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Grimsby Town 1-0 AFC Telford Utd

24 February 2015

GRIMSBY Town strengthened their grip on a play-off position with a victory against bottom club AFC Telford United at Blundell Park.

The Mariners dominated the game but in the end, one goal proved to be enough to secure all three points.

Nathan Arnold was the man on target two minutes into the second half after visiting keeper Freddie Hall had kept the home attack at bay for the first period.

After taking the lead, Town pushed for a second goal and created several chances but were unable to add to their lead.

But with Telford causing very few problems at the other end, the hosts were able to see the game out and make it six points out of six after Saturday’s away win at Barnet.

Town boss Paul Hurst named an unchanged side after the victory in North London.

That meant goalscorer Jon-Paul Pittman was forced to again settle for a place on the bench, while Ollie Palmer was deemed not ready to make a return from injury.

James McKeown started in goal, with Carl Magnay, Toto Nsiala, Shaun Pearson and Gregor Robertson forming the defence.

Jack Mackreth, Craig Disley, Craig Clay and Arnold were the midfielders, with Lenell John-Lewis and Christian Jolley again selected as the strike partnership.

There was also an unchanged substitutes list for the Mariners, with Pittman joined by Scott Brown, Ross Hannah, Daniel Parslow and Hamish Watson.

Telford travelled from the Midlands as the Vanarama Conference’s bottom side and would be looking to return home with a point or more.

Manager Steve Kittrick would look to three-pronged strikeforce Ross Dyer, Tony Gray and Sam Smith to cause the Town defence problems.

Town’s first forward move saw John-Lewis play a ball through for Jolley down the left but he could not keep it in play and a goal kick was the result.

The near-post delivery was put behind for another corner, which was eventually dealt with by Magnay after the Mariners initially failed to clear their lines. At the other end, Pearson sliced the ball away for the first corner of the game on five minutes after a deep cross from midfielder Danny Ventre.

The windy conditions were playing a part in the early stages as both teams struggled to keep possession in a scrappy opening to the game.

Hall then hit it straight at John-Lewis but watch relieved as the ball rebounded out for a goal kick. Town could have taken the lead in bizarre circumstances on 10 minutes when casual play by Ventre saw him dither on the ball before playing a short back-pass to keeper Freddie Hall with more power than was necessary.

Jolley then got on the end of a long ball three minutes later and tried to hold it up for John-Lewis but Ventre got to the ball first and knocked it back to Hall, who cleared.

Town were starting to get on top and they won their first corner on the quarter-hour, although Nsiala could not direct his header towards goal from Arnold’s right-wing delivery.

Telford’s Tony Gray was then booked for the challenge on the Town midfielder. A cross from Mackreth came from the right after referee Richard Wigglesworth had played a good advantage following a foul on Clay but Hall caught the ball from the centre.

Nsiala headed wide from the resulting corner.  Arnold pulled the ball back for John-Lewis after a through-ball by Robertson and after his shot was blocked, the keeper also kept out Jolley’s rebound. Neither goalkeeper had been tested over the first 20 minutes but that changed when Telford’s Hall made a superb double save.

The referee then spotted an infringement as the ball came over from the flag. A foul on John-Lewis gave Town a free kick on the right on 27 minutes but the striker’s header from Arnold’s kick was deflected out for a corner.

Another free kick came two minutes later in a position further back and after Pearson won the header from Magnay’s ball, John-Lewis was flagged offside as he shot wide.

The keeper then punched the ball clear from the flag-kick.  The winger controlled it well to go through on goal but he could not beat Hall, who got a touch on the shot to send it out for a corner.  The Mariners should have taken the lead a minute after the half-hour when a brilliant pass from Disley put Arnold through down the middle.

John-Lewis had an opportunity to create a scoring chance after he took the ball on the right before cutting in but instead of looking to pick out a team-mate, he opted to shoot from a narrow angle and scooped it over the bar.

A break in play came when Telford’s Smith was caught in a challenge but no action was taken by the referee and the striker was passed fit to continue after receiving treatment.

Hall punched it out for another corner on the opposite flank but this time, it was headed away. The hosts were doing most of the attacking and Clay combined with Robertson to win another corner five minutes before the break.

Another cross by Mackreth on the right on 44 minutes was claimed by Hall, who had looked composed throughout the half.

At the other end, a rare opportunity for Telford to get the ball into the box came with a free kick on the right but the offside flag went up as it was taken.

Two added minutes were signalled at the end of the half and with no further chances created by either side, the game remained goalless at the interval.

Town had dominated in terms of possession and territory but had yet to find a way of getting past Hall in the visitors’ goal.

Robertson played a ball to ARNOLD and he turned and flicked a shot past Hall to open the scoring. No changes were made before the restart and after making all of the running in the first half, the Mariners were ahead within two minutes of the start of the second.

A foul on Dyer on 51 minutes gave the visitors a free kick in a central position, 35 yards from goal. Gray’s shot hit the Town wall and his follow-up effort was easy for McKeown.

Arnold was involved for the Mariners again four minutes later, taking the ball forward before giving it to Jolley but after he flicked it forward for John-Lewis, he was caught offside.

Telford won a corner off Magnay soon afterwards and Town struggled to clear Ventre’s kick until they were given a free kick for a foul on Clay.

Arnold fired wide at the other end as Grimsby attacked again, before a double substitution saw Telford introduce Sean Clancy in place of Mike Grogan and Glen Matthews in place of Smith.

John-Lewis was inches away from doubling the home side’s advantage when he worked some space on the edge of the box on 63 minutes but curled a left-footed shot that bounced off the bar.

Seconds later, John-Lewis latched onto a through-ball down the middle but could only hit keeper Hall with his shot from inside the penalty area.

A worrying moment for the Mariners came when McKeown went down injured after chasing the ball across his area but after treatment, the keeper was fit to play on.

Telford’s third and final substitution saw Godfrey Poku come on for Jack Rea.

A let-off for the visitors then came when Hall was adjudged to have taken a goal kick but as the Telford coaching staff argued he had not done, John-Lewis took possession but could not find the net with his shot.

A Jolley effort soon afterwards was held by Hall as the Mariners continued to search for the second goal which would all but secure the three points.

Town made a double change with 19 minutes to go, with Clay replaced by Brown and Pittman coming on in place of Jolley.

A poor challenge on Magnay earned Ventre a booking on 79 minutes but Arnold’s free kick to the far post was headed clear.

The winger looked to slip it through for John-Lewis but a defender got there first to clear for a throw-in. Robertson started Town’s next attack when he won the ball from Clancy and touched it to Arnold, who set off at pace on a run down the middle.

Seconds later, there was another chance for John-Lewis but he could only lift the ball over the bar at the near post.

Telford were still struggling to cause any problems for McKeown but there was a feeling the Mariners would need a second goal to settle any nerves among the home players and supporters.

McKeown misjudged his clearance from a Robertson back-pass and sent the ball straight to Gray but after cutting in, the striker fired tamely wide. That was highlighted when Telford were almost gifted an equaliser with five minutes to go.

Four added minutes were signalled to be played at the end of the half and the Mariners saw the extra period out comfortably to record another vital win.

They are next in action on Saturday, when Braintree Town are the visitors to Blundell Park.

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