Single second-half goal sinks Grantham Town on the road
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Atherton Collieries 1
Grantham Town 0
By Graham Cowell
A goal shortly after half time was enough for the home side to take all three points in a game with very few clear chances at either end.
Despite a late push, the Gingerbreads could not get back on level terms and slipped into the bottom two of the league.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose the game,” said Grantham manager Carlton Palmer. “We know they haven’t conceded many and we warned the players they would come at us after the break.
"We had 15 minutes at the start of the second half when we lost control of midfield but didn’t get the breaks. With a few breaks, we would have won that game.”
The Gingerbreads had the slope in their favour for the first 45 minutes and almost took advantage a few times in the early exchanges. Jack Walters had an effort saved by Danny Taberner in the first minute. After Jim Pollard headed away from Matty Gillam on the edge of his penalty area, the Gingerbreads put together a good spell.
Thierry Latty-Fairweather and Finlay Shrimpton constructed a good passing move down the Grantham left, but there was no-one there to get on the end of the final cross from Latty-Fairweather. The full back was in the action again. This time he combined with Nathan Modest to set up Michael Williams, but his shot was deflected wide for a corner.
For a long time, Grantham defended well on the edge of their penalty area, keeping Atherton Collieries at arm’s length. The home side looked for winger Marcus Cusani, but Grantham denied him chances to make anything happen until just before the half hour mark.
With 26 minutes gone, Cusani beat James Williamson and cut in towards goal. From a narrow angle, he fired into the side netting when there may have been better options in the middle. Two minutes later, Cusani worked the ball to Clive Smith who tried to get Gillam in, but Latty-Fairweather cleared his lines first.
Grantham came back at their hosts and Modest and Ali Aydemir worked well together. Aydemir’s final shot was blocked, but the Gingerbreads saw one of many decisions go against them as referee Mr Noonan awarded a goal kick.
After Williams hit a free kick from a good position straight at Taberner, both sides had a penalty shout denied. Eight minutes from half time, Cusani played Gillam through. Nico De Girolamo covered across and Gillam went down under his challenge, Mr Noonan telling the home players it was shoulder to shoulder.
Four minutes later, Modest appeared to be held down by Luca Defreitas-Hansen as the Atherton defender headed clear. Again, Mr Noonan saw nothing wrong with the challenge.
Atherton immediately took advantage of the slope after the break. The second half was only two minutes old when the home side created a chance for Ethan Kershaw. His shot was blocked and fell to Gillam. He also had his shot blocked, but when the rebound fell to Danny Lambert, he had enough room to rifle a shot past Pollard.
The game developed into a midfield stalemate as neither side could create clear chances. Harry Grice ran at the home defence on 65 minutes, got two touches to take the ball past the Atherton back line, but the ball ran harmlessly to Taberner.
At the other end, a free kick whipped into the near post was met by Smith, the Gingerbreads defence staying tight enough to deflect his effort wide.
Atherton’s Gaz Peet ran at the Grantham defence as the game entered the last quarter of an hour and chose to cross when a shot might have been the better option.
The Gingerbreads started to put pressure on the home side, trying to get the equaliser. Latty-Fairweather fired wide from outside the penalty area and when Grice found Aydemir in a wide position, the cross was too deep.
As time ran out, Atherton defended strongly and Shrimpton’s shot probably summed up Grantham’s afternoon – lacking power in front of goal.