Grantham Town defeat Basford by the odd goal in three
Northern Premier League
Grantham Town 2
Basford United 1
There was New Year cheer at The Meres for Grantham Town who started 2019 with an odd goal in three victory to exact revenge after their defeat at Basford United at the start of the season.
No-one would argue that the visitors were not the better footballing side on the day, but the Gingerbreads showed resolve and battled relentlessly throughout an exciting encounter.
Basford had the first chance in the second minute when Jack Thomas tried his luck with an opportunist lob, but Town goalkeeper Jordan Wright caught the ball above his head.
Wright was in action again two minutes later to get a finger to Matthew Thornhill's cross-cum-shot and tip it away off the post.
Grantham's first real opportunity came in the eighth minute but Kuwesi Offushine's low strike went just wide of the target.
The tension was cranked up a notch in the 19th minute when Revarnelle James stumbled over in the box and referee Mr Saunby pointed straight to the spot. Left-footer James Reid looked slightly hesitant in taking the penalty and Wright immediately became the day's Gingerbreads hero when he guessed right and saved the spot kick.
With justice restored, Town's tails were up and they went in front three minutes later. The Gingerbreads broke quickly through Danny Durkin who put a ball forward to Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson who ran in on goal and blasted in past former Grantham keeper Kieran Preston.
After a 10-minute period of end-to-end play with no real opportunities for either side, the visitors were awarded a couple of close range free kicks in succession, but both were fired into the Town wall.
Grantham had a chance to double their lead on 32 minutes after Shaun Harrad put a ball through to Durkin. Durkin's shot beat Preston but struck the far post.
Basford squandered three goal scoring opportunities to equalise in the final minutes of the first half. Thornhill's half-volley was blocked, Reid's cross-cum-shot went wide and he had another shot blocked.
Town took a few minutes to shake off the warmth of the dressing room after the break and were almost caught out when a header from a corner kick came off the bar. Wright then pulled off a double save to deny Thomas in the 50th minute.
The Gingerbreads doubled their advantage four minutes later with Ross Barrows curling in a cross to his skipper Charlie Ward who headed in past Preston.
It was almost 3-0 in the 59th minute but Ryley Thompson's flick from a long free kick went over the bar and then, two minutes later, a Fortnam-Tomlinson half volley flew just wide of the target.
United's patience and persistence paid off and they pulled a goal back in the 66th minute when Deon Meikle rose highest to head in a corner kick from inside the six yard box.
With the margin of Grantham's lead back down to a single goal, an added extra edge of tension was apparent.
Basford were awarded a free kick on the edge of the D in the 68th minute but Thornhill drove it over the Grantham wall and the goal. At the other end, Durkin fired over following a quick break in the 71st minute.
A minute later, Gingerbreads keeper Wright was once again the hero in pulling off a great save to tip Gregory Tempest's strike over the bar.
There was now a succession of opportunities at either end, including Fortnam-Tomlinson blasting a 20-yarder just over the United bar on 76 minutes and Basford's Tempest skying his free kick from the same distance.
Grantham substitute Tom Siddons headed just wide from a whipped in cross in the 86th minute, whilst his keeper Wright caught a dangerous United free kick high over his head to complement his deserved man-of-the-match award.
Siddons managed to miss an absolute sitter in the first minute of added time and had another chance to restore Town's two-goal buffer a minute later, but he was unable to get a touch to Fortnam-Tomlinson's cross.
Gingerbreads fans had to hold their collective breath for four more agonising minutes before Mr Saunby finally blew to signal the end of a game which secured another useful three points for the home side.
Grantham Town: Wright, Barrows, Luto, T. Ward (Playford 69), C. Ward (c), Salt, Fortnam-Tomlinson, Ofushine, Harrad (Siddons 75), Durkin, Thompson. Subs not used: Nassunculo, McCartney, Jaquite. Att: 270.