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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Grantham Town

Meadows (35), Shaw (38), (78), Dasaolu (74)

Hednesford Town

Brenan (21)

(1) 1

(0) 0



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Dan Crane


Stafford Rangers (A) 26.12.16

There was no pre-Christmas cheer for the Pitmen this afternoon as Grantham Town put the visitors to the sword by taking advantage of Hednesford's oh-so-familiar defensive woes at a chilly South Kesteven Stadium


Another week of ins and outs for Paul Casey had seen right-back Kyle Haynes return to the club from Halesowen Town, as well as the loan signing of young left-back Courtney Wildin from Vanarama National League North side Boston United. Notts County youngster Montel Gibson had joined the Pitmen, also on a month's loan and was amongst the substitutes Defender Calum Flanagan had been subject to a seven-day approach from Solihull Moors and was missing from the squad, whilst the whereabouts of Ashley Sammons and Jamie Matthews were shrouded in mystery with neither player involved. Wildin came in to make his debut for the club to replace Flanagan in one of two changes, the other being Stuart McNaught making his full debut in place of the AWOL Sammons

There was also exciting off-the-pitch news involving left-back Cohen Bramall, who had spent the past two weeks on trial at Premier League side Arsenal and had impressed sufficiently at the Emirates Stadium to be offered a deal with the Gunners, with the Pitmen looking to agree a good financial package with the club for Bramall's services in the next few days


Grantham's form had picked up in recent weeks after a poor start the season, with the Gingerbreads now in the relatively safe position of thirteenth place after five league games without defeat since a 2-1 reverse to Matlock Town last month. Last weekend had seen Adam Stevens' side draw 1-1 at Halesowen Town with Stevens making two changes to the side that had started at the Grove with Sam Purcicoe for Tom Batchelor and Jeremiah Dasaolu in for the injured Felipe Barcelos. Grantham also included right-back Luther Wildin in their starting line-up, coming up against his brother Courtney after joining from Notts County on loan in September


A cold, blowy afternoon in Lincolnshire started with the Pitmen initially on the front foot, as Kyle Rowley's second-minute cross was turned goalwards by Spencer Weir-Daley only to see his effort saved by Kieran Preston in the Grantham goal


Weir-Daley was involved again for the all-red Pitmen in the seventh minute, as a low cross from David McDermott was controlled by the striker before he pulled his effort narrowly wide of the far post with a low driven shot


Gradually, however, Grantham started to come back into the game and started to create clear openings of their own. A minute later, Rhys Lewis fired over the crossbar after being given too much time on the edge of the penalty area by a hesitant Hednesford defence


Dan Crane came to the Pitmen's rescue for the first time in the afternoon on fourteen minutes, making a superb save to deny the in-form Lee Shaw from close range after his defence had only partially cleared a Grantham corner to the edge of the Hednesford penalty area


Crane was thankful for Rowley's positional sense three minutes later, as the right-back headed a goalbound shot from Luke Shaw off the goal line as Grantham continued to press for the opener


And yet, despite being put on the back foot, it was the away side that took the lead against the run of play on twenty-one minutes; a corner kick from Jamie Sheldon found the head of the tall presence of Dan Brenan, with the young centre-back heading beyond Preston to register his first Hednesford goal


Grantham did not allow the opening goal to disrupt their flow, as they continued to have the better of the play and chances; Lee Shaw pulled a shot wide of Crane's goal on twenty-five minutes at the near post after a cross from namesake Luke before skipper Stefan Galinski headed over the crossbar from a corner kick three minutes later

The Pitmen were living dangerously at the back, with a slip from Caines on thirty-one minutes allowing Lee Shaw to pick up the loose ball. Courtney Wildin did well to come across from left-back and push the striker wide of goal, culminating in a wild effort from young forward that sailed over the crossbar and bouncing onto the athletics track surrounding the pitch


After another period of pressure the Gingerbreads got the equaliser their efforts deserved in the thirty-fifth minute; a great run down the left from Luke Shaw saw him ghost past Rowley down the left-wing and crossing for Danny Meadows to turn the ball past Crane at the far post with a downward header


The Pitmen were rattled and failed to compose themselves before Grantham took the lead three minutes later. Lazy marking in the Hednesford defence allowed Lee Shaw to beat the flimsy offside trap and steer the ball past Crane as he raced onto a pass from Meadows unmarked. A simple route one goal but highly questionable marking from the flat-footed Hednesford defence


The Pitmen simply had no answer to Grantham's bold attacking approach, with another chance falling to Lee Shaw in the final minute of the first half as he once again found his way in behind the Hednesford defence but pulled his cross-shot wide of the far post


There was still time for Crane to make another brilliant save in first-half added time, turning Jeremiah Dasaolu's shot away from goal with a superb save low down to his left to keep the Pitmen in the game at the break


The Pitmen will have no doubt had a dressing down from Casey at half time, having allowed Grantham to take control of the game with ease due to poor defending and a lack of cohesive passing game throughout the first half. They initially responded well at the start of the second half through the largely anonymous McDermott on fifty minutes, seeing his goalbound shot blocked by Galinski and turned away for a corner kick to the visitors


The bright and inventive Weir-Daley was still looking most likely player to drag the one-dimensional Pitmen back into the game, seeing a low goalbound effort at goal blocked by Pucicoe on fifty-four minutes

Two minutes later, Weir-Daley did well to break through the Grantham offside trap down the left before cutting inside and driving in a low shot that was deflected away for a corner kick by the outstretched leg of Galinski


Weir-Daley's strike partner Tony Clarke had offered little in terms of an attacking threat for the Pitmen and was predictably replaced by Reece Leek on sixty-one minutes after looking a little out of his depth against a well-organised Gingerbreads defence


Crane was back in action for the Pitmen once more on sixty-two minutes, making another good stop to deny Lee Shaw a third goal for Grantham by parrying the striker's angled drive away from goal

A free-kick from the unusually quiet Tom Thorley found Brenan's head on sixty-five minutes, but the ball sailed high and wide of Preston's goal as the lanky defender got underneath the inswinging cross


Substitute Leek looked to make an impact on the game on seventy minutes but headed Courtney Wildin's cross high over the crossbar at the far post after making a late dart into the Grantham penalty area


The home side finally put some daylight between themselves and the Pitmen on seventy-four minutes with another simple but effective break. Once again it was Lee Shaw that did the damage, getting in behind the Pitmen's woeful defence once more down the left before pulling the ball across to Dasaolu, who slotted home to make it 3-1 with a simple tap-in past a horribly exposed Crane


The Pitmen made a double change on seventy-seven minutes, with Luke Shearer coming on for McDermott and Gibson making his debut as he replaced the disappointing Sheldon


The Pitmen were the architects of their own downfall a minute later, as a comedy of errors saw a Meadows cross from the right turned onto his own crossbar by Gavin Caines via a touch from Crane only for the ball to fall kindly to Lee Shaw, who scored Grantham's fourth standing a matter of inches from goal

Gibson was denied a chance to make an impact on eighty-one minutes as he was pulled back for an offside against him as he raced onto a pass from Thorley, before Thorley's inswinging corner kick was stabbed wide by Leek at the far post two minutes later. In truth, the game was already well out of the Pitmen's reach at this point as they looked for a simple consolation to cling on to in the latter stages of a game that had ebbed away from them in the second half


A step backwards for Casey's side today then after successive wins had suggested they were going in the right direction once more, only to fall to this poor away defeat. The Pitmen fall to fifth in the table ahead of the busy Christmas period and will need to work hard on the training pitch in the next week or so, particularly in defence, if they are to improve against local rivals Stafford Rangers when they visit Marston Road on Boxing Day


Grantham Town: Preston, Wildin, Storey, Purcicoe, Galinksi ©, Meadows (Wright 83), Clifton, Lewis (Martin 80), Dasaolu, Lee Shaw, Luke Shaw       Sub Unused: Martin


Hednesford Town: Crane, Rowley, Wildin, McNaught, Caines, Brenan, Sheldon (Gibson 77), Thorley ©, Clarke (Leek 61), Weir-Daley, McDermott (Shearer 77)       Subs Unused: Mutton, Forsyth

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