AN ALEX Rodman goal gave Grimsby Town an away victory for the second consecutive Saturday as the Mariners won at Hereford United.
In a game of few chances, it appeared as though one goal would be enough for either side to take all three points.
And so it proved, as Rodman struck just after the hour to follow up his match-winner at Nuneaton last week with another crucial goal in Town’s quest for a play-off place.
Grimsby had to see out the game with 10 men after Scott Kerr was sent off for a second bookable offence with around 20 minutes to go.
But they were able to close out the victory and move back level on points with Halifax, who occupy the final place in the Skrill Premier’s top five.
Striker Andy Cook was brought back into the Town starting XI in what was the only change to the team that lost against Luton in midweek.
Cook had been left out of the squad that night but was handed a recall in place of Lenell John-Lewis, who dropped to the bench.
James McKeown started in goal, with Sam Hatton, Shaun Pearson, Andrew Boyce and Aswad Thomas forming the defence.
Rodman, Craig Disley, Kerr and Scott Neilson were the midfielders, with Connor Jennings partnering Cook in attack.
John-Lewis was joined on the bench by Ross Hannah, Clayton McDonald, Joe Colbeck and Andi Thanoj.
The home side were looking to end a long run of 11 games without a win which had seen them slip to within one place and four points of the relegation zone.
Former Grimsby midfielder Frankie Artus was among the starting line-up for the hosts, who were looking to add to the point they picked up in the reverse fixture at Blundell Park earlier this month.
A foul by Pearson gave Hereford an early free kick just outside the Town box but it was hit into the wall by Sam Smith and deflected away for a corner.
Chris Sharp then shot wide after a mistake by Boyce as the home side’s good start continued, before Grimsby’s first chance came when Cook did well to win the ball but Jennings could not find a finish after Rodman crossed.
Midfielder Kinsley James fired a shot that was deflected out for a corner on 10 minutes. The kick from Artus was cleared.
An opportunity for the Mariners came three minutes later when a free kick by Kerr fell for Pearson at the far post but he could not direct it towards goal.
Another free kick to the visitors also provided an opportunity in front of goal when Kerr’s delivery was met by Jennings but his header went across goal and over the bar.
The hosts were the next to attack and they almost took the lead when a cross from James led to Jarrod Bowen shooting into the side-netting.
Kerr was booked for a foul on 23 minutes, before another Town free kick for a foul on Pearson led to the centre-back heading off-target.
Cook won a corner just before the half-hour and after it was initially taken short, Kerr lifted the ball into the penalty area but it was taken by keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston.
A low shot by Rodman was pushed out by Lloyd-Weston for a corner but this time, Kerr’s delivery was too strong and went out for a throw-in.
Town had come into the game more after Hereford’s promising start and they won another free kick when Jennings was fouled on halfway seven minutes before the break.
Hatton’s free kick was cleared after Cook had won the ball in the air but the Mariners kept possession and had a short spell of pressure which saw a shot from Jennings blocked.
Another free kick, given for a foul on Disley, again led to Cook winning the header but it went through to keeper Lloyd-Weston.
One added minute was played at the end of the half, which had been one of few clear chances but had seen opportunities for both sides.
None were taken though, meaning it remained goalless at the break, with all to play for in the second half.
No changes were made before the restart and again, Hereford started promisingly, albeit without troubling McKeown in the early stages.
The home side made the first substitution of the game on 55 minutes and saw Sharp, who had picked up a knock, replaced by Dan Walker.
A cross from Cook was blocked as Town looked to threaten for the first time in the half but the Mariners were unable to keep up the pressure and the hosts broke clear through Artus.
Despite rarely threatening, the Mariners opened the scoring two minutes after the hour when RODMAN cut in and hit an unstoppable left-footed shot past Lloyd-Weston and into the top corner of his net.
Immediately after the goal, Town boss Paul Hurst swapped his strikeforce around, sending on Hannah and John-Lewis in place of Cook and Jennings.
Hannah could have had a chance straight away but for a better pass from Neilson, before John-Lewis tried a shot but missed the target.
A foul on John-Lewis brought a free kick on 67 minutes but Kerr’s ball was over-hit and went straight out of play.
Thomas forced a corner two minutes later and the kick to the near post was flicked on before being cleared.
A double substitution for Hereford saw James and Bowen replaced by Danny Leadbitter and Cory Williams.
Soon afterwards, the Mariners were reduced to 10 men when Kerr was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge.
Hereford saw an opportunity with a numerical advantage and they soon won a corner, which led to substitute Leadbitter heading wide.
Thanoj was sent on in place of Neilson as Town looked to fill the gap in central midfield left by Kerr’s dismissal, with Hannah moving to cover the left-wing position as John-Lewis was asked to lead the line by himself.
Artus hit a shot well over the bar from long range for Hereford, before Boyce was yellow-carded for a foul but the resulting free kick was cleared.
Hatton conceded a corner soon afterwards but the delivery from Artus caused no problems in the Town defence.
Another home free kick came on 78 minutes for handball against Pearson but again, the ball from Chris Bush was dealt with, as Thanoj got it clear.
A burst forward from John-Lewis drew a foul in the centre circle but the away side were unable to create any danger from the free kick.
Hereford had not created many chances in the second half but they could have had an equaliser when Leadbitter drove a ball across the six-yard box but nobody could get on the end of it.
Town could have wrapped up the points through Rodman with six minutes to go as he beat three defenders before shooting but keeper Lloyd-Weston tipped the effort away for a corner.
John-Lewis was booked for a foul that left him needing treatment on an injury, although the striker was passed fit to continue.
More than five minutes of added time were played before Town were finally able to celebrate their victory and another much-needed three points.
They are next in action on Tuesday, when they travel to Wrexham.