HOCKEY: Grantham far from disgraced by Leadenham

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Leadenham 2nd 2

Grantham 0

Grantham returned to action and were far from disgraced by a 2-0 loss to local rivals Leadenham at Cranwell.

For both sides this was the first game since the Christmas break and Leadenham looked the sharper, putting early pressure on the Grantham back line of George Lodge, Graham Johnson, Andy Nix, Nick Jack, Simon Hill and Andy Willey in goal, who nevertheless kept attacks under control, also stifling a couple of short corners in the first half.

Strong play by new man Nigel Baldwin and Nick Wraith in the centre of midfield also assisted the defence and helped bring the ball forward in attack. Wing men Andy Hill and Mark Pearce toiled with some joy, but attackers Muzammil Pirwani and David Braunton did not really carve out any real chances to threaten the Leadenham goal in the first half.

Grantham were happy enough to keep the scores level at half-time with everything to play for in the second half.

A formation change saw Andy Hill go up front and Braunton switch to the right wing, with the early result that Grantham probably had a little more of the play and the game was more end to end than the first half, and Pirwani almost broke the deadlock.

Two short corners and strikes from Baldwin and Braunton were repelled as this time it was Leadenham’s defence that stood firm.

However, the longer the game went on, tiredness crept in, the game stretched and gaps appeared as players strived harder for the breakthrough. It was Leadenham who scored first, counter-attacking quickly to outmanoeuvre Grantham’s defence to take a 1-0 lead.

Grantham strived to try and equalise, hoping to repeat an earlier comeback against Long Sutton, although on this occasion, it was not to be.

Another short corner was seen off and runs at Leadenham by Baldwin, Pearce, Hill, Pirwani and Braunton looked promising, only for another swift counter-attack from Leadenham which led to a superbly struck volley, leaving Willey helpless.

Grantham now look forward to two home games at The Meres, against Alford and District on Saturday and Louth on January 23, with their match against Horncastle on February 6 likely to be the last played at The Meres astro-turf before work begins to turn it into a 3G pitch.