Eastleigh 0 - 1 Grimsby TownGRIMSBY Town made it three league wins on the spin as they beat fellow play-off contenders Eastleigh to move within a point of second place in the Conference table.
The Mariners created plenty of chances at the Silverlake Stadium but ultimately, one goal proved to be enough to secure the victory.
Ollie Palmer was the man to hit the net seven minutes before the break and although the hosts rallied late in the game, Town held firm to make it 11 away games without defeat and extend their advantage over their seventh-placed hosts to nine points.
New signings Christian Jolley and Gregor Robertson were both handed their Grimsby debuts after penning deals until the end of the season yesterday.
They were two of three changes to the XI that started the victory against Nuneaton last time out, with Lenell John-Lewis returning in place of the injured Jon-Paul Pittman, as Daniel Parslow and Jack Mackreth dropped to the bench.
James McKeown started in goal, with Carl Magnay, Toto Nsiala, Shaun Pearson and Robertson forming the defence.
Nathan Arnold started on the right of midfield, with Craig Disley and Craig Clay in the middle and Jolley beginning on the left.
John-Lewis was joined by Palmer in attack, with Mackreth, Parslow, Paddy McLaughlin, Ross Hannah and Hamish Watson all named as substitutes.
Town won the first corner of the game on three minutes when a shot by John-Lewis was deflected behind but they could not make it count as Nsiala was penalised for a foul.
The Mariners continued their promising start when a ball from Jolley sent Palmer through but his touch let him down as home keeper Ross Flitney advanced out of his penalty area.
John-Lewis saw another shot blocked on the edge of the box soon afterwards, before he had the ball in the net with his next opportunity, although the offside flag was already up.
Arnold won a corner on 14 minutes and after the ball was cleared back to him from the flag, the winger crossed for Palmer but he could only find the side-netting.
An Eastleigh corner won by Jack Midson proved comfortable for McKeown in the Town goal, before a Town chance almost came when Robertson crossed but keeper Flitney got to the ball at the second attempt ahead of Disley.
Town had created the better chances and enjoyed a larger share of possession as the 20-minute mark passed, although claims for an Eastleigh penalty for an infringement by Magnay were waved away by referee David Rock.
Nsiala went down with an injury and the Mariners were briefly reduced to 10 men while he received treatment.
A free kick taken by Arnold was cleared before the Nsiala rejoined the action, then the defender was involved as he cleared a home free kick which had been given for a foul by Clay on Craig Stanley.
A ball played into the box for Disley on 34 minutes found the midfielder in an offside position.
A foul by Palmer on Jai Reason gave the hosts a free kick a minute later but the set piece opportunity caused no threat to the Town goal, as the ball was flicked on and McKeown gathered it comfortably.
The Mariners took the lead on 38 minutes, when a mistake by defender Jamie Turley gave the ball to PALMER and the striker curled a shot beyond keeper Flitney and into the far corner of his net.
A home free kick was headed away soon afterwards, before Robertson completed the clearance and combined with Jolley to launch a break.
Another free kick came for a foul by Nsiala on 41 minutes but again, it posed no problems for McKeown as Joe Partington headed over the bar.
Nsiala had to step in after Disley went down inside his own box as James Constable looked to create a chance but Jolley eventually won a goal kick.
A free kick was given for another foul by Nsiala on halfway as the game moved into two minutes of stoppage time but again, it came to nothing.
Town then had an opportunity on the break but they could not take advantage as John-Lewis’ touch let him down.
Another chance for the Mariners came before the interval when John-Lewis pulled the ball back for Clay but his effort was saved and as the half-time whistle blew, it remained 1-0.
No changes were made before the restart and Grimsby had a chance to double their lead in the early stages of the second half when Palmer crossed for John-Lewis but he sent his header wide.
A cross from Magnay led to a Town penalty appeal as John-Lewis went down but the referee instead gave a corner, which was headed off-target by Nsiala.
Palmer created an opportunity for John-Lewis as Town continued to create the better chances but the club’s leading goalscorer could not take advantage and the ball went through to Flitney.
Arnold launched another Town attack soon afterwards by delivering a cross-field pass to Jolley but his cross was just too far ahead of Disley at the near post.
Pearson was booked after pulling Constable back but the resulting free kick was caught by McKeown.
A throw-in level with the Eastleigh box led to Jolley having a chance to shoot from the edge of the box but he could not test the keeper as he fired well over the bar.
Disley was briefly forced off the field for treatment on an injury and while he was off, an Eastleigh free kick from inside the Town half caused some panic in the Town penalty area but was eventually cleared from danger.
Eastleigh made a double substitution four minutes after the hour, with Craig McAllister and Yemi Odubade coming on for Brian Howard and Stanley.
The Mariners went close to getting a second goal when a Pearson header from a corner was cleared off the line before a volley from Disley was well saved by Flitney, who pushed the ball away for a corner.
At the other end, Constable sent a shot off-target, before a cross was missed by Nsiala but McAllister and Midson were also unable to connect with the ball and convert the chance.
John-Lewis sent a shot across goal and out for a throw-in with 18 minutes left to play but the home side were now coming back into the game and Magnay was required to head the ball clear soon afterwards.
Palmer was the next to have a chance for the Mariners after good pressure by Arnold and John-Lewis saw the visitors win the ball. The Mansfield loanee ran through the middle but pushed his shot past the post.
Jolley was replaced by Parslow with 75 minutes on the clock, as Grimsby switched to a 4-5-1 formation with John-Lewis dropping into a wide-right position as Parslow slotted into a central midfield trio.
John-Lewis missed the target with a shot from the edge of the box two minutes later, before McAllister chipped the ball into the side-netting at the other end.
Odubade went down in the Town box with eight minutes left but the referee was not interested in his penalty claims.
The Mariners then launched another break and after Disley was brought down, the game continued as Clay brought the ball forward but could not pick out a team-mate.
An Eastleigh corner soon afterwards was headed wide as the hosts looked for a late equaliser.
Town knew a second goal would secure all three points and they almost had it when John-Lewis crossed and the ball was helped on by Palmer but Disley could not apply the finishing touch.
The home side then had a good chance to grab their equaliser but Nsiala was in the right place to make a crucial block.
Four added minutes were signalled by the fourth official as the Mariners continued to hold firm.
And although McKeown had enjoyed a quiet evening, he was forced into action in the third of the added minutes, getting down to stop an effort from McAllister.
A foul by Pearson on Constable gave Eastleigh one last chance to get the ball into the danger zone. Pearson and John-Lewis both half-cleared, before Magnay had to head clear after it came back into the box.
That proved to be the home side’s final opportunity as the Mariners made sure of another important three points.
They now return to Blundell Park for a clash with bottom side AFC Telford United on Saturday.