BY DAN SMITHSHARE
2 penalties, a hattrick, this match had it all!
In their first game since 10th July and first in their new Home kit – what a way to christen it!
Debuts from Tom Willet and Darren Oxley made a great addition to the team, really looking forward to seeing what else they can do this season and starting 11 return between the sticks for Ed Clarke who’d been out for months with a torn abdominal muscle.
The Griffins took the lead in the first half within the first ten minutes, a ball played from Wood at right back into centre, Briggs picking up the pass dropped the shoulder to get past the Mansfield player and played a lovely ball over the top down the wing to Redley, who took it inside and slotted it in the back of the net to the keepers left! A great start and someone thing to build on.
Grantham were immediately comfortable.
Over the next 15 minutes Grantham set the pace of the game, with lovely possession based football, they were comfortable in attack and equally comfortable in defence. Mansfield had a few opportunities at goal but they were either dealt with by the backline led by Jones and Oxley or comfortably gathered by Clarke.
The next phase of play saw Stanhope hold up the ball and play off two identical passes to Briggs, for him let fly from 30 yards the first effort destined for the top corner which forcing the Mansfield keep to make a big save twice. Briggs had a goal of the season taken away from him!
The second goal on the 25 minute mark, a brilliant solo run down the wing by Redley who beat his man and played a dangerous low ball across the box to Stanhope who was there on the prowl for a goal in the bottom left corner. Grantham were very much in the ascendancy
The Griffins’ third goal came only 5 minutes later, Smalley delivered a corner from the right that did not beat the first man and instead came straight back to him, a Mansfield player came sliding in for a tackle in the box and gave away a penalty. Smalley took the penalty and hit the top right corner to make it 3-0 Griffins.
On the 40 minute mark Mansfield played a dangerous ball over the top that threatened the Grantham goal, Clarke came rushing from his line eyes on the ball and hands outstretched to gather the ball the Mansfield striker eyes on the ball running in sideways collided with Clarke at full pace, both players down on the deck. Mansfield screaming for a penalty, but the referee waved away their appeals and gave the freekick to Grantham.
Just before the half time whist was blown Milligan dribbled through midfield and beats his man to deliver a ball into the back post for Stanhope who on his toes again put the ball in the back of the net! That would have made it four nil to Grantham! But sadly the linesman puts his flag up for a very questionable offside! The score stays at three nil.
Grantham saw the first half out 3 nil to the good.
The second half started with the Griffins now playing downhill. Knowing this they switched up the formation to be more attacking but this did not pan out in our favour and Mansfield were on the attack very early on down the left wing.
A cross came in and the keeper, Clarke, managed to get his hands to it, but not enough to secure it. This led to an awkward bounce off the floor and the ball hitting a wayward arm of Jones. An unfortunate tale of events for the Griffins, but this is Sunday league on a Sunday League pitch, anything can happen!
The Mansfield player calmly placed the ball bottom right corner, bringing it to 3-1.
The Griffins were on the attack again putting pressure on the goal, but to no avail and instead, the ball came out to one of the Mansfield midfielders who was free and now on the counterattack. Smith had a man on him, but was drawn to the oncoming player and unfortunately a little too late as a lofted ball was played over his head to their striker who went on 1 on 1 with Clarke to score their final goal of the game. The score was now 3-2 to the Griffins. 65 minutes gone all to play for.
Mansfield were now attempting to a fightback they had belief they could get back into this game.
The match was pretty much split evenly at this point Grantham had many chances but none taken and Mansfield were finding themselves in more attacking phases of play, then Grantham were caught unaware on the back line with another ball over the top, Clarke came out and beat his man on the edge of the box but stayed down holding his neck, after twisting it awkwardly as he defended his goal. This led to a 5 minute break in play whilst the magic sponge came out.
Minutes later Mansfield were attacking again a ball over the top to the left wing saw Mansfield get in behind again!
Clarke looked to come off his line to close down but held and maintained his line the ball came across, an outswinging cross saw the Mansfield forward strike from 7 – 8 yards out, but Clarke pulled off a worldy of save down to his left, which was then cleared up field leading to a cross to Stanhope who headed the ball downwards towards the goal where the Mansfield keeper blocked it but was unable to secure the ball and it rolled out to Smalley who smashed the ball back towards goal and in the back of the net after Stanhope had to jump over the oncoming shot.
Counter attacking football at its finest!
Around 80 minutes in Clarke punts the ball out of his hands up towards Stanhope where he took the ball down with the outside of his boot and beat his man. Playing a diagonal ball through to Smalley for the chance for his hattrick but sadly the keeper saved it.
The last 10 lead to more pressure on the Griffins but this was safely dealt with by the defence and midfield. Briggs played a great ball across goal from the right that was narrowly missed by Milligan for a clear goal-scoring opportunity. However, as a result, Briggs went over on an already injured ankle and that was him for the game.
The last goal came from a quick freekick played down the left by Rourke to Smalley and a quick 1-2 back to Smalley again gave him the chance to take a shot, it was a bobbly awkward one for the keeper as he wasn’t able to get a solid connection on it and it spun off his leg into the goal, Rawdon was lurking for a poachers goal but unselfishly left it for Smalley’s hattrick and just in time for the final whistle to blow shortly after leaving the game at 5-2 to the Griffins.
Everyone put in a shift during the match and we really see the training is really paying off, we build from here and look forward to playing our first league match next Sunday away at Leicester.
It was a great game to watch and some fantastic passages of football being played from both sides. The scoreline was fair, but Mansfield didn’t give up till the end.
Man of Match was a tough choice with some very honourable mentions going to Jones, Clarke, Oxley, Rawdon, and Redley, but it had to go to the man with the hattrick, Smalley!SHARE