Aldershot 1 - 1 TownSCOTT Neilson’s fourth goal of the season was not enough to stop 10-man Grimsby Town slipping to their first defeat of the campaign at Aldershot Town.
Brett Williams struck twice for the home side to secure the points despite a good display from the Mariners, who lost Lenell John-Lewis for two bookable offences in the first half.
Town had created the better chances before the sending off and got to half-time with the game goalless but they found themselves with a tough task after going 2-0 down to goals either side of the hour mark.
Neilson pulled one back for Grimsby with a 25-yard strike and although they kept pushing for an equaliser, the Mariners were unable to find it and saw their unbeaten start to the season come to an end.
Town boss Paul Hurst named the same starting XI for the third game in a row, with the team having won both of their previous games convincingly.
That meant goalkeeper James McKeown was protected by a four-man defence of Toto Nsiala, Shaun Pearson, Andrew Boyce and Carl Magnay.
Neilson was given a right-wing berth in a four-man midfield that also included Craig Clay, Scott Brown and Patrick McLaughlin, while John-Lewis lined up alongside Jon-Paul Pittman in attack.
Alan Connell’s midweek departure meant there was an enforced change on the bench, so Ross Hannah came into the squad after recovering from injury.
He was joined there by Paul Bignot, Jack Mackreth, Craig Disley and Caine Winfarrah.
Aldershot were looking to get back to winning ways after drawing their two previous games, away to Torquay and at home to Forest Green.
Andy Scott’s side included former Town player Sam Hatton, who was used as a central midfielder.
Town had the first chance of the game when a free kick was flicked on by Pittman to John-Lewis. He then squared to McLaughlin and after the Irishman’s shot was saved by home keeper Phil Smith, Clay could not convert the rebound.
A driven free kick at the other end could have caused a problem for the Mariners but no home attacker could get a touch to it and McKeown gathered.
The game stopped briefly after Aldershot captain Glenn Wilson picked up an injury but he was passed fit to play on.
Town almost had a chance when Neilson found Clay and he played a ball for John-Lewis but the striker’s touch let him down.
John-Lewis forced a good save out of Smith after collecting a long ball, before the resulting corner was also punched clear by the goalkeeper.
Aldershot then created an opportunity on the break with a move involving Jordan Roberts and Jaydon Gibbs but the danger was dealt with by Pearson.
John-Lewis was shown the first yellow card of the game just before the half-hour for a collection of fouls. A free kick from Hatton then fell for Mark Molesley but his shot missed the target.
At the other end, a ball from Brown was headed back across goal by Pittman at the far post but John-Lewis could only send it just wide under pressure.
A free kick on the Grimsby right came on 32 minutes and from it, the Mariners went close to taking the lead when McLaughlin’s delivery was headed against the post by John-Lewis, before McLaughlin fired a shot over the bar.
Town were on top now and a through-ball from Brown sent Pittman through but after rounding the keeper, he could not find the net from an acute angle as his shot was blocked on the line.
The turning point then came when Grimsby were reduced to 10 men, when a foul by John Lewis near the halfway line was adjudged to be worthy of a second yellow card by referee Robert Whitton.
Midfielder Kieran Forbes saw a shot deflected through to McKeown six minutes before the break as Aldershot looked to make the most of their one-man advantage.
A spell of home pressure was well defended by Town, shortly before the game moved into three minutes of stoppage time.
And with no chances created by either side during the additional time, the game remained goalless at half-time.
Aldershot made a double substitution before the restart, with Anthony Tonkin coming on for Hatton and Joseph N’Guessan replacing Molesley.
An early free kick to the home side was dealt with by Boyce, before Pearson was yellow-carded for kicking the ball away after a free kick had been given.
Neilson was pulled back on the halfway line to give Town a free kick on 52 minutes and after McKeown’s ball into the penalty area, a shot by Pearson landed on the roof of the net.
Brown hit a long-range shot over the bar as the away side continued to ask questions but when the first goal came, it went the way of the hosts.
Dan Fitchett ran down the right before picking out strike-partner WILLIAMS, who fired past McKeown to make it 1-0 with 56 minutes on the clock and put the Mariners behind in a game for the first time this season.
Williams threatened again soon afterwards when his shot had to be tipped over the bar by McKeown.
Neilson fired wide after getting into the box and working the space for a shot just before the hour.
Williams was involved again for the hosts soon afterwards as he hit another shot from the edge of the box but this time, the ball went straight to McKeown.
But he was not to be kept out for long, as he scored his second of the game to stretch the Aldershot lead on 64 minutes. A ball over the top from Damon Lathrope was collected by WILLIAMS near the edge of the box and he prodded a shot past the Town keeper to leave the visitors with a mountain to climb.
Forbes was booked for a foul on Pearson, before the free kick from Brown was taken by keeper Smith in the home goal.
Town were still looking to get back into the game and a good run by Neilson led to him passing to Pittman but the offside flag went up against the striker, who shot wide in any case.
Bignot replaced Nsiala in Grimsby’s first substitution of the game and the Mariners almost had another opportunity when Neilson tried to find McLaughlin, only for a defender to get there first.
Fitchett was replaced by Tom Derry for the hosts with 14 minutes left, with Hannah and Mackreth sent on in place of Pittman and McLaughlin at the same time for Town.
And almost straight away, the deficit was halved, when a poor clearance from Tonkin fell for NEILSON and he hit a half-volley from 25 yards that beat Smith and hit the net.
Town were given a huge boost by the goal and they had another chance through Clay on 81 minutes but the midfielder’s shot went over the bar.
The Mariners were pushing extra men forward in a bid to rescue something from the game as the clock ticked down.
But Magnay had to make a block to stop the hosts putting the result beyond doubt after Williams shot from the edge of the box.
Mackreth then set off on a run down the Grimsby right before cutting in and shooting wide as the game moved towards the start f four minutes of stoppage time.
McKeown was booked for dissent before an Aldershot corner, with the home side now looking to close the game out and collect the three points.
And with no further chances for either side, the referee’s final whistle confirmed a first league defeat of the season for the Mariners, who are next in action when they face Welling at Blundell Park on Saturday.