Grantham Town 1 - 0 North Shields
Grantham Town notched up a much needed win against North Shields at home on Saturday.
Grantham Town's new signing, striker Chris O'Grady (centre) challenges for an aerial ball with a North Shields opponent. Photo: Toby Roberts
The Gingerbreads dominated the game in general, even when it was scrappy, and only had to face 10 men for the vast majority of it.
Conditions at The Meres were unseasonably mild, calm and decidedly grey – but Shields' Paul Van-Zandvliet saw red in the second minute when referee Mr Donaghey had no hesitation in sending him off for elbowing Matt Tootle.
The game began at quite a pedestrian pace with Grantham showing the most threat, keeping the visitors on the back foot and defending ever deeper, although with no clear cut chances for the home side.
Town best real opportunity came in the 23rd minute. Lee Shaw ran in on the left and crossed to Mason Lee whose shot was deflected wide for a corner. Tootle's flag kick was headed goalward by impressive Gingerbreads debutant Chris O'Grady but Shields managed to clear off the line.
The visitors' threatened in a rare foray into the Grantham half on 29 minutes, from a dangerous Stephen Foster cross on the goal line, but Town goalkeeper Dan Haystead caught high to deny Dave Palmer at the near post.
The pace of play could hardly be called breakneck but the Gingerbreads continue to control it and for a brief period were literally walking the ball around the pitch as they retained the bulk of possession.
Shields did threaten again in the 40th minute when Foster curled in a dangerous cross but, fortunately for Town, no opposition player managed to get a touch.
The final chances of the half saw Grantham's Lee scuff wide in the 43rd minute and Shields skipper Connor Oliver trying his luck from a 40 yard free kick, the ball only just dropping over the bar.
The second half did see Shields come into the game more but it was Town who had the first opportunity on 48 minutes when O'Grady headed wide of the near post from a Joe Stacey corner.
A good Gingerbreads move in the 56th minute saw Tootle run down the right to the goal line and cut back for Shaw, but the ball just evaded him.
Grantham substitute Nathan Tyson headed wide on 61 minutes whilst four minutes later, at the other end, Oliver drove his shot into the ground and wide of the target. Another four minutes after that, Shields' Chris McDonald had a shot on target but it was caught confidently by Haystead.
The Gingerbreads went in front in the 75th minute when, in a bit of a scramble, O'Grady nodded his header square to Lee and he dinked the ball into the back of the net. The somewhat vocal Robins supporters simultaneously all lost their voices. Maybe they had overdone the singing?
But the visitors almost equalised five minutes later, however, fortunately for Town, Callum Larmouth's effort struck the bar. And then a minute after that, Cameron Cunningham hit a low drive but Haystead smothered the ball at the near post.
The visitors had a couple more chances to level, the best being sub Liam Doyce's dangerous looping ball into the box from 30 yards in added time, but again Haystead came to Grantham's rescue with a catch.
Grantham had a final opportunity to double their lead in the fourth minute of injury time when sub Elliott Durrell put in a beauty of a ball through to Lee. He was hacked down on the goal line but Mr Donaghey only awarded a corner as Lee limped to the dugout, seconds before the referee blew for time.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Tootle, Stacey, Dunn, Wright (c), Hall, Shaw (Waldram 89), Hayes (Durrell 74), O'Grady, Cocks (Tyson 58), Lee. Subs not used: Jemson, McCrory. Att: 238.