Lincolnshire East League
GRANTHAM men began life back in the East league with a win over Boston’s second string, coming out on top in a game that was won and lost at the set-piece, with only one of the five goals scored coming from open play.
Grantham scored three goals from six penalty corners won, while Boston scored from their only such opportunity.
Meanwhile, Grantham’s women were beaten 4-0 by Alford 2nd, running out of steam in the second half having held their opponents to 0-0 at half time.
For the men, David Nix grabbed a brace while Paul Hollingworth and man-of-the-match Mark Gray also got on the scoresheet, as Alex Clark capped an impressive game with three assists.
Right from the start, Grantham looked to impose themselves on the game with good movement off the ball and the short passing game that served them so well against Worksop last week, although they came up against a well-organised Boston outfit that were hard to overcome.
Industrious work in the centre of midfield from Gray and Nix eventually ensured gaps opened up although the Boston goalkeeper was on hand to clear early opportunities created for Clark, Muzammil Pirwani and Hollingworth.
Perhaps Grantham’s best chance of the game before they took the lead fell to John Pennington whose run into the circle was spotted by Rob Buxton but a reverse-stick shot crept just wide.
Grantham went ahead in slightly bizarre fashion on 25 minutes. After the entire team was given a ticking off and a green card for appealing, a short corner was played to Nix whose mishit went over the prone keeper and into the back of the goal.
That Grantham went in at half time ahead by a goal to nil owed plenty to excellent work at the back from David McDonald, Nick Wraith and Martin Halliday, whose efforts ensured that goalkeeper Will Leadenham was barely tested.
The home side knew that they would have to step up through the gears in the second half but they started poorly and just six minutes in, the scores were level when Boston hit back. The visitors forced a short corner and drilled a low shot between Leadenham and Pennington to equalise.
Grantham responded with a goal to retake the lead four minutes later when captain Gray was on hand to sweep home from another short corner and restore the one-goal advantage.
Boston came into the game more and more as Grantham began to lose their shape but the home side dug deep and were rescued on more than one occasion by Wraith, who had a solid game at sweeper.
After further short corners failed to test the defence, Nix found his range with a sweetly-struck shot from the set-piece on the hour to put Grantham two goals clear and give them breathing space.
Grantham hit a post in the closing stages but with just a minute left on the clock another sweeping move was finished off by Hollingworth who pushed the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs, having been played in by Nix.
Nix narrowly missed out on the man-of-the-match award which went to Gray for a tireless performance in the centre of the park, driving Grantham forward and marshalling them in defence.
Grantham: Leadenham, McDonald, Wraith, Pennington, Halliday, Clark, Gray (c), Nix, Willey, Hollingworth, Pirwani, Buxton.