Grantham Town 0 - 1 Long Eaton Utd
Grantham Town bounced back to winning ways on Saturday, but Tuesday night was a different story.
Both games were decided by a single goal, with the Gingerbreads overcoming North Shields at the weekend but slipping to a slender defeat to Long Eaton United in midweek.
A cold and misty Meres greeted the 212 football fans who chose to spend their Valentine's Day evening watching the beautiful game; only trouble was, it was far from beautiful.
Lee Shaw on the ball for Town with Matt Tootle in support at The Meres on Tuesday. Photo: Toby Roberts
The game began at a slow pace but soon picked up speed, with the early exchanges battled out in midfield.
The visitors had the first chance in the sixth minute when Larell King's long throw found a Long Eaton head, but the ball went straight into Dan Haystead's gloves.
Grantham Town's Josh Waldram has a real spring in his step against Long Eaton United at The Meres on Tuesday. Photo: Toby Roberts
A 20th minute Grantham corner kick was whipped into the six-yard box by Matt Tootle where Wilson caught the ball with some confidence.
The game was becoming faster and more frantic, with action swinging from end to end, as it would throughout, but with clear cut chances few and far between for either side.
Long Eaton's Tom Marshall fired well wide in the 28th minute whilst five minutes later, at the other end, another Stacey long throw was plucked from danger by Wilson.
Town's Declan Dunn and Stacey both had shots repelled by the visiting defence in the 35th minute.
Despite the first half's fast and furious nature, it really was nothing to write home about.
The Blues were awarded a free kick five minutes later. Jamie Walker's 35-yarder found Riece Bertram but he skied the ball over.
The Gingerbreads had a couple of half-chances in the 17th and 18th minutes. Firstly, Josh Waldram's single touch was too strong and it pinged the ball straight to goalkeeper Sam Wilson, and then Joe Stacey's long throw-in dropped in the box but bounced wide into touch without any assistance.
Would the second half improve after half time talks or would it be more of the same? Unfortunately, it proved to be the latter.
The first real opportunity of the half came with 10 minutes played. Shaw was fouled at the side of the box but Tootle's free kick was squandered, with the ball flying over the bar by a country mile.
Long Eaton's next best chance came in the 64th minute when Walker's strong run down the right ended with a ball through to Tom Marshall, but his shot was repelled by the Grantham defence.
Town had the ball in the visitors' box a couple of times, but no-one was able to get a shot off.
Gingerbreads keeper Haystead had to be alert to catch Tom Marshall's 68th minute shot from outside the box, being slightly unsighted with a gaggle of players between him and the strike.
Grantham's defending was starting to look a bit desperate at times as Long Eaton continued to find gaps to exploit.
And Town finally succumbed in the 72nd minute, but it was from a set-piece. Walker's well-taken 25-yarder cleared the Grantham wall with ease and found the top right corner, with Haystead positioned too far to the left to ever be able to reach the ball from his outstretched dive.
Gingerbreads manager Matt Chatfield immediately brought on two pairs of fresh legs in Nathan Tyson and Dan Cocks.
Town's next chance came in the 80th minute when Stacey put in a scintillating run down the left, evading defenders and cutting into the box. He played the ball back but once again no team-mate could reach it to snatch a shot and it was cleared from danger.
The visitors' final opportunity to extend their lead came five minutes later but Luke Cox headed over from a Walker corner kick.
A late 91st minute substitution for Grantham saw Elliott Durrell come on to work his magic, albeit with only three minutes of added time remaining.
After just a minute, Durrell was lining up a free kick, only to see Wilson save down low.
The Gingerbreads were awarded another free kick with just seconds left on the clock. Keeper aystead joined his team-mates in the Long Eaton box, hoping to get some sort of touch to another Durrell effort. The ball finally ended up at the feet of Shaw but he scuffed his shot skywards and referee Mr Mason blew for time.
Grantham Town: Haystead, Tootle, McCrory (Tyson 73), Dunn, Wright (Durrell 91), Hall, Shaw, Waldram, O'Grady, Lee (Cocks 73), Stacey. Subs not used: Jemson, Hayes.