Defeat drops Grantham Town into automatic relegation places
By Graham Cowell
Grantham Town dropped into the automatic relegation places in the Northern Premier East Division after a one goal defeat at Shildon who leapfrogged the Gingerbreads thanks to a second half penalty.
The chances Grantham had were not taken and Dan Haystead was the busier goalkeeper.
“It’s disappointing, but the fine margins aren’t going our way at the moment,” said disappointed Gingerbreads manager Matt Chatfield.
“It’s the first goal again that we didn’t get. We had two really good chances to score the first goal and we didn’t take those. Get in front and we can build momentum. As it was, they got the penalty and although we had a couple of chances late in the game, it wasn’t really enough to get us what we needed.”
A heavy pitch nearly led to a late postponement but, despite concerns over one corner of the pitch, referee Mr Burrows allowed the game to go ahead.
Shildon showed first after five minutes when Ben Reay beat the Grantham offside trap. He closed in on goal, but Haystead saved at the expense of a corner. Jack Vaulks met a deep corner at the far post on 16 minutes but missed the target.
Grantham struggled to create early chances, but had a good spell midway through the first half. Lee Shaw set up Jonathan Wafula, but Harrison Bond in the Shildon goal made a good save.
Declan Dunn then made a good recovery to deny a quick Shildon break as Grantham showed some spirit. A Shaw run saw the ball played through to Joe Stacey, but his shot was deflected wide.
Shaw then got on a ball sent over the top. His cross was cleared by Vaulks in front of Joe Stacey. Two further corners for the Gingerbreads led to nothing as the home defence won the ball easily.
Most of Grantham's crosses were too easy for Bond to take with little challenge. Many crosses did not even reach Bond as Alex White won almost every header, a good number without any challenge to him. The home goalkeeper took a 38th minute cross from Stacey at the second time of asking, just before Mason Lee could pounce for the Gingerbreads.
Shildon rallied late in the first half with a corner that was cleared. Vinnie Steels crossed the loose ball for Billy Greulich-Smith but Haystead saved well.
A bright start to the second half from Grantham forced a corner, but that only led to a break for Shildon. The home side ran through the Gingerbreads virtually unchallenged. Joe Posthill was left one-on-one with Haystead, but the Grantham goalkeeper made a good save to keep scores level.
A tackle on Posthill inside the penalty area saw shouts for a penalty from the home side turned down by Mr Burrows in the 49th minute, but three minutes later he was given no choice but to award the home side a spot kick.
White won yet another header at the back for Shildon. Posthill got behind the Grantham defence and pulled a cross back for Steels. His shot hit Damien McCrory on the arm and Mr Burrows had no option but to award the penalty.
McCrory was shown a red card as Mr Greulich-Smith stepped up to send Haystead the wrong way and put the home side in the lead.
Haystead had to make another good save on 55 minutes. Greulich-Smith was played through the Grantham defence, but the Gingerbreads goalkeeper rescued his back line with a sharp save at the expense of a corner.
The 10 men of Grantham forced a couple of corners and put balls into the Shildon back line, but the presence of White denied them any chances at goal.
At the other end, Haystead put Grantham in trouble with a poor clearance on 66 minutes. He only hit Reay with his attempt to set Grantham going and the forward ran straight for goal. The Gingerbreads did just enough to cover back and clear. Posthill got in again a minute later, but this time his shot was deflected wide of the mark.
The Gingerbreads made a triple substitution with a quarter of an hour left and it gave Grantham a different attacking look, but ultimately they failed to score for the 10th time in their last 13 outings. Shaw was sent in by Nathan Tyson, but shot wide.
Posthill had two more chances to seal the game for Shildon, foiled by the offside flag first time, then by another stop from Haystead.
The Gingerbreads finally tested Bond with three minutes remaining. Dan Cocks turned well outside the Shildon penalty area and hit a fierce low shot that Bond dived low to his right to turn away and preserve his side's lead.