Grantham Town U13 triumph in Shield final
Nerf JPL Under-13 Shield Final
Grantham Town 2
Rushden and Diamonds 1
Grantham Town under-13s travelled to Kingsthorpe Mill, home of Northampton Spencer FC, for the final of the National JPL Shield.
On a large pitch, Grantham started the brighter of the two teams and pressed for the early advantage.
Flynn Slater bore down on goal in the 12th minute but the Rushden goalkeeper saved.
Both teams showed signs of nerves and it was a first half of few chances.
Rushden and Diamonds nearly broke the deadlock in the 25th minute when an astute cut-back from the byline found their striker unmarked in the box. The shot was well hit but Jake Lovelace in the Grantham goal made a fine save from point blank range.
Just before half time, the Grantham keeper saved again, this time bravely at the feet of a Rushden forward. A flailing foot accidentally caught Lovelace, however, and he had to be replaced in goal by Freddie Wheatley, Grantham’s right back.
The tense affair continued in the second half with both teams largely cancelling each other out.
It took a set-piece for Grantham to break the deadlock. A free kick wide on the right was swung in by Sean Bray-Smith and Taylor Redman rose to nod in from six yards.
Rushden responded well though and pressed for the equaliser. They were rewarded 15 minutes from time with a set-piece of their own. A corner was played in from the right and the Grantham defence failed to clear. In the ensuing scramble, the ball somehow got bundled over the line and the game was level.
The tension now rose another level as both teams looked to find a winner.
It came for the Gingerbreads with just six minutes remaining. Substitute keeper Wheatley found Reuben Fogg and the midfielder slid a through-ball to Jack Hall. He outpaced the Rushden defence and, one-on-one with the keeper, coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the net – a goal worthy of winning any final.