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1st Team - Match centre

Grantham Town
Sat 11 Feb 15:00 - The Evo-Stik League Northern Premier - Premier Division Full time Attendance 331

Grantham Town 2 Stourbridge 1

The Glassboys' promotion campaign suffered a blow as Grantham ran out deserved winners at the Meres.

Stourbridge had only Jake Heath’s late consolation to show for their efforts, but in truth that lent the scoreline a deceptive air of respectability on an afternoon in which the Glassboys were second best for large periods.

Manager Gary Hackett handed a debut to new signing Richard Sho-Silva in what was the only change from Monday night’s win against Ashton United. The central defender, who joined from Kidderminster Harriers on Friday, replaced the unavailable Chris Knight. Meanwhile, the week’s other new signing, Kieren Westwood, had to content himself with a place on the bench.

A cold and blustery afternoon saw an opening half in which the home side generally made more of the running, with Stour threatening only sporadically, although clear chances were few and far between at either end.

Felipe Barcelos got clear down the right in the early stages, only to overhit his cross, and then the same player poked towards goal, but straight at Matt Gould, from close range after 8 minutes, after good work down the left by Luke Shaw.

There were vociferous appeals from the Gingerbreads on 12 minutes as Lee Shaw broke clear and went down under a challenge from Sho-Silva, but the referee deemed it to be shoulder-to-shoulder and waved play on.

The Glassboys first effort on goal came with 19 minutes played, as Luke Benbow saw his attempt blocked at close range by Kieran Preston in the home goal, who was then up smartly to save well from the follow-up effort by Ethan Jones. Shortly afterwards Stourbridge forced a corner from which Stuart Pierpoint retrieved the ball at the far post and played it back in, only for Grantham to clear comfortably. That apart, any Glassboys attacking threat was nullified.

There was a blow shortly after the half-hour when an unwell Sho-Silva was replaced by Westwood, and a reshuffle saw Darryl Westlake slot into central defence to become Pierpoint’s fifth different partner there in the space of three matches.

The remainder of the half was largely uneventful until the last couple of minutes, when Grantham twice came close to opening the scoring. First Stefan Galinski headed narrowly over from a left-wing corner, and then Gould produced a superb flying save to tip over Harry Clifton’s free kick and maintain parity at the break.

That parity lasted less than two minutes of the second period, though, as the Gingerbreads’ leading scorer Lee Shaw reacted quickest and stretched out a leg to divert a cross from the right beyond Gould and give the home side the lead.

Stour responded well, pushing forward more than had been the case for much of the first half. Sights of goal continued to prove elusive, however, and Preston was troubled little. Jordan Archer tried an ambitious volley from 20 yards but miskicked and the ball dropped harmlessly wide, and then Benbow almost got away down the left but was closed down and dispossessed before he could make anything of the opening.

Grantham meanwhile, looked to break at pace and more than once opened Stourbridge up only to find the final ball wanting. However, the second goal that went a long way to killing the match off eventually did come on 65 minutes, as another cross from the right found Clifton in the area and he had time to control, swivel and volley past Gould, possibly with the aid of a deflection.

From the kick-off Benbow impulsively shot straight at goal, but Preston was alert and took the ball with no concerns. Meanwhile, a booking shortly afterwards for Archer after he had caught Preston as he cleared led to a second flare-up between the respective coaching staffs in the space of three minutes, and resulted in Grantham Assistant manager Danny Martin being given his marching orders.

Josh Green’s cross from the right on 70 minutes saw Kayelden Brown sneak in at the far post, but his shot was wildly off target, whilst at the other end Michael Hollingsworth twice shot narrowly over in the space of two minutes – certainly on the second occasion he had enough time at least to have made sure found the target.

Substitute Drew Canavan hit the Gingerbreads wall with a free kick from 20 yards out as the game entered the final ten minutes, and then Preston made a rare slip in spilling a deep free kick from Green, with Luther Wildin covering behind him and able to clear.

Stour finally got themselves on the scoresheet a minute into added time. A Tom Tonks throw caused chaos in the home penalty area and with the ball not cleared, Glassboys substitute Jake Heath was able to slam home his first goal for the club through a crowd of players.

And there was time for one more scramble as another Tonks throw bounced up and was cleared off the line by Wildin, although with nobody having got a touch on the ball the “goal” would not have stood in any case.

A second poor performance on the trot away from home sees the Glassboys slip to third in the Premier Division table. With four of the next five matches on home turf, Hackett will be hoping his team can return to form quickly.

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