.GRIMSBY Town picked up a much-needed three points with a victory over play-off rivals Salisbury City which edged them closer to the Skrill Premier’s top five
The Mariners started well and they were ahead with just two minutes on the clock, when skipper Craig Disley opened the scoring.
Town controlled the game without seriously testing visiting keeper Will Puddy and as the clock ticked down, it looked like that single goal may be enough.
And any nerves among the home supporters at Blundell Park were eased once and for all when Alex Rodman’s goal eight minutes from time made it 2-0 and secured the points.
Three changes were made to the Town side that lost at Southport last time out, with new loan signing Connor Jennings thrown straight into the starting XI.
He replaced Ross Hannah up front, while Chris Doig came in for the injured Clayton McDonald at centre-back and Andi Thanoj replaced Scott Kerr in midfield.
James McKeown started in goal, with Paul Bignot, Shaun Pearson, Doig and Jamal Fyfield making up the back four.
Rodman, Disley, Thanoj and Scott Neilson were the midfielders, with Jennings partnered by Lenell John-Lewis in attack.
The Grimsby substitutes were Sam Hatton, Kerr, Hannah, Andy Cook and Dayle Southwell.
Salisbury made the long journey north looking for the win that would extend the gap between themselves and the Mariners to seven points.
Mikey Harris’ side occupied the final play-off place at kick-off, four points ahead of their hosts but having played four games more.
Town got off to the perfect start when they opened the scoring with just two minutes on the clock. John-Lewis threaded a ball through to DISLEY and he did the rest, stroking it past the advancing Will Puddy in the Salisbury goal.
At the other end, a sliced clearance by Pearson flew over his own bar for a corner but the ball from the flag was headed away from danger by Fyfield.
The hosts had started well and they won their first corner on 10 minutes when a low cross from Rodman was cut out at the near post. Thanoj’s low delivery did not lead to a goalscoring chance though.
Salisbury won a free kick in a promising position midway inside the Town half on the quarter-hour but Elliott Frear’s delivery was disappointing, sailing out for a goal kick at the far post.
Another Grimsby corner came on 20 minutes, again won by Rodman and this time, the ball went straight to Puddy.
Town were controlling the game and playing some good football at times without testing the Salisbury keeper.
The visitors were also looking to keep the ball on the ground and build up attacks and they could have had an opening when Rob Sinclair played a through-ball for Theo Lewis but his touch let him down.
Another Thanoj corner at the other end had a similar result to the previous one, with Puddy collecting the ball relatively unchallenged.
Chances were still at a premium as the half-hour passed, with most of the game being played in midfield areas.
A free kick for a foul on Rodman on halfway gave Town an opportunity to get the ball into the danger zone and it eventually led to Jennings trying a shot from 25 yards that flew over Puddy’s bar.
The Scunthorpe loanee was involved again soon afterwards, crashing a volley that was deflected away for a corner after he had played a one-two with Bignot on the right.
The corner quickly led to another, which was played short and saw Thanoj cut in and hit a cross-shot harmlessly out for a goal kick.
Town were looking to step up a gear and go in search of a second goal and an opportunity almost came with a Fyfield cross from the left but John-Lewis could not get on the end of it on the six-yard line.
A run by Rodman down the right brought another Grimsby corner as the game moved into one added minute at the end of the half. Pearson’s header went away from the gaol but the ball was retrieved from the left and Neilson hit a shot straight at Puddy.
That proved to be the last action of a fairly low-key half, in which the Mariners had got themselves ahead early on and then looked comfortable for the most part.
No changes were made before the restart and Town had the first chance of the second half, with Neilson volleying wide from 20 yards.
Lewis was blocked by Thanoj at the other end as Salisbury continued to struggle in front of goal, before Jennings lifted an effort over the bar for the hosts.
A foul by Neilson gave the away side a free kick inside the Town half seven minutes in but again, it posed no problems for the home defence.
Midfielder Clovis Kamjo tried a shot from distance two minutes later but McKeown was not called into action as the effort went a long way off-target.
A late challenge by Disley earned him the game’s first booking four minutes before the hour.
Chris McPhee replaced Lewis for Salisbury before the free kick was taken by Kevin Amankwaah but his delivery to the 18-yard line was headed away by John-Lewis.
McKeown had not had much to do so far but he had to be at his best to deny Rob Sinclair, who hit a 20-yard shot that looked destined for the top corner until the stopper got fingertips to it and deflected the ball onto his bar.
Defender Angus MacDonald was booked for a foul on John-Lewis on the Town left on 61 minutes but Neilson’s free kick was glanced away for a throw.
Jennings was replaced by Hannah on 64 minutes, just before Rodman had two attempts in quick succession as one was saved by Puddy and the other was deflected out for a corner.
Jamie White replaced Kamjo for the away side with 18 minutes to go, with the game still lacking a spark and Disley’s early goal still separating the two sides.
Glenn Wilson was booked for a foul on Rodman inside the Salisbury half and after the ball bounced around in the penalty area from the free kick, Pearson eventually hooked it over the bar.
Neilson made way for Kerr on 75 minutes and there was almost a chance for Town two minutes later when a shot from Thanoj was blocked and the ball broke for John-Lewis but Puddy was quick off his line to block the striker and gather at the second attempt.
A foul by Fyfield on Stuart Sinclair gave the away side a chance to get the ball into the Town box but the free kick was poor and McKeown caught the ball comfortably.
Rodman saw another shot blocked after a good cross from Hannah on the right as the Mariners looked for the second goal that would have made the points safe.
And that goal came with eight minutes to go, when RODMAN played a one-two with John-Lewis on the right before cutting in and firing home from the edge of the penalty area.
Puddy was booked after racing out of his box and fouling John-Lewis on 85 minutes but Thanoj’s low free kick was cleared.
John-Lewis had a shot blocked before Hatton replaced Thanoj in midfield for the last few minutes.
Salisbury pushed forward in search of what would now be just a consolation goal but McKeown remained untroubled and ultimately registered a clean sheet.
The victory took the Mariners back within striking distance of a return to the play-off zone.
They are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to Macclesfield Town.