New manager Carlton Palmer pleased with first Grantham Town match despite narrow loss
Grantham's first home pre-season friendly ended in disappointment with a mistake in the last five minutes giving Frickley their only clear chance of the game which they duly took. The Gingerbreads had defended solidly and created chances, but their failure to take them cost the game.
Manager Carlton Palmer was not too downbeat. "We were punished for one mistake." Palmer said. "We've changed the whole team across the game, but kept shape and created enough chances to win a game we dominated."
The opening quarter of an hour saw the Gingerbreads solid at the back without creating anything at the other end. Frickley got tackles in while the Grantham front three looked a bit disjointed.
Chances soon began to come. Nenad Smiljanic worked space on the edge of the penalty area, but curled his shot just wide after 15 minutes. Sam Scrivens began to cause problems for the visitors a couple of minutes later. He skipped inside two challenges before driving in a low shot that Frickley goalkeeper Jake Askew took at the second attempt.
Frickley were kept at arms length by a well drilled Grantham back line. Lee Frecklington could only fire well wide from outside the penalty area. AJ Adelekan was perfectly placed to deny Bredley Wells after 24 minutes when it looked like the striker was going to break free.
Half chances came and went at both ends with defences remaining on top. Nathan Modest was eased off the ball when Jack Walters played a good through ball for the striker. The visitors got a shot on target after half an hour, but Jim Pollard was well positioned to comfortably gather the ball.
Scrivens ended the half giving the Frickley defenders a series of problems. He worked his way through a number of challenges, but was denied a goal by Askew. Ten minutes before the break Scrivens laid a good ball back to Smiljanic, but he lifted his shot over the crossbar.
Josh Meade finished the half on a high for the Gingerbreads, curling a shot just wide after a well worked free kick routine. Half time brought seven changes to the Gingerbreads side and they immediately threatened. A cross field pass in the first minute was crossed for Modest, but the Frickley defence just did enough to deny him.
Five minutes into the second half the Gingerbreads hit the woodwork. Walters' cross led to a looping header that beat Askew, but came back off the crossbar. Walters continued to be a problem for the visitors. He got on the end of a long ball from Adam Watson, but headed at Askew.
Frickley were unable to break down the Gingerbreads, they won a series of corners and free kicks, but could not get a shot on target until Josh McCloughlan fired in a low shot that was comfortably gathered.
Frickley finished strongly with an effort from Wells turned over the crossbar a couple of minutes before he got the decisive goal three minutes from time. A through ball found Wells marked by Watson. A slip from the Grantham defender left Wells with only the Gingerbreads goalkeeper to beat, which he duly did. There was no time left for the Gingerbreads to get back on level terms.
Despite the result, manager Palmer was still pleased with what he saw.
He said: “It’s the first match I’ve properly taken charge of. I’ve said to the boys after the match that I was pleased with them. We’ve changed the side completely in the second half with trialists and kids, to have a look at them. That it is what pre-season is all about.
“In all fairness we’ve dominated the match and they’ve scored late on which has come from our mistake. We’ve had good chances all through the match and if we’re not going to take them and score, then there is always the chance we can caught like that and go a goal down
“Playing Frickley has properly given us a tougher test than the side Burton Albion were going to be sending. It was more like what we’re going to come up against week in week out in the league.
“We’re pleased with the restarts, the chances we’ve had, we hit the cross bar. It’s a game we dominated. I thought we looked nice and solid throughout.
“The starting point is not conceding goals, we’re working on making ourselves very hard to beat. We’re working on the system we want to play and that takes time understand and put into place.
“We’ve had a few lads out with Covid, they’ve come back and they’ve had an hour of football which is really good to see.
“Overall with us working on our fitness, working on our style of play, it is disappointing to concede that late goal, but it was a good exercise for us.”
Next up for Grantham’s first XI is a trip to Cleethorpes Town tomorrow for a 12.30pm kick off. Meanwhile, a Gingerbreads XI will also host AFC Liverpool at the Meres tomorrow at 3pm.