RICHARD Brodie’s second goal in as many games ensured Grimsby Town maintained their three-point lead at the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier with victory over AFC Telford United.
The Mariners were made to work hard for the single-goal success over their visitors, who are now without a win in 18 league games.
Town started slowly but grew into a first half where neither side could create enough to seriously trouble either goalkeeper.
But the hosts started the second half well and got their reward through Brodie’s goal, which proved to be decisive despite a late Telford rally.
Joe Colbeck replaced Jamie Devitt as one of two changes to the Town side that beat Alfreton last time out.
The other alteration saw Derek Niven come into the team in place of Andi Thanoj, who dropped to the bench after appearing for Albania’s under-21 side in midweek.
James McKeown began in goal, with Sam Hatton, Shaun Pearson, Ian Miller and Aswad Thomas forming an unchanged back four.
Colbeck started on the right side of midfield, with Niven slotting in alongside Craig Disley in the middle and Marcus Marshall completing the quartet on the left.
Brodie was given the nod to continue alongside Andy Cook in attack, which meant Ross Hannah again had to settle for a place on the bench.
The former Bradford striker was joined there by fellow forwards Dayle Southwell and Lennell John-Lewis, with Thanoj and Bradley Wood completing the list of substitutes.
Telford travelled north looking to stop a winless run stretching back to early October, with new manager Mark Cooper looking to four new signings to bring about a change in fortunes.
Three of those new players - Ian Craney, Bagasan Graham and Karlton Watson - started the game, with the fourth, Charlie Henry, beginning on the bench.
Town started the game on the attack and they almost had the first chance when Colbeck sent a header through for Brodie but visiting keeper Ryan Young got to the ball first.
Telford were also looking to attack in the early stages of the game, with striker Jake Reid at the heart of the away side’s forward moves.
A low cross from Colbeck on the right had to be intercepted by Watson before it could reach Cook on the six-yard line on seven minutes.
Brodie won the first corner of the game on 11 minutes when his cross was blocked and Cook’s header from Colbeck’s delivery took a deflection and looped over the bar for another flag-kick, which was cleared.
Steve Jones hit a 20-yard shot over McKeown’s bar soon afterwards as the away side launched another attack through winger Graham, who was proving to be one of the Bucks’ main threats.
A foul on Reid gave Telford a free kick in a central position on the quarter-hour but Kris Taylor’s 30-yard shot from it flew wide of the mark.
Cook made a chance for himself after getting the ball on the edge of the Telford box on 20 minutes and working his way past two defenders. The striker cut into the penalty area and created an opening for a shot but his effort was beaten away by Young and Disley’s follow-up was blocked for a corner.
Town had been guilty of giving possession away in the early part of the game but they were beginning to get on top at the midway point of the first half and another corner came when a cross meant for Brodie was put behind.
Hatton then fizzed a shot from 25 yards that Young had to push wide, also for a corner. The Town pressure continued as it led to yet another flag-kick, this time on the opposite left flank, but Colbeck’s ball was knocked away from danger.
A spell of Telford possession came to nothing just before the half-hour, then Grimsby’s next attack saw Colbeck switch play to Marshall and he cut in from the right before curling a shot that proved comfortable for Young.
A Town free kick midway inside the Telford half led to a throw-in off right-back Will Salmon level with the penalty area but the Mariners could not make anything from it.
Ryan Valentine sent a shot over the bar from 25 yards as McKeown remained untroubled in the Grimsby goal with 32 minutes on the clock.
Marshall then found Niven on the edge of the box at the other end but the midfielder could not hit the target with his shot, which went over the bar and into the Osmond Stand.
A foul by Disley on Reid gave the visitors a free kick around 30 yards from goal but Craney’s shot from it was poor, with the ball bouncing through to McKeown.
Graham won a corner for Telford on 38 minutes but Taylor’s left-wing delivery was headed away by Pearson.
A foul on Reid two minutes later gave the away side another chance to pressurise the Town goal but Taylor could only hit his shot high and wide, with the ball going onto the roof of the Pontoon Stand.
Brodie had a chance at the other end soon afterwards, cutting in from the right and curling a shot just wide of the far post from the edge of the penalty area.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and with no further chances for either side, the game remained goalless at the break.
Town had struggled in the first part of the half and although they improved as the game went on, they would still have been disappointed not to have put more pressure on the Telford goal.
No changes were made before the restart and the Mariners were almost ahead within 20 seconds, when a cross from Thomas on the left was headed towards goal by Cook but keeper Young did well to tip the ball over the bar.
The Mariners clearly had the words of their managers ringing in their ears at the start of the second half as they tore into Telford and they took the lead on 47 minutes. Colbeck’s through-ball found BRODIE and the striker took the ball into the box before prodding past Young at his near post.
Brodie did well to win a corner off defender Jordan Rose on 51 minutes and after Telford initially failed to clear Colbeck’s delivery, they eventually escaped when Graham chested the ball back to his goalkeeper.
The away side took ten minutes to launch their first meaningful attack of the second half, with Graham winning a corner on the left, before McKeown had to be alert to make a catch after Craney got a touch on the six-yard line when the ball was sent back into the box after the kick was half-cleared.
At the other end, a free kick for a foul on the left was driven towards the far post by Colbeck but Young was there to claim the catch.
A shot by Colbeck was blocked on 58 minutes, before Niven’s follow-up effort was deflected for a corner.
That led to a free kick on the right, close to the edge of the box, for a foul by Rose on Cook. Hatton’s kick was half-cleared, before Marshall sent the ball back in from the left for Pearson to hit an overhead shot at Young.
John-Lewis replaced Brodie up front for Town just after the hour, with Telford bringing on Henry for Steve Jones at the same time.
Town thought they had doubled their advantage when a cross from the left was met by Cook but although he found the net with a superb header, the goal was ruled out as the offside flag went up against the former Barrow striker.
A low cross from Marshall on the left was cleared for a corner as the Mariners continued to look for a second goal but John-Lewis missed the target with his header at the far post.
Niven had to concede a corner at the other end to deny Reid after the striker had beaten Pearson but the midfielder’s covering ensured he could not get a shot in.
The delivery from the right was headed clear by Disley, before Craney hit a shot that flew wide.
The game stopped for Thomas to receive treatment on a nose injury after he went down inside his own penalty area as a free kick was pumped in by Salmon. The left-back was passed fit to continue though.
Craney attempted to lob McKeown with a shot from 25 yards on 80 minutes but the keeper was able to watch it sail over his bar.
Hannah replaced Marshall for the Mariners for the last ten minutes, with John-Lewis switching to the right wing as Hannah slotted in alongside Cook up front.
Cook sliced a shot wide of the near post soon afterwards, before Craney flashed another effort over the bar for Telford and Reid forced McKeown into action to stop his 25-yard drive at the second attempt.
A foul by Hannah gave the visitors a free kick inside the Town half with five minutes to go but Valentine’s kick was cleared by Thomas into the path of Hannah, who could only steer a shot narrowly wide of the far post from 18 yards.
Good play by Disley in midfield saw the skipper find Cook with a ball to the edge of the box and the striker won a corner, which was tipped away from danger by Young.
Four minutes of added time were signalled and Telford rallied, coming forward in an attempt to salvage something from the game.
Some desperate defending was needed but Town held firm and after substitute Jay Smith wasted a free kick from a good position, the home victory was complete.
Grimsby are next in action on Tuesday, when they travel to Nuneaton.
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