BLUSTERY weather and going a goal down did not stop Skelmersdale United from bringing three points back from Lincolnshire on Saturday.
And most importantly the victory allowed Tommy Lawson’s men to maintain their four point lead at the top of the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
The first-half was a struggle. Grantham’s South Kesteven Sports Stadium is an Athletics Stadium and is very open to the elements, so a wind that gusted strongly was not good for quality football, it evened up the artisan and the artist and wasn’t good for United’s normal passing game.
Grantham’s Sam Andrews had a go at the Skelmersdale goal from 22 yards in the 11th minute but Skem goalkeeper Ryan McMahon dealt well with the effort then at the other end only a well-timed sliding tackle by Grantham’s best player Jamie McGhee thwarted the impressive Adam Morning.
Gradually as the half progressed Skelmersdale started to cope better with the conditions and attempts by Matty Hughes who shot wide and Rio Ahmadi who had a shot saved by Jake Turner gave a glimpse of what would follow after the interval.
Grantham began the second-half well but the Skelmersdale defence held on comfortably and by the 54th minute Dean Astbury had a pair of shots blocked by the home defence.
In the 57th minute Skelmersdale went very close.
A clumsy tackle on Ahmadi by Sam Purcicoe gave Skelmersdale a free-kick in a central position about 25 yards from goal.
Kenny Strickland took the free-kick and only a magnificent save from Turner rescued Grantham.
Skelmersdale were now having the best of things, but Grantham broke and won a corner on the left, McGhee put the ball into goalmouth, United keeper McMahon was blocked and could only get a partial punch to the ball then after a huge scramble Ben Fairclough managed to stab the ball into the Skelmersdale net to give Grantham the lead in the 61st minute.
It took Skelmersdale just five minutes to restore the balance. Morning dribbled the ball into the home penalty area, Purcicoe put in another clumsy trip, Morning staggered and lost possession of the ball, a penalty was given. Strickland fired home giving Turner no chance.
The referee had an influence on Skelmersdale’s second goal in the 75th minute, though in a positive way.
The official cleverly didn’t give a foul when Morning suffered again and the ball ran to Kevin Leadbetter, he crossed into the box, where everyone missed the ball except Hughes who timed his run to perfection and matched it with a devastating shot from the far post to give Skelmersdale the lead.
Soon after Skelmersdale went in front, Astbury went close twice, and Leadbetter had a shot blocked, while Morning brought a quality save out of Turner.
However, in the 83rd minute Grantham broke away again, McGhee went down after a challenge from Shaun Holden and took the penalty himself.
Blasting the ball so high and wide, that it probably landed in Nottinghamshire.
It was a bit of luck for Skelmersdale, but had the game ended 2-2, it would have been an injustice for Skelmersdale, who by the end had more than done enough to deserve victory.
l GRANTHAM TOWN: Turner, Purcicoe, Andrews, Meikle, Miller, Lewis , King, Towey (Hawes, 86), Smith (Graham, 71), Fairclough, McGhee Subs (not used) Nwadike, Sucharewycz, Robinson
l SKELMERSDALE UNITED: McMahon, Wylie, Holden, Hardwick , McIntosh, Dunn, Hughes, Strickland (Burton, 83), Astbury, Ahmadi (Leadbetter, 70), Morning Subs Tuck, Slater, Paxton
l Referee: N. Guest (Leicester)
l Attendance: 206