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Match Reports

Town 2 Barnet 1

23 November 2013

GRIMSBY Town kept up their good run of form as they registered an impressive win against Barnet at Blundell Park.

In an entertaining game, second half goals from Ross Hannah and substitute Liam Hearn gave the Mariners the points.

Centre-back Dave Stephens replied for the Londoners, who slipped to defeat fior the first time since a loss to Macclesfield Town in September.

Two changes were made to the Town side after the midweek cup victory at Scunthorpe, with both wingers replaced.

That meant Alex Rodman and Patrick McLaughlin were handed starts in place of Joe Colbeck and Scott Neilson.

James McKeown began in goal, with Sam Hatton, Shaun Pearson, Clayton McDonald and Aswad Thomas across the defence.

Rodman, Craig Disley, Scott Kerr and McLaughlin were the midfielders, with Hannah and Lenell John-Lewis named as the strikers.

Colbeck and Neilson were joined on the substitutes’ bench by Andy Cook, Hearn and Paul Bignot.

Barnet player-manager Edgar Davids named himself in the Bees’ starting XI, adding Blundell Park to the list of grounds he had graced during an excellent career which took in spells at Ajax, Juventus and Spurs.

Town had the first attack of the game and Barnet defender Andy Yiadom had to head a Rodman cross clear as McLaughlin looked to pounce at the far post.

After that, the visitors began to take control of the early stages, with Luisma Villa hitting a free kick from range that McKeown did well to hold.

A foul on winger Villa then led to Davids sending a free kick over that was headed away by McDonald, before the first corner of the game went to the away side but was claimed by the Town keeper.

The Mariners created a good chance when a free kick into the Barnet box was met by Pearson but John-Lewis could only fire over the top from 12 yards.

Town had a goal disallowed on the quarter-hour, when a nice dummy by John-Lewis sent Hannah away down the middle but his emphatic finish from 20 yards was chalked off by the linesman’s offside flag.

A good Barnet attacking move led to McKeown being called into action to stop a shot from the edge of the area four minutes later, before a Kerr free kick at the other end led to handball appeals from the home crowd as the visitors struggled to clear the ball.

Pearson was booked for a trip on striker George Sykes after a good through-ball from likely winger Kieron Cadogan, The free kick was taken by Cadogan but his curling shot was comfortable for McKkeown.

Defender Jack Saville was then yellow-carded for an infringement at the other end but he redeemed himself by heading Kerr’s free kick clear.

Hannah had an opening when a mistake in the Barnet defence presented him with the ball on 25 minutes but the striker snatched at his shot and dragged the ball wide.

John-Lewis wanted a penalty soon afterwards when he went down under a challenge by keeper Graham Stack but the referee was not interested in his claims and signalled for a goal kick.

Thomas had an opportunity to send a cross over from the left just before the half-hour but his low ball did not pick out a man in black and white.

Then, John-Lewis appeared to be caught in two minds as he ran through the middle with Hannah in support. The powerful front man looked unsure whether to pass or shoot and instead, sent the ball out for a goal kick.

Barnet had enjoyed the better of the opening stages but the Mariners were now seeing more of the ball and creating the better chances.

Another opportunity came when Hannah did well on the left to swing a cross over but Rodman could only volley it over the bar.

And a further chance came when McLaughlin found Rodman on the right but his cross was bravely headed away by Yiadom.

Both sides had approached the game looking to keep the ball on the ground and build up attacks, rather than being direct.

Hannah went down looking for a penalty two minutes before the break but again, the referee waved play on.

Two added minutes were played at the end of the half, with the Mariners on the attack in search of a breakthrough before the interval.

A driven cross from Hannah did not find a fellow attacker and with no further chances for either side, the game remained goalless at half-time.

No changes were made before the restart and Town were fastest out of the blocks, with Hatton having a shot blocked as the hosts spent the first few minutes camped in the Barnet half.

McDonald had to concede a corner six minutes in and Cadogan’s delivery to the far post was good but Disley got there first to head the ball clear.

Centre-back Stephens lashed a shot well off-target from long range as the away side began to come into the game again.

Davids then slid a great ball through for Villa but he was unable to keep it in play and the assistant referee’s flag went up.

At the other end, John-Lewis dug out a superb cross from the Town right and the ball dropped for McLaughlin at the far post but he steered his shot into the side netting.

A Hannah cross was blocked, before Rodman volleyed over the bar as the Mariners began to get on top just after the hour.

Another Rodman volley soon afterwards proved comfortable for Barnet keeper Stack but the home side were now piling on the pressure.

And that pressure told on 67 minutes, when Grimsby took the lead as the ball was played through by John-Lewis to HANNAH and he finished superbly, curling a right-footed shot over the keeper and into the net from 20 yards.

Jon Nurse replaced Sykes up front for Barnet after the goal, as the London club looked for something different in a bid to get back into the game.

Davids showed his class with a run through the middle and a through-ball which was almost perfect but McKeown was alert to the danger and raced off his line to claim it.

The visitors almost had an equaliser on 72 minutes when a cross from Yiadom on the right was met by Cadogan but his diving header dropped just wide of the mark.

Town boss Paul Hurst swapped his front two with 15 minutes to go, as Hearn and Cook replaced Hannah and John-Lewis.

Luke Gambin came on for Barnet soon afterwards, in place of Ahmed Abdulla.

A Grimsby corner came on the right and the ball was half-cleared at the near post before the hosts worked the ball back to Hearn, who could not create a shooting chance.

The Mariners won a free kick in a good, central position soon afterwards and from it, Hatton was inches away from doubling the advantage but saw his shot hit the side netting with keeper Stack beaten.

But they did not have to wait long to get that vital second goal, as good work by Cook led to him pulling the ball back for HEARN to hit an instinctive shot that went past Stack and into the far bottom corner of the net.

A foul on Gambin gave Barnet a chance to get back onto the game but a diving header from Thomas cleared the danger.

The away side were not to give up easily though and they halved the deficit with six minutes to go, when STEPHENS hit a thumping volley which beat McKeown from 25 yards.

A neat through-ball from Rodman almost led to a chance for Disley but he could not get the required direction on the shot under pressure.

Four added minutes were played at the end of the game, as Barnet attacked in search of the last-gasp equaliser which would have kept their unbeaten run going.

Hearn was injured in the dying seconds of the game, with Colbeck sent on in his place.

And that proved to be the last incident as the Mariners held firm to secure all three points and make it three wins in a row in league and cup.

Next up for Town is a trip to Coalville Town in the first round of the FA Trophy on Saturday.

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