty area and fire across Pollard for the opening goal.

Two minutes later, it was the opposite flank that undid Grantham. Fitzmartin ran at the Gingerbreads defence and won a corner. The delivery was into a crowded six-yard box. Pollard went up for the ball but did not claim it. In the resulting melée, Kenan Quansah stabbed the ball home to make it 2-0.

A tough task against a confident home side who found space whenever they wanted it on the flanks became harder after 64 minutes. Wafula chased a loose ball and caught Sam Wedgebury as he cleared his lines. Mr McQuillan showed the Gingerbreads striker a second yellow card, leaving Grantham with 25 minutes left and 10 men remaining.

Two minutes later, the game was virtually won. A corner was drifting over the head of Adelekan and he stuck up a hand to deflect the ball away from Quansah. Mr McQuillan spotted it, awarded the penalty and Scott Bakkor made no mistake for a third goal for the home side.

Substitute Jake Burton wrapped up the scoring with two goals in the last 15 minutes as Grantham looked ragged with 10 men.

A long clearance from Stalybridge goalkeeper Jahquil Hill was allowed to bounce right through the Gingerbreads. James Williamson had to wait for it to drop for a second time before trying to head back to Pollard. Burton anticipated the move and Williamson’s header lacked pace to reach the Grantham goalkeeper. Burton nipped in, robbed Pollard and rolled the ball into the empty net.

Pollard turned over a fierce strike from Doyle as Stalybridge looked for more goals. Connor O’Grady headed a cross from Johnson before the home side got their fifth four minutes before the end.

A through-ball for Burton gave him a one-on-one with Pollard. Burton slid his shot past the Grantham goalkeeper to complete a miserable night for Grantham.

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