Grantham Town 3-0 Consett AFC
Greg Smith (left) heads Grantham Town in front. Photo Toby Roberts (63196741)
Facing the possibility of relegation this season, Grantham Town achieved exactly the sort of result they needed if they are to pull off the great escape and stay within the realm of the NPL.
Town put in an inspiring, hard-fought battling performance, bossing the game throughout, scoring three unanswered goals – and there could have been a few more – against 14th placed Consett at The Meres on Saturday.
The Gingerbreads' prodigal son Greg Smith has returned to the side yet again and immediately made his presence known, heading Grantham in front from a Damien McCrory free kick after just four minutes.
The game soon settled into a comfortably paced affair with Town the main protagonists, as they would remain for the vast bulk of the match.
Elliott Durrell won the Gingerbreads another free kick in the 16th minute and took it himself, finding Lee Shaw whose shot was charged down.
Consett were awarded a free kick of their own four minutes later, with Daniel Barlow's ambitious 45-yard effort hanging in the air against the wind and forcing a high catch from Town goalkeeper Dan Haystead.
Haystead was rarely troubled throughout but did have to dive to tip Jake Orrell's 24th minute corner wide. The resulting flag kick saw Barlow get a free header but it went over at the near post.
Three minutes later, at the other end, Durrell's free kick from half way forced a high catch from Consett keeper Mark Foden.
Foden then did well to react quickly and get a glove to Smith's 28th minute header from a 30-yard McCrory free kick.
Grantham looked sure to double their lead in the 37th minute when Shaw picked up a long ball and lobbed Foden, only to see the ball cruelly bounce wide of the far post on the somewhat patchy, bobbly pitch.
However, the Gingerbreads did make it 2-0 six minutes later. Shaw initially hit the bar with his effort but the ball found Joe Stacey who fired home with aplomb.
Town's first chance of the second half came after just a minute but Stacey's cross-cum-shot went out of play. Consett had a good opportunity three minutes later but Haystead managed to snaffle the ball before the on-rushing Scott Fenwick had a chance to fire off a shot.
Smith nearly doubled his tally for Grantham on 50 minutes but his header skimmed off the bar.
Six minutes later, the Gingerbreads were at it again. Daniel Capewell's foul on Smith gave McCrory a 30-yard free kick. He picked out Smith's head who directed the ball to his skipper Jake Wright. Foden fumbled Wright's shot but no other Gingerbreads managed to get a shot from the ensuring chaotic scramble.
Town keeper Haystead was alert to gather in the 57th minute after Nathan Greenwood nutmegged his shot through a defender's legs. Two minutes later, Greenwood had another shot blocked and then Matt Slocombe fired the rebound wide. Consett's Fenwick had his 30-yard attempt charged down on the hour mark.
Shaw missed an absolute sitter for Town four minutes later, skying the ball over when one-on-one with the keeper.
Another opportunity for Smith to make it a brace was thwarted by Foden who managed to gather his downward header in the 67th minute. Smith then headed wide three minutes later from another McCrory free kick.
Grantham finally made it 3-0 in dramatic fashion in the 76th minute after substitute Nathan Tyson won them a corner. McCrory's flag kick was punched away from danger by Foden, but only as far as Ashton Hall who volleyed into the top of the net from just inside the area.
Consett had a sniff of a consolation goal in the 83rd minute but Fenwick's effort landed safely on the top of Haystead's net.
And the Gingerbreads could have had a fourth three minutes later. Shaw's run down the right evaded the Consett defence and allowed him to put a ball back to Smith who flicked squarely towards sub Mason Lee but he was unable to connect with his overhead kick.
Grantham had one final McCrory free kick two minutes into injury time, a 30-yarder caught by Foden, a minute before referee Mr Donaghey looked at his watch and put his whistle to his mouth one last time.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Tootle (Lee 74), Stacey, Jemson (Tyson 68), Wright (c), Hall, Waldram, McCrory, Shaw, Durrell (Hayes 63), Smith. Subs not used: Munns, Gadomski. Att: 285.