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Grantham Town Under 15s are through to the Junior Premier League play-off final

Grantham Town Under 15s secured their place in the Junior Premier League play-off final with a hard-fought win on Saturday.

The Gingerbreads were 3-1 victors over Halas Hawks from Halesowen in the semi-final on the 3G pitch at the Meres 3G on Saturday.

The visitors were a very physical outfit and were intent on making it difficult for Town. It was important for the Gingerbreads to match them and show a real competitive edge of their own.

Grantham Town Under 15s are through to the Junior Premier League play-off final.
Grantham Town Under 15s are through to the Junior Premier League play-off final.

The home team started the game well, creating a few early opportunities from which they really should have taken the lead.

Rhys Stevens received a ball from Charlie Loureiro-Brooks on the left, but his shot flashed past the far post. Loureiro-Brooks then headed over the bar himself following a deep cross from the right.

Aston Taylor broke into the box from an angle but his powerful effort crashed off the near post and out for a goal kick.

Hawks won a corner at the other end which was swung in from the left and flicked towards goal. Town Keeper Harri Bexon had to be alert to finger-tip the ball away at full stretch with the rebound fired wide of the goal.

The chance of the half followed as a low cross flashed along the Hawks six yard box with Stevens latching onto it at the back post. His first time effort was guided towards goal, only for a last ditch clearance off the line by the Hawks defender.

The hard working Will Phillips dragged a shot wide of the far stick after another ball in behind the visiting defence and Louis Cardy crashed a shot off the bar as Town pressed for the important breakthrough.

Approaching the half hour mark, Max Davies hit his shot over the bar from a tight angle, but moments later defender Maks Nowak found himself in the opposition box and was tripped by an outstretched leg, winning his side a penalty kick.

Up stepped Taylor to side-foot home and make it 1-0 to Grantham before half-time.

The second half continued in the same manner with competitive challenges from both sides and with the majority of chances falling to the home team.

Stevens was played down the right and cut inside, but his clipped effort rose just over the crossbar.

Moments later a break down the left hand side saw the ball played across the goal for Phillips whose first shot was blocked by the defender and his follow up effort flew wide of the post.

The next goal in the game was crucial and Hawks were close to pinching an equaliser.

The ball dropped into the box from a corner kick and smashed towards goal, only for Bexon to spread himself and save with his legs to keep it out.

The Gingerbreads forced a corner kick of their own which was drilled into the box by Taylor. With the ball bouncing around, Logan Roberts stuck out a foot and lifted the ball into the top corner of the net to double Grantham's lead.

Taylor then had an opportunity himself but dragged his shot wide of the post and Loureiro-Brooks was unlucky to see his overhead kick strike the back of a defender as it looked to be heading for goal.

However, minutes later Town did score again. Louis Cardy skipped past a challenge into the penalty area before screwing his low angled shot across goal and into the far corner.

With 15 minutes to go, defender Kye Hutchinson suffered a high kick to the face and was taken off with what has since been confirmed as a broken jaw.

Play was stopped for treatment and seeing their team-mate in such a way seemed to unsettle the team.

The following minutes were a little disjointed as Hawks became frustrated and a little rash and Grantham’s intensity dropped.

Another reckless challenge resulted in a second yellow card and a sending off for a Hawks player as they went down to 10 men.

Jacob Price had to be alert as he headed off the line following a powerful header from a Hawks corner.

However, the visitors did grab a goal back following a solo run from deep and a low shot into the corner from the edge of the box.

The final minutes were managed well enough by Town to see them through to a play-off final on Saturday away at Oxford City.

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