Grantham Town 2 Stourbridge 2
The Glassboys hauled themselves back from 2-0 down to pick up an invaluable point at the South Kesteven Stadium.
After a poor opening twenty minutes in when Lee Shaw twice beat Matt Gould with excellent finishes, Stourbridge went on to dominate much of the rest of the game, and could well have taken all three points with better finishing and a touch more luck in front of goal.
Manager Gary Hackett named the same starting eleven that had drawn with Frickley Athletic at the weekend, whilst only four players were named on the bench, Gurjit Singh being the one missing name from Saturday.
On a chilly night, with a stiff breeze favouring the home side in the first half, Stourbridge showed little in the opening stages of the game to suggest that they were the side chasing a play-off place. Too often aimless balls forward failed to reach their targets, with Karl Hawley and Justin Richards having very little to work with, whilst the home side pressed the Glassboys defence into errors.
It took 13 minutes for either side to create anything approaching a decent chance, but when one eventually did come along Shaw wasted no time in making the most of it, showing good control to get the better of Joe Hull before clipping a left-foot shot beyond Gould and into the far corner.
Within 60 second the Glassboys keeper had to be smartly off his line to collect a through ball, with Shaw again having broken the defensive line, whilst Stourbridge’s first sight of goal came on 19 minutes as Hawley’s hopeful effort from distance appeared to strike Richards before being cleared.
Two minutes later the visitors were in deeper strife, as Shaw again unlocked the defence, this time turning Kristian Green on the other side of the penalty area and curling his shot just inside the opposite post from his first strike.
Stourbridge did at last produce a meaningful move on 24 minutes as Leon Broadhurst’s ball inside right back Danny Meadows gave Matt Dodd the chance to pull the trigger, only for Jake Turner to get enough on the ball to divert it past the far post.
With the half hour approaching, Sean Geddes lifted a ball into the box from which Hull headed wide, whilst there was a scare at the other end as Gould came off his line and jumped for a high ball under pressure from Grant Ryan, which neither of them made much connection with before Stuart Pierpoint cleared.
Four minutes from the interval Stourbridge gained the foothold in proceedings that had looked so unlikely early on. Hawley chased a ball to the by-line, dragged it back and slid low under Turner from a narrow angle to half the arrears.
Relieved to have got themselves back in the game at the break, and with the breeze now in their favour, Stourbridge set about the home side from the kick-off at the start of the second half. Three minutes in, Chris Lait got to the dead-ball line and clipped in a cross that skimmed the top of the crossbar before dropping behind, in what was a sign of things to come.
Geddes put Richards clear on 54 minutes and although the angle was narrow the Glassboys striker will feel he should have done better than shoot wide of the near post with only Turner to beat.
Dodd’s low cross on 56 minutes almost found its way through to Hawley, but was cleared by Lewis Carr, and then Scarr stuck out a boot two minutes later to divert Leon Broadhurst’s cross over the bar, when heading the ball looked the better option.
A surging run from Lait on the hour ended with his shot deflected wide, and then Hawley almost caught Turner unawares with a first-time effort from distance that drifted wide of the keeper’s left-hand upright.
For all these chances, though, Stourbridge still trailed, and frustration began to creep in as time ticked down, with play becoming a little less patient. Broadhurst fired a free-kick straight into the defensive wall with 71 minutes played before Hackett introduced Ashley Vincent and Tom Tonks to pep things up.
Tonks, in particular, was to have an immediate impact with his long throws, and from one such on 78 minutes Dan Scarr brought the scores level. The same combination had already posted a warning two minutes previously when the big defender nodded straight into the arms of Turner, but Grantham failed to learn the lesson and from an identical delivery Scarr was unchallenged as he headed into the top corner.
The remaining twelve minutes saw Stourbridge continue to press, whilst the home side sought to break whenever possible. Scarr was again in the thick of things on 81 minutes as he headed over from Dodd’s cross after Tonks had this time thrown short, before the Gingerbreads created their one serious chance of the half as Michael Hollingsworth found space in the area but, driven a little wide, could only drag his shot across the face and behind for a goal-kick.
Hawley might have snatched it for the Glassboys right on 90 minutes as his volley on the turn from Broadhurst’s knock -down was splendidly pushed away by Turner, but in the end Stourbridge had to settle for a hard-earned point.
The final whistle brought some rancour, ending with Ryan collecting a second yellow card, and with it a red, from referee Mr Park, presumably for speaking out of turn.