Grimsby Town 4-1 Barrow
GRIMSBY Town recorded their first victory of the season with a convincing display against Barrow at Blundell Park.
The newly-promoted Bluebirds were no match for a confident Town side who were determined to make up for the disappointment of dropping two points in the season opener at Kidderminster.
After a scrappy start, the Mariners took charge of the game and broke the deadlock through Andy Monkhouse on 16 minutes.
Omar Bogle then doubled the lead with his first goal for the club, before Monkhouse made the points safe by grabbing his second of the night just before the hour.
And Aristote Nsiala added extra gloss to the scoreline with a fourth goal, ensuring the vast majority of the bumper, 5,000-plus crowd went home happy, despite Elliot Newby’s consolation goal for the visitors in added time.
Town boss Paul Hurst sprung a surprise with his team selection, as Shaun Pearson began on the bench.
He was replaced by Richard Tait in what was the only change to the XI that started against Kidderminster on Saturday.
James McKeown started in goal, with Tait coming in at right-back as Nsiala moved to partner Josh Gowling at centre-back and Danny East continued on the left.
Nathan Arnold took up a right-wing position, with Craig Disley and Craig Clay in the middle and Monkhouse on the left.
Bogle and Padraig Amond were again selected as the strike partnership, while Pearson was joined on the bench by Gregor Robertson, Jack Mackreth, Harry Clifton and Josh Venney.
Barrow included former Grimsby striker Andy Cook in their starting line-up, which also featured ex-Town defender Simon Grand.
After a scrappy opening, Town had the first attack of note when Bogle turned and fed Arnold on the right but his low cross was swept out for a corner, which was cleared at the near post by midfielder Dave Mellor.
Amond and Bogle then combined on five minutes for the former Solihull striker to advance into the penalty area and have a shot, which was blocked for a second corner.
Amond was involved again on 11 minutes when a long ball forward from McKeown was missed by a Barrow defender. The striker took possession on the right side of the box but missed the target with his shot.
A foul on Cook gave Barrow their first opportunity to threaten the Town goal with a free kick in a central position and around 25 yards out. The chance was wasted though, as Dave Symington chipped the ball harmlessly over the bar.
A deep cross from Andy Haworth on the Barrow left found Cook just before the quarter-hour but he could not get any direction on his header and it went wide.
The Mariners then took the lead with their next attack, a minute later. Tait took the ball down the right and after Arnold stood a cross up to the far post, MONKHOUSE was there to loop a header back across goal and into the net.
Town were looking good and immediately went in search of a second goal, with Bogle winning another corner on the left, although Arnold’s delivery could not pick out a man in black and white.
A foul by Monkhouse on the halfway line earned him the first yellow card of the game on 19 minutes, before the hosts doubled their lead two minutes later.
A mistake in the Barrow defence was pounced upon by BOGLE, who took the ball on and calmly slotted it past visiting keeper Joel Dixon to score his first goal for Town.
Tait tried his luck with a speculative long-range shot after beating two defenders but he could only watch it go well over Dixon’s bar.
A poor clearing header by East gave Barrow an opportunity at the other end but Symington could not take advantage, sending an effort over the top from 20 yards.
A first-time drive from Bogle was deflected out for a corner after a nice lay-off from Arnold on 27 minutes but the ball from the flag was headed clear.
Grimsby were well on top at the half-hour mark, playing some excellent football and looking threatening in attack, while their opponents were finding it difficult to create anything of note.
Clay escaped a booking for a foul on Mellor in the centre circle, before Mellor was yellow-carded himself for a trip on East on the Town left.
Bogle looked to have another promising position on 35 minutes but overran the ball instead of trying to pick out strike-partner Amond.
Another home corner followed soon afterwards and Arnold’s flat delivery from the right found Gowling but he could not beat Dixon with his diving header.
Barrow had created little throughout the half but they managed to put together a confidence-boosting spell of possession around the 38-minute mark, leading to a corner which was headed clear by Disley.
A low cross by Mellor was sliced out for a corner by Gowling but Cook could only head at McKeown after meeting the delivery from the flag.
A foul on Clay by Mo Fofana gave the Mariners a free kick inside the visitors’ half three minutes before the break but Arnold’s ball was cleared.
Two additional minutes were played at the end of the half and in the first of them, Amond looked to latch onto a ball from Clay but he could not lift it over Dixon, who rushed off his line to make the block.
No further chances were created by either side before the referee’s half-time whistle, meaning the Mariners remained two goals to the good at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and the away side had the first chance of the second half, with defender Danny Livesey glancing a header wide from a free kick.
Cook thought he had an opportunity after collecting a pass from right-back Niall Cowperchwaite but the offside flag had gone up against the striker.
At the other end, Arnold won a corner four minutes in but Nsiala could not connect with a header from it.
A foul by Amond gave Barrow another chance to mount an attack but Neil Ashton’s free kick was headed away by Monkhouse. Town then broke, with Arnold crossing from the right, but Dixon managed to hold the ball.
Another free kick came when Clay fouled Mellor on 57 minutes but after Symington’s ball was headed towards goal by Grand, it was stopped by McKeown.
The visitors were made to pay when Town stretched their lead a minute later, after Arnold’s shot looked about to creep into the far corner but Dixon managed to get a hand to it. The keeper could do nothing about the rebound though, as MONKHOUSE lashed it in from 12 yards for his second of the game.
And it got even better for the home side on 66 minutes, when Barrow failed to clear a corner and after a scramble inside the six-yard box, NSIALA eventually managed to bundle the ball over the line and into the net.
Mackreth replaced Amond with 20 minutes to go, as Arnold moved to partner Bogle up front.
Nsiala gave away a free kick to the right of the Town box a minute later but Barrow could not make it count, as the ball went out for a goal kick at the far post.
A good chance for the away side came for substitute Jason Walker, on for Mellor, on 73 minutes. He beat McKeown to a through-ball but was unable to convert it as the Mariners managed to clear their lines.
Walker had an even better opportunity a minute later when he was presented with the ball by Nsiala and ran through but crashed his shot against the post with McKeown beaten.
Walker was booked for a foul on Gowling on 83 minutes, before Venney came on in place of Clay for Town and Newby replaced Symington for Barrow.
Three added minutes were played at the end of the game before the Town players and fans were able to celebrate what they hope will be the first of many home wins this season.
But they were not able to acclaim a clean sheet, as NEWBY crashed a shot into the net to get the visitors on the scoreboard after Town failed to clear their lines at the back.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when Bromley are the visitors to Blundell Park.