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Grantham Town Under 15s take part in the Junior Premier League Champions tournament held at Warwick University

Following their promotion to the Midlands section of the National Premier Conference League, Grantham Town Under 15s took their place at the JPL Champions Tournament held at Warwick University at the weekend.

The Junior Premier Leagues best teams were all in attendance.

The winners of each National Premier Conference Division across the country, along with the play off winner from each region, battled it out to be crowned JPL National Champions.

Grantham Town Under 15s.
Grantham Town Under 15s.

The Gingerbreads made the trip full of confidence following their play off win against Oxford City, but also in the knowledge that against the background of all the Premier Division winners, they were big underdogs for the competition.

With only the winners of two groups progressing to the final, over a gruelling two days of matches, Grantham knew they needed to get off to a good start.

Their first 11 versus 11 match over 40 minutes was against PROCO, the play off winner from the south coast.

Town were convincing 4-1 winners with goals from Rhys Stevens (two), Aston Taylor and Will Phillips.

The second game saw Grantham up against their first NPC winner York City, who had claimed the Yorkshire title.

The Gingerbreads held them in a battling 2-2 draw in a game which really could have gone either way. Goals from Louis Cardy and a deflected own goal were the scorers.

The final game of day one was Town's biggest challenge against NPC North West winners Tranmere Rovers who were unbeaten in three years, had a 100 percent record this season after only conceding 12 goals.

Grantham took an early lead through Stevens, but before half-time Tranmere hit back with three goals to take a 3-1 lead into the break.

Town pulled the deficit back to one goal with another Stevens strike, but Rovers drew clear with two more goals.

Aston Taylor scored a wonder goal from the halfway line from the restart to make it 5-3 but, despite a great effort, it wasn't enough to avoid their only loss of the day.

At the close of day one, Grantham found themselves third in the group, only a point off the leaders Pro Sports Academy, who they would go on to face in the first game of day two.

After a scheduled presentation to receive their JPL Midlands play off trophy and medals, it was the NPC London winners who Grantham would face in the first match up of the second day.

Against a strong, quick and technical team, Town took a while to settle and found themselves 1-0 down early on.

After Harri Bexon in the Gingerbreads goal had made several saves to keep them in the game, Gethan Flint bundled home an equaliser just before the break.

The second half saw a Grantham team showing more belief and were a real threat to the group leaders who were becoming increasingly frustrated.

The game ended all square giving Grantham a very good point to start the day.

Going into the final group game, Town knew that there was still a possibility to top the group and reach the final.

It would take a Grantham victory and a Tranmere defeat as a minimum, but all was still to play for.

The opposition for the last match was Gloucester City, the NPC South West winners.

However, despite being the better side, Grantham couldn't turn their good play into goals and were unfortunate to lose 2-0.

As it happened, Tranmere went on to win their game against York and reach the final, eventually losing out to the eventual winners Bromley.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience for the young Gingerbreads and one that has proven them more than capable of competing at the NPC level next season. The Under 15s can be proud of their representation of the club and the town.

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