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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Steele (55)

Grantham Town

King (22) (OG), Shaw (29), (80)

(0) 1

(1) 3



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Darren Campion


Barwell (A) 4.11.17

The Pitmen's recent run of encouraging form comes to a shuddering halt at Keys Park this evening, as Grantham striker Lee Shaw is the difference between the sides as the Gingerbreads continued to climb the table on this Halloween evening with a fine victory over the inconsistent hosts


Saturday's progress in the F.A. Trophy over Mickleover had meant Rob Smith's side had gone on a five-game unbeaten run in all competitions, losing only one of their previous nine. Smith was again busy reshuffling his pack, bringing Danny Glover and Reece King back into the side at the expense of AJ George and Joey Butlin who both dropped to the bench


Grantham's recent form had been impressive, with the Gingerbreads unbeaten in five games in all competitions. A narrow 1-0 win over Halesowen Town on Saturday had lifted them into the top eight of the league table, pushing some of the more well-established and well-funded sides above them in the Evo-Stik Premier League with their more limited resources


The Pitmen started brightly, with the hosts forcing a clutch of early corner kicks as they looked to continue where they left off at the weekend. Joe Fitzpatrick's delivery failed to find anyone in a white shirt, however, in the third minute with the Grantham defence dealing with the early aerial threat


It was Fitzpatrick who nearly broke his duck for the Pitmen on fourteen minutes, as Jordan Graham's clever back-heel played the midfielder in, only for young keeper Kieran Preston in the Grantham goal to block the shot


Darren Campion found himself in acres of room on eighteen minutes as he made a move forwards and latching onto a through ball, but his attempted lob of Preston lacked height and was easily gathered by the keeper


These missed opportunities were to cost the Pitmen dearly, as Grantham took the lead with their first meaningful attack of the game on twenty-two minutes; a corner kick from Curtis Burrows was flicked on by Stefan Galinski, with Danny Meadows turning the ball on and forcing King to divert the ball into his own net from close range


Ben Bailey was alert to thwart Grantham on twenty-five minutes, making a last-ditch challenge to deny midfielder Andy Wright a clear goalscoring opportunity


Things got worse for the Pitmen four minutes later, as a quick break from the away side caught the Pitmen napping after a Fitzpatrick corner, with Burrows playing Jordan Hempenstall down the line. His pin-point cross found Shaw, who turned the ball past James Wren from close range to leave Hednesford with it all to do at 2-0 down


Both sides were forced into substitutions due to injury, with Grantham bringing on Matt Baker in place of Galinski, closely followed by Sam Oji limping off for the Pitmen and being replaced by Chekaine Steele on forty minutes. This saw a tactical reshuffle for the home side, with Fitzpatrick dropping into a more defensive role to cover for the missing Oji at centre back


Wren was on hand to deny Grantham a third goal on forty minutes, saving well to deny Hempenstall after the striker had headed towards goal from a deep Shaw cross


The Pitmen finished the half strongly, with Fitzpatrick's corner kick on forty-two minutes headed across goal by Jim Mutton before being hacked away by a Grantham defender. This was followed a minute later by a shot from Graham that was parried away by Preston following a scrum in the Grantham penalty area


Smith made a bold change at the half time break, putting on the attacking influence of James Lawrie on in place of the more defensively-minded Fitzpatrick


Lawrie got straight into the game as he tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area on fifty minutes with a low, bobbling shot that was saved by Preston


The Pitmen's bright start to the second half was rewarded five minutes later as a long throw from the in-form Bailey found Steele lurking at the far post, with the winger tapping home to reduce the deficit


The Pitmen continued to ramp up the pressure on the Grantham defence, winning a succession of set-pieces in the next ten minutes as they looked to force home an equaliser. Lawrie's inswinging corner kick on the hour mark was headed on by Mutton and into the path of Bailey, whose header was well saved by Preston on his goal line


Bailey was again involved at the sharp end of the pitch four minutes later, as another one of his long throws was headed on by Glover to Graham, whose looping header dropped onto the roof of the net


With nineteen minutes remaining, Lawrie almost grabbed an equaliser in audacious circumstances, as his effort from the halfway line dropped just wide of Preston's post


 Melbourne got his name put into the referee's notebook for dissent, only minutes after Mutton had also been booked for stopping Grantham from taking a quick throw-in


The home side were once again forced to pay the price for not taking their chances, as Grantham wrapped up all three points with a third goal against the run of play. A cross from Meadows was chested down by Hempenstall to Shaw, who fired past Wren for his second goal of the evening


In the final ten minutes, the Pitmen attempted a late rally in an attempt to get back into the game and rescue a point, with King going close to making it 3-2 on eighty-five minutes, as his shot was deflected away for a corner kick by the leg of Ollie Luto


Steele almost added to his earlier goal with a second with two minutes remaining as his curling effort dropped just wide of the right-hand post. Grantham broke from the goal kick and King found his name in the book for a poor late challenge in midfield on Meadows as he blatantly pulled the midfielder back


In the final minute, Wren denied Shaw a deserved hat-trick as he made another superb stop low down to turn the striker's shot away from goal down to his right hand side


So, it's back to the drawing board for the Pitmen, who had been second best for most of the game in a another frustrating display. Grantham were good for their win, further underlining their credentials as the surprise outfit in the league so far this term, Smith's side will look to bounce straight back on Saturday as they face the short trip across the A5 to another side mired in mid-table and with inconsistent recent results in the form of Barwell


Hednesford Town: Wren, Melbourne , Campion, Bailey, Mutton , Oji (Steele 40),  Fitzpatrick (Lawrie 45), Thorley ©, Glover, Graham, King       Subs Unused: Butlin, Fitzgibbon, George


Grantham Town: Preston, Potts, Luto, Lewis, Galinski © (Baker 38), Hollingsworth, Meadows, Wright (Curtis 90), Hempenstall, Shaw, Burrows (Thompson 85)      Subs Unused: McMenemy, Dasalou

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