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Battling Grantham Town go unrewarded with no points and no goals

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Northern Premier League Premier Division

Grantham Town 0

Atherton Collieries 1


It is a well-worn cliché, but this was truly a game of two halves, with the Gingerbreads pinned in their own half for much of the first 45 minutes and then having by far the bulk of goalscoring opportunities after the break, but to no avail.

Atherton set up camp in the Grantham half from the kick-off and went in front with less than 20 minutes played, whilst the second half saw a rejuvenated, more aggressive Town come out and dominate virtually the whole of the period.

The visitors' first shot on goal came in the 13th minute, but Aaran Smith fired straight at Town goalkeeper Jim Pollard.

Grantham's initial move of real promise came a minute later, ending with Michael Williams driving just wide from 25 yards.

Atherton scored in the 18th minute when Danny Lambert crossed for Luca Hansen to power a header in past Pollard.

Although Collieries continued to keep Town penned in their own territory for much of the half, they had very few clear cut chances on goal.

A good move involving new Grantham striker Ricky Miller and Rod Orlando-Young in the 24th minute ultimately came to nothing.

Miller won a corner kick 10 minutes later. A well-worked flag kick saw Williams pick out Greg Smith who had run into a gap, but the number nine was unable to get a shot off.

At the other end, on 39 minutes, Ethan Kershaw's corner kick was headed over the bar by Grantham's Mathieu Racine – and headed slightly too close to the bar for comfort at that. He made amends by heading the resulting corner well clear from danger this time.

The final couple of minutes of the half saw Atherton's Kerhaw head wide and Lambert fire over from 20 yards.

In his first game at home, new Gingerbreads boss Dennis Greene introduced substitutes Jonathan Wafula and Finley Shrimpton at half time, and it looked like a different team from thereon.

With the wind and swirling rain now at their backs, Grantham suddenly became the aggressors and the chances came at a canter with a much improved performance all round.

Their opportunities ramped up from around the hour mark, with Smith driving into the rear stanchion and a minute later setting up Miller whose shot was repelled by Atherton keeper Luke Hutchinson.

It was Smith again on 64 minutes, heading just over from a 30-yard free kick.

In the 67th minute, Miller ran down the left flank and cut back for Shane Clarke whose effort was charged down. The ball eventually found Shrimpton who drove just over from 25 yards.

Clarke fired his 72nd minute effort over the target from the edge of the penalty area whilst, seven minutes later, Wafula found himself through on goal but managed to lose control of the ball which ran through to keeper Hutchinson before he could recover it.

The edge of the seat action continued for Gingerbreads fans in the 81st minute when Smith's header to the far post, from an Orlando-Young corner, was cleared off the goal line. Smith was at it again seconds later with a copycat header, with Hutchinson this time pulling off a near-miraculous save to tip the ball round the post.

Orlando-Young won a corner for Town on 90 minutes. By now having been deservedly awarded Grantham's man of the match, Smith tested Hutchinson again with yet another header from Shrimpton's flag kick, but the Atherton stopper was not to be beaten and must surely have earned the visitors' own man of the match merit.

The Gingerbreads' final opportunity to grab a share of the spoils came in added time. Ali Adeymir got through on goal one-on-one with Hutchinson but the Collieries keeper got a touch to the ball, enough to knock the Town number seven off kilter.

The Meres faithful prayed for a few more minutes to be added on, but referee Mr Tracey blew for time with their prayers unanswered.

Grantham Town: Pollard, Yala, Grant, Clarke, Williamson (c), Racine, Adeymir, Williams, Smith, Miller, Orlando-Young. Subs not used: Ofoegbu, Adebayo, Adelekan. Att: 212.

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