Lincolnshire Senior Shield Rd 2: Grantham 3 Stamford 2

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BOTH sides had players missing for this Second round match of the Lincolnshire Senior Shield on Saturday.

That meant for Stamford yet another back four line-up with Michael Jacklin and Dan Barratt at a wedding and Miles Chamberlain still not recovered from a groin strain. Two new signings, striker Greg Smith and centreback Jack Davies started with a third keeper Lee Windrum on the bench.

The first chance went to Grantham after only a few seconds but Jamie McGhee, under pressure from Chris Gray pulled his shot wide.

Stamford were using the big Greg Smith as a target man and he had Stamford’s first chance, first controlling the ball well but his shot was straight at Rob Murray in the Grantham goal.

Gio Carchedi fought hard to win the ball back before crossing to Sam Saunders but Smith forced a hurried shot over the bar.

Stamford took the lead after 15 minutes when the Grantham defence missed a long clearance from Mario Ziccardi allowing Jake Gibson to get behind and he calmly drove the ball past Murray.

Grantham should have equalised after 22 minutes but Carchedi, unmarked and central on goal, managed to head wide. They went close again when a fierce shot from Sam Purcicoe hit the side netting.

Grantham might have created more chances but Stamford were well in the game with both Smith and Gibson causing problems. Lee Beeson and Sam Mullarkey combined to set up Gibson but this time his shot was too close to Murray. Seconds later Smith again won his battle with Saunders to get behind the Grantham defence. His shot beat the advancing Murray but went past the far post.

Lee Beeson tweaked a hamstring and after a short test before the restart it was decided not to risk further damage and he was replaced by Dean Oliver.

Ten minutes went by before either side created a chance and it went to Sam Mullarkey but he shot straight at Murray.

Then Stamford had an even better chance to increase their lead when Gibson charged down a clearance. His shot was blocked by Murray and Gibson squared the loose ball to Mullarkey but his shot was hurried and cleared the bar with ease.

Grantham equalised just before the hour and it started with a strange incident when the ball slowly went past three defenders before reaching Ziccardi. His clearance was quickly played wide to McGhee and, although Ziccardi got a hand to his shot, the ball curled into the net with Matt Cook unable to clear the ball off the line.

The goal lifted Grantham and from then they dominated play, over-running Stamford in midfield. That put the defence under pressure and a poor header from Cook went straight across goal to Purcicoe but he shot over the bar.

Grantham took the lead on 65 minutes but the goal came with a huge stroke of luck when a clearance from Gray bounced off a Grantham player straight to Rhys Lewis. He had time to place the ball wide of Ziccardi.

Grantham should have increased their lead with a superb cross from Rob Norris but Phil Watts managed to head wide at the far post. Next McGhee played a superb ball across field for Norris but his shot was blocked by the legs of Ziccardi.

Completely against the run of play Stamford were level after 82 minutes. Saunders missed a long through ball allowing Mullarkey in behind him. Murray got a hand to the shot but Mullarkey followed up and drove the ball home.

Grantham scored their winner with three minutes left. Ziccardi made another great save with his legs but the ball was played to McGhee who smashed the ball home.

In the dying seconds of stoppage time Stamford came close to an unlikely equaliser when Dan Cotton curled in a freekick which just shaved the post.

Stamford can have no complaints at the result. Grantham dominated the last 30 minutes of the game and might have scored more. It might have been another makeshift Stamford defensive line-up but a lot of goals have been conceded in pre-season games and the defence has to be tighter starting with the next game which is the first of the league campaign.

Stamford: Mario Ziccardi, Matt Cook, Stuart King, Danny Brooks (Danny Cotton 81), Jack Davies, Chris Gray, Lee Beeson (Dean Oliver 46), Andy Toyne, Greg Smith, Sam Mullarkey, Jake Gibson. Subs not used: Danny Steadman, Lee Windrum