Grantham Town triumph in first pre-season friendly
By Graham Cowell
Rossington Main 0
Grantham Town 1
Grantham finally took to the field again just over five months after last season was abruptly ended and duly recorded an away win.
Two different sides in two different formations and two different kits showed the impact of Covid-19 on football.
A 3-5-2 formation for the first half saw Tom Ward make his return at the heart of the Gingerbreads defence, with the first of two different strike pairings at the other end. Both Grantham sides featured a number of trialists looking to impress on the night.
The home side started quickly and almost caught Grantham napping. A quick break down the Gingerbreads right saw a low cross turned goalwards. The ball came back off the upright and was turned in by an unmarked Rossington striker, but the offside flag denied the home side the opening goal.
Grantham settled and began to control the back line and create openings at the other end. Shane Clarke had a chance after 10 minutes, but held the ball too long and the opportunity was lost.
A number of good chances came and went late in the half. Ben Turner saw his header from a free kick turned round the post for a corner, from which Liam Hardy lifted his shot over the top of the crossbar. Almost on the half time whistle, Ash Worsfold forced the Rossington goalkeeper into a good save to keep scores level.
The Gingerbreads had not had things totally their own way in the first half and Jan Budz also had to be alert to keep the game goalless. Five minutes from the break, an overlap on the Grantham left saw a low shot that Budz reacted smartly to, to turn the effort away.
The Grantham 11 used after the break looked more at home in a 4-4-2 formation and only took four minutes to break the deadlock. A low cross from the left into the penalty area was controlled by Remaye Campbell. He turned sharply and fired a low shot past the Rossington keeper.
Hard work by the Gingerbreads midfield and defence built a platform for a number of chances that could have seen Grantham extend their lead. Just after the hour mark, Luke Hinsey fired a shot just wide of the target before Niall Doran saw his shot deflected wide.
Harry Middleton set up Campbell again after 71 minutes, but this time the Grantham striker shot wide. A minute later Hinsey had another chance to extend the lead, but again couldn’t find the target.
Rossington Main had few chances to level the match but kept Grantham on their toes with a fierce effort from 20 yards out with a quarter of an hour to go. The Gingerbreads were relieved to see it fly over the top.
Having been reminded they needed to keep on top of their opponents, Grantham did just that for the rest of the game. A number of corners came to nothing and Harry Middleton again went close with a 25 yard drive that took a deflection to fly past the post.
Gingerbreads manager Martin McIntosh was happy with his side's first 90 minutes of the 2020-21 season. He said: “The players have had five or six sessions so far. They aren’t ready for 90 minutes yet, so it is a build-up to that. There was some sluggish play tonight at times, but we were brighter second half and there is a lot to build on.”