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Grantham Town U18 wins against the odds to end season in style

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Notts Youth Football Sunday League U18

Grantham Town 2

Elston 0

Grantham Town under-18s (56988747)
Grantham Town under-18s (56988747)

On the final day of the season, Grantham Town hosted an Elston side high in confidence, having secured their place in the league cup final.

For many of the Town players this would be their last youth league football game together, before moving on to new ventures, including Grantham Town’s new 2022/23 under-18 side playing in the national Junior Premier League.

The season has at times been challenging and once again absences and injuries resulted in a late call to Town’s under-23 goalkeeper Kyle Cole.

On this occasion, he was called upon to play a key role at centre half, with the Gingerbreads' normal number one keeper Rowan Temple-Fielder playing up front (due to a hand injury) and Will Scotchmer making a start between the sticks, having played that stand-in role previously.

The team set up in a 3-4-3 formation, with a bare 11 and players in positions thought to best keep the team competitive, including what proved to be a rare but effective full 90 minutes from long standing and improving team-mate Kian Harper at right wing back.

Both teams started brightly but it was the home side that grew in confidence, keeping the ball better than the visitors. Despite superior possession, chances on goal were limited to set-pieces and half chances, Curtis French and Liam Osborn both pulling the trigger but not quite getting clean strikes away.

Whist the match remained at 0-0, the visitors always looked a danger, both Frankie Wade and Harrison Jones having plenty to do in Town’s back line, with Cole using his trademark goal kick style to hook and clear balls under pressure, but actually with great long passing accuracy.

It was not until just before half time when the deadlock was finally broken with a huge Jones throw launched towards Town’s captain Kyle Polzin who headed in at the near post.

With the second half under way, Town were more than pleased with the chances being created and kept the same tactics, only switching Brandon Bohea from a forward role to left wing back for Osborn. Bohea started the second half brightly, matching defensive discipline with neat play in possession on the flank.

Elston battled with determination, but with set-pieces missing the target their frustration grew.

Town kept the intensity, causing Elston to make wayward passes and indiscipline from the visitors followed.

But it was the visitors who carved an excellent chance. With an opposition player through in on goal, stand-in goalie Scotchmer made a superb save to crucially send the ball over the crossbar and preserve the 1-0 advantage.

With no substitutes, Grantham really had to work hard to protect the lead.

Oliver Durant played his usual unselfish role, sniffing out danger, winning tackles and starting new attacks from a central defensive position.

On a hot sunny morning and in a heated affair, both teams looked to end the league on a high, the referee being kept busy with a couple of bookings following some competitive play, with one or two players pushing their luck.

But it was the home side that further added to Elston’s frustration, scoring the second and decisive goal.

This time, Temple-Fielder battled superbly on his own with three opposition players around him, drawing the foul.

Spotting the keeper off his line, Polzin quickly placed the ball on the deck and struck the free kick from around 35 yards. The Elston keeper hurriedly back peddled but could not keep the pinpoint shot from nestling in the top right corner.

The two teams put on a really competitive performance but it was Grantham’s day, running out 2-0 winners and finishing the campaign in style and against the odds.

l Should any Year 12 or 13 boy (2022/23) wish to trial for Grantham Town Academy Under-18s, contact the team manager on 07788 235407. Training is on Wednesdays at The Meres, 7.30-9pm, with matches on Saturdays across the East Midlands.

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