Tamworth 0 Town 2
SECOND-HALF goals from skipper Craig Disley and substitute Alex Rodman earned Grimsby Town a hard-fought 2-0 win at a physically imposing Tamworth side this afternoon.
For long periods the Mariners had to combat an aerial assault from the home side but Paul Hurst's men created the better chances on the day and were full value for their win with a thoroughly professional performance.
The Town boss named an unchanged side from the one that were so unlucky not to topple rivals Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup last weekend. The home side lined up with a side full of six-footers and it became obvious from the early exchanges that they would look to dominate the game in the air.
But it was the visitors who started the better of the two sides, creating three good opportunities in the first 20 minutes. Joe Colbeck released Ross Hannah through the centre but he was forced wide and his cross-cum-shot was too far in front of strike partner Lenell John-Lewis.
As the game approached the quarter-hour mark the Mariners broke down the right again. This time it was Colbeck who found himself in space but his low effort was inches in front of Disley and fizzed past the far post.
Sam Hatton then delivered a free kick from out wide that John-Lewis reacted too quickest but home stopper Cameron Belford did enough to scramble the ball away from his goal line.
But then the Lambs started to unleash the aerial bombardment. Capaldi whipped in a corner from the left that was misjudged by McKeown but Disley was on hand to clear his lines.
Former Cheltenham man Justin Richards was a threat up front for the hosts and he wriggled clear of Clayton McDonald but the big defender did well to recover and toe poke the ball clear. It fell for Lee Hildreth but last weekend's FA Cup hero could only hammer his shot well over the crossbar.
The long throw of former York man Duane Courtney was another attacking threat for the Lambs and one particular effort produced a good chance for Nick Chadwick. The ball bounced around the Town box and was hammered goalwards by the ex-Everton youngster but Disley threw himself at it to divert the ball away for a corner.
Tamworth were dishing out a lot of physical damage to the Mariners with Shaun Pearson, Disley, Aswad Thomas and Colbeck in the wars and the officials' tendency to let the play flow was frustrating for the away fans.
But with Hannah in their ranks the Mariners always had half a chance in them and the striker latched onto a John-Lewis header but couldn't steer his volley on target from a narrow angle.
Midfielder Scott Kerr then burst through the midfield and into a gap on the edge of the 18-yard box but he slipped at the vital moment and his shot was skewed well over the crossbar.
At the other end Richard Peniket and Richards both had long-range efforts that failed to trouble McKeown as the two teams went into the interval with the scores level.
Town started the second half shooting up the hill but at a higher tempo. Scott Nielson worked himself an opening but saw a shot blocked before John-Lewis' persistence won a corner.
And from that set piece the away side took the lead with a move straight off the training pitch. Kerr's low corner was smashed goalwards by Hannah and diverted in from close range by Disley.
The Mariners were on top now and John-Lewis was inches from connecting with another Kerr free kick - if the former Lincoln man had got the header in then it surely would have been a second for the visitors.
Hildreth was trying to push his team forward in search of an equaliser and he had one excellent run from deep but pushed the ball too far and the chance had gone.
Mark Wright was brought into the fray for the Lambs and he was an immediate threat on the left, forcing Sam Hatton into a mistake but thankfully dragging the resulting effort wide of McKeown's near post.
The Lambs' wide man then teased his way to the byline before crossing for Richards who dropped his header wide of the far post.
Hurst responded by freshening his ranks with the arrival of Rodman and Andy Cook for Nielson and John-Lewis respectively.
But Cook's first action was to almost divert another long Courtney throw into his own goal but McKeown reacted superbly to send the ball out for a corner.
And from that set piece the Mariners' stopper had to be at his best, firstly from a wayward Thomas touch and then from Hildreth closing in.
With the Lambs pushing for an equaliser the visitors were finding space on the break and from one of those chances they sealed the win with a second on 84 minutes.
Colbeck and Cook linked up well with the former bursting into the area and pulling the ball across for former Tamworth man Rodman to tap in from close range.
And that was it as far as the hosts' threat went. Cook was flagged offside as he looked to add a third before Colbeck and Rodman combined again, only for the latter to curl his effort just wide of the far post.
The final whistle was greeted with a huge roar from the 506 travelling fans and their favourites will make the short trip down the M180 on Tuesday night for the FA Cup Replay with Scunthorpe full of confidence.
Catch the highlights on Mariners Player tomorrow.