Spalding 4th 0
GRANTHAM beat Spalding to seal the league championship at their first attempt with two games to spare, in the process maintaining their unblemished home record to cap a remarkable first season.
The victory for Grantham, coupled with other results in the league, handed them an unassailable lead over rivals Leadenham, Horncastle and Long Sutton, ahead of their final matches against Alford and Leadenham.
Having left it late to turn on the style and win 4-1 in the reverse fixture, Grantham were expecting another tough contest but for the second week in succession, they gave themselves the best possible start with a goal in the first five minutes. Building on sustained early pressure, a fluent passing move down the left hand side was then crossed into the circle and hesitation in defence allowed Oli Philips to capitalise, sweeping home with the reverse stick from eight yards.
A second followed not long afterwards. Good interplay between forwards Benjie Groom and Dave Braunton on the right found Groom on the byline, where he delivered a telling ball to Hollingworth who finished clinically.
Late in the first half, Grantham enjoyed their best spell of the match as they looked to continue the scoring. The next goal came as a result of a weighted through-ball by midfielder Alex Clark which found Hollingworth in space, but after his initial shot was saved Oli Philips was on the scene to poach his second of the game from the rebound.
Shortly after, Grantham added a fourth. After a purposeful run by captain Mark Gray, Pirwani seized on a loose ball and his first time shot brought him a first goal for the club.
When Spalding’s passes did find a way through Grantham’s midfield, their attackers were often isolated and the home centre defensive line of Andy Nix, Nick Wraith and Graham Johnson were able to neutralise most of the threat.
Despite not playing champagne hockey in the second half, Grantham were still reasonably effective in front of goal, adding three more at intervals through the remainder of the match.
The first of these came from one of Grantham’s short corners – after a Clark drag-flick and his follow up effort were saved it was third time lucky as Braunton was on hand to score from close range.
A driving overlap run and cross from left-back Jem Hill fed Groom and he was rewarded with the goal his composed and unselfish performance deserved, slotting the ball inside the far post beyond the keeper.
Grantham’s seventh came after another overlapping run, this time from right-back Ben Willey who committed several Spalding defenders before releasing the ball to Phillips to sweep home for his hat trick with the help of a marked deflection.
Grantham: Leadenham, Nix, Wraith, Johnson, Willey, J. Hill, Gray (c), Clark, Braunton, Philips, Bejie Groom, Hollingworth, W. Hill, Pirwani.
l Grantham Hockey Club is always on the lookout for players of all ages and experience - men and women - as well as people to be involved with the club. If you are interested visit www.granthamhockey.co.uk, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or pop along to training at The Meres on Tuesdays at 7.30pm.