GRANTHAM Town demonstrated a ruthless streak in front of goal to remind Witton Albion what separates the best teams in the league from the rest.

The home side created plenty of chances, only to spurn them.

And the Gingerbreads, who now have collected more points than anybody away from home in the Northern Premier League’s top-flight this term, were in no mood for seasonal goodwill.

Carl Macauley’s men succeeded in keeping Lee Shaw, one of the Premier Division’s best strikers, at arm’s length.

But Jordan Hempenstall is just as nifty in front of goal.

And that made all the difference.

Witton played a full part in an absorbing game, and yet trailed 2-0 after an hour thanks to Hempenstall’s brace.

Goalkeeper Kieran Preston’s interventions, particularly one at his near upright to thwart Owen Dale early in the second-half, were one reason.

Another is Albion’s shooting.

It was often hurried, and as a result imprecise.

Prince Haywood scuffed a free-kick from a promising position into the visitors’ wall inside five minutes, then prompted Preston to scramble low to his right to save a driven attempt.

However Grantham took the lead midway through the opening period when Hempenstall guided a header out of custodian Calvin Hare’s reach from Curtis Burrows’ cross.

Albion continued to attack, and Dale drilled directly into Rob Hopley’s back a goal-bound attempt after cutting inside.

Tom Owens fired against a defender too, and James Foley sliced horribly off-target when it was worked his way.

Dale was wasteful again before the break, failing to hit the target after combining with Foley.

The teenage wide man was more accurate early in the second-half, when he met Steven Tames centre, only for an alert Preston to somehow stop the ball squirming inside his a post.

Grantham were gleeful when they countered to make it 2-0, Hempenstall scampering clear of Haywood to roll past Hare after Albion had cheaply surrendered possession at a corner.

Another Haywood set-piece faded wide before Stefan Galinksi, the away team’s captain, steered a cross from the left into the net with the deftest of glancing headers.

Witton, who had taken three successive wins into the game, looked stunned.

They suffered blow too when Paul Williams, filling in as a central defender in the absence of injured captain Anthony Brown, left the field on a stretcher after falling awkwardly.

Macauley sent on Will Jones, and Tames’ powerful strike – smothered by Preston – was a reminder they still could pose a threat.

Substitute Matty Devine then traded passes with Foley before sweeping down the left before cutting back for Hopley to jab in from close-range.

Another replacement, Jack McMenamy, went close too for Grantham when his angled attempt was tipped around an upright.

Hopley then hooked in a second in the seventh minute of added time, awarded following a long pause while Williams received treatment, to raise Albion hopes.

However they could not conjure a leveller, and the consequences of not scoring earlier on felt painful when the final-whistle went.

Witton | 4-4-2 | Hare (GK), Gardner, Ryan, Williams (Wilson 54), McKenna (Devine 67), Foley, Haywood (Jones 76), Owens, Dale, Hopley, Tames Subs not used Evans, Neild (GK) Goals Hopley 85, 90 (+7) Booked Foley (foul)

Grantham | 4-4-2 | Preston (GK), Potts, Lewis (Batchelor 78), Galinski, Luto, Meadows, Hollingsworth, Wright (Curtis 90), Burrows, Hempenstall, Lee Shaw (McMenamy 82) Subs not used Thompson, Bastos Goals Hempenstall 21, 56 Galinksi 75 Booked Curtis (foul)

Referee Ben Atkinson

Attendance 237