Grantham Town defeated in dying minutes
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Morpeth Town 2
Grantham Town 1
Gingerbreads boss Carlton Palmer rang the half time changes, using all three substitutes to try and get Grantham back in a game they had been ineffective in for the first half.
It had the desired effect as Grantham were the better side after the break, drawing level from the penalty spot. Just as it appeared a valuable point would be coming back to The Meres, Morpeth grabbed a late winner.
Grantham seemed lacklustre from the start, allowing Morpeth possession and seemingly waiting for the ball to be given back to them. For all their possession, the home side lacked any sort of cutting edge for the first half an hour.
Gingerbreads Lee Shaw and Jonathan Wafula had exchanged passes early on, but when Wafula delivered a low cross, there was no-one to get on the end of the move.
Morpeth moved the ball around well and found some space behind the Gingerbreads wing backs. Christopher Reid and Ben Sayer had half chances, but neither found the target.
Despite forcing a few corners, Josh Render in the Grantham goal hardly had anything to do other than fielding over-hit through balls and comfortably gathering a 13th minute header from Jack Foalle.
On a rare foray forwards, the Gingerbreads should have done more with a delightful chipped pass to the edge of the Morpeth penalty area. Wafula had space but his first touch let the ball get away from him for the home defence to clear.
After half an hour, Morpeth picked up the pace and began to threaten the Gingerbreads goal. Henry Eze and AJ Adelekan had some good crosses to head away before Render made a double save in the 32nd minute. Sayer hit a good shot that the Grantham goalkeeper got down quickly to stop. Andrew Johnson closed in on the loose ball, but Render moved quickly to deny him as well.
The Morpeth striker was denied again by Render a minute later, but the Grantham goalkeeper could not keep Foalle out 10 minutes before half time. Sayer was pulling the strings in the middle for the home side and played a through-ball for Foalle to run on to. Two deft touches later, Foalle had beaten Aydemir and Render to open the scoring.
The Gingerbreads rarely threatened before half time, but Morpeth goalkeeper Dan Lowson had to sprint out of his box just before the break to prevent Shaw getting on the end of a long pass from Eze.
With Joe Parkin, Michael Williams and Thierry Latty-Fairweather replacing Harvey Grice, Jake Wright and Rod Orlando-Young at the break, and a change of formation to go with it, Grantham came out a better looking side in the second half. Two early corners and a Wafula shot that Lowson took to his left set the tone for most of the second half.
Six minutes into the second period, Aydemir was sent away down the right wing. He pulled a low cross into the Morpeth penalty area, but it bisected four purple shirts before the home defence cleared their lines.
Williams was involved in most of the good things Grantham did after the break and went close to equalising on the hour mark. His shot from 18 yards out went just wide with Lowson beaten.
A few minutes later, Williams levelled form the penalty spot for Grantham. Shaw was put in behind the Morpeth defence and was chopped down by Reid as he looked certain to score. Referee Mr Kenard-Kettle gave the penalty, but only showed Reid a yellow card, not the red everyone expected. Williams made no mistake from 12 yards out.
Play began to swing from end to end. Aydemir got on the end of a Wafula flick-on and drove a shot just past the top corner from the edge of the Morpeth penalty area. Foalle and Sean Taylor then combined for the home side to deliver a cross that Johnson headed wide at the far post.
Wafula tested Lowson again 10 minutes from the end. His 20-yard effort was parried by the home goalkeeper, but it was the Highwaymen who got to the loose ball first and cleared the danger. Grantham had what looked like a good point stolen from them at the death of the game.
Johnson had hit the post with four minutes to go and the home side took the win with a goal two minutes from the end of normal time. A high ball into the Grantham penalty area was not cleared, despite three headed chances to do so. The ball dropped for Liam Noble on the edge of the penalty area and he controlled it on his chest before volleying into the far corner of the net.