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Grantham Town Under 15s have secured promotion to the National Premier Conference League

Grantham Town Under 15s have won promotion to the National Premier Conference League after a tremendous 3-2 success against Oxford City.

Held at Oxford City's RAW Charging Stadium in gleaming sunshine, everything was set for a fantastic Junior Premier League Midlands play-off final.

The young Gingerbreads were charged up themselves right from the first whistle as they pressed the unbeaten Oxford side, giving them very little time on ball from the outset.

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

Indeed Town couldn't have made a better start.

After two minutes, Rhys Stevens flicked the ball to Will Phillips just inside his own half, who in turn guided it over the top for Aston Taylor to run on to.

Taylor composed himself before slotting the ball into the corner to send Grantham's travelling party into celebration.

The Gingerbreads were in determined mood and were immediately ready to get about the opposition from the restart.

They really should have doubled their lead moments later as Stevens broke down the right before cutting the ball back to Louis Cardy in a central position. However, his first time effort was palmed over the bar and out for a corner.

Taylor and Stevens were causing problems for City's backline and the former won his team a free-kick on the left side of the box.

The kick was cleared only as far as Cardy who received the ball 30 yards from goal before unleashing a dipping shot that crashed off the underside of the bar.

Stevens, however, was first to react and headed the rebound beyond the keeper and into the net to make it 2-0 to Town.

Oxford were limited to minor opportunities as Grantham worked hard in the press. However, a miss hit cross caused a moment of concern as it clipped the top of the bar and away to safety.

Gethan Flint had a shot from the edge of the box but failed to trouble the City goalkeeper, and an Oxford effort at the other end flew over the bar from an angle.

Taylor smashed home an indirect free kick that would have made it 3-0, following the handling of a back pass by the City keeper.

However, the referee adjudged the wall to have moved and surprisingly penalised Grantham by pulling it back for a retake. The second effort was blocked by a pack of on-rushing defenders and hacked away.

There was, however, a small blemish on Grantham’s excellent first half display as Oxford pulled a goal back before the break. A corner from the right was swept in from the edge of the six yard box.

Oxford soon tried their luck from long range as the second half got underway, but four minutes in Gethan Flint dispossessed a City midfielder after being put in danger by his goalkeeper.

Cardy collected the ball to lift his shot over the outstretched arms of the keeper and into the net to restore Town's two goal advantage.

Around the midway point of the second half, Grantham went down to 10 men for an eight minute period, following a fairly harsh sin binning.

Visiting keeper Harri Bexon then saved twice as Oxford looked to take full advantage and get back into the game, firstly parrying out a powerful angled drive, followed by a close range block with his feet.

As the game entered its final quarter, Oxford converted from another corner to put real pressure on Town's resolve and reduce their lead to one goal.

However, as the Gingerbreads defended resolutely against the City attack, at the other end Max Davies was unlucky not to add to their lead as he latched onto a defensive mistake on the right flank. His attempted lob towards goal was unfortunate to drop onto the roof of the net.

As the game entered injury time, Oxford forced a series of wide free-kicks and corners that were pumped into the box in a desperate attempt to snatch a late equaliser.

Keeper Bexon did well to punch clear under pressure and the Town defence did enough to put off the City forward as he headed wide from another set piece.

As the seconds ticked by, Grantham forced the play into the far corner and the referee blew the final whistle to cue jubilant scenes among the players, parents and supporters.

The Under 15s now take their place at the Junior Premier League Champions Weekend held at Warwick University on May 18 and 19.

They are already promoted to the JPL National Premier Conference League for their forthcoming Under 16 season starting in September.

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