Reaction from Grantham Town head coach Louis Bland after their midweek draw with Dunston
Head coach Louis Bland praised the 'fantastic personality' of his young Grantham Town team as they defied the odds to return with a point from a mammoth midweek trek.
The Gingerbreads had made the 330-mile round trip to Consett to face promotion-chasing Dunston on Tuesday night in a rearranged Northern Premier League East Division match.
They had travelled to County Durham without several players due to availability issues and had Jamie Lewis from their Under 16s squad on the bench.
Grantham fell behind after just 10 minutes of the match but rallied superbly to equalise and earn a deserved share of the spoils against their highly-rated hosts.
Bland said: "We showed great character against a really good side who are the best team I've faced since I've been here.
"The personality in the boys is fantastic though.
"We travelled nearly three-and-a-hours to get there, went 1-0 down after 10 minutes on a Tuesday night where lads have had to finish work early and lost out on money.
"It showed what we have got in this group to play like they did for the next 35 minutes.
"They are young and hungry and, if they keep playing like that, we're in a really good place."
Jack Maskell had given the hosts the lead early on but it took Grantham just seven minutes to restore parity when Luke Horne hit the equaliser.
The Gingerbreads had the better of the rest of the first half before being forced into a disciplined defensive display after the break.
Bland added: "We didn't start very well but, after they had scored, I felt we were the better side from the 10th minute until half-time.
"We moved the ball really well and got into nice pockets in the areas where we wanted to hurt them.
"We were a bit more defensive in the second half which wasn't part of the game-plan but that's a natural thing when you're coming away from home to one of the best teams in the league.
"We defended our box really well and came away with a point which we probably deserved."
The stalemate means Grantham remain unbeaten in 2024 after one home victory and three draws on their travels.
They are back in action at the South Kesteven Stadium on Saturday when they host Grimsby Borough.
They won the reverse fixture in September after two goals from Bradley McGregor secured a 2-1 away success.
However, their North Lincolnshire visitors are one of the form sides in the division and sit comfortably in mid-table.
Grantham moved off bottom spot with their draw on Tuesday night with Bland looking for more of the same from his charges.
He added: "I'd obviously like more points from the run we've been on, but three of those have been away draws and Dunston is a really difficult place to come.
"I was proud of the boys after Tuesday night but we've got a massive game on Saturday and, if we lose that, then it undoes all the good work over the last week so we have to be ready.
"Grimsby will be a good test and, if we play like we did on Tuesday night, it will give us a great opportunity to get more points on the board."
The Gingerbreads are expected to have both Ryan Rushen and Rodrigo Goncalves available again after they missed the midweek match.