Grimsby Town 1-0 Kidderminster Harriers
PADRAIG Amond’s 18th goal of the season earned Grimsby Town a win against struggling Kidderminster Harriers at Blundell Park.
In a wind-affected game, both sides found genuine chances hard to come by in a goalless first half which Town dominated in terms of possession and territory.
After the interval, the hosts stepped up the pressure on the away goal and they were rewarded when Amond struck with a brilliant header.
Town looked for a second goal but in the end, one proved enough to ensure they made it five wins out of five in all competitions this month and moved back up to third in the National League.
Town manager Paul Hurst stuck with the same starting XI as he picked for the win at Eastleigh last time out, meaning new loan signings James Alabi and Conor Hendersen both had to settle for places on the bench.
James McKeown began in goal, with Richard Tait, Toto Nsiala, Josh Gowling and Conor Townsend forming the defence.
Nathan Arnold, Craig Disley, Craig Clay and Andy Monkhouse were the midfielders, with Amond and Alex Jones again forming the strike partnership.
Omar Bogle returned to the substitutes’ bench after injury, where he, Alabi and Henderson were joined by Shaun Pearson and Jon-Paul Pittman as Danny East and Gregor Robertson dropped out of the matchday squad.
Kidderminster began the afternoon just a point and a place off the bottom of the league table and in need of a win to help close the gap on the teams above them.
Strikers Matthew Barnes-Homer and Jordan Murphy were the men trusted with causing danger for the Mariners’ defence.
Town’s first task of the afternoon seemed to be to get to grips with a strong wind blowing around the ground, with early attacks breaking down because of the conditions.
The first chance of the game went to the visitors after a cross from the right fell for winger Dino Fazlic at the far post but he could only head the ball straight to McKeown.
Apart from that one moment, neither side had been able to create anything of note in a quiet opening quarter-hour.
Grimsby’s first opening came when Amond did well on the right to head the ball back for Arnold and after his cross was headed on by Jones, Disley slid in but could not generate enough power to beat visiting keeper Dean Snedker.
Monkhouse saw a 25-yard shot blocked at one end and a cross from Jared Hodgkiss was cleared at the other as both sides struggled to make an impact in front of goal with 20 minutes on the clock.
Town won a corner on the right on 27 minutes and Townsend’s ball was put behind for another one by Kelvin Langmead. This time, the delivery from Townsend was punched clear by Snedker.
Chances were still at a premium as the half-hour mark approached but the best opening so far came when Townsend advanced down the left and got to the byline before crossing for Arnold. His header from near the penalty spot was pushed wide for a corner by Snedker and Townsend’s flag-kick proved too strong for anybody in black and white to get on the end of.
A foul on Monkhouse on the Grimsby left brought a free kick on 33 minutes but Arnold’s kick was cleared. Town retained possession but the Kidderminster defence held firm again after the ball was worked back into the box.
A corner came at the other end soon afterwards but it didn’t cause any problems for the Mariners backline.
A foul on Clay inside the Kidderminster half gave Town another chance to put pressure on the away defence but Townsend’s ball was cleared.
A long throw from Townsend soon afterwards was cleared back to him and a cross broke for Arnold to fire a snap-shot harmlessly wide.
Town were dominating the game in terms of possession and territory but had not created enough to seriously worry Snedker in the Kidderminster goal.
The visitors were not seeing as much of the ball but were looking to attack at pace when in possession, although McKeown was also having a quiet afternoon between the Grimsby sticks as half-time loomed.
One added minute was played at the end of the half and after no further chances were created by either side, the game remained goalless at the break.
No changes were made before the restart and the visitors stated the second half on the front foot, winning an early corner and then seeing a shot from Fazlic go wide.
Jones then won a corner for the Mariners at the other end and Townsend’s outswinger was headed behind by Langmead. This time, Jones was penalised for a foul as Townsend sent the ball over from the flag.
Amond and Arnold linked up well on 54 minutes for the Irishman to shoot but his 20-yard effort was blocked. The ball fell for Townsend and he advanced into the box but overran it and Snedker gathered.
A solo run by Arnold through the middle brought some excitement for the home fans but Langmead got back to challenge. Town kept possession and Arnold’s ball for Tait led to a corner. From the flag, the ball found its way to Amond and he controlled it on his chest before volleying wide.
Another Town attack on the hour saw Monkhouse play the ball through for Townsend. His chip was blocked but the ball went to Jones, whose shot was saved by Snedker.
The home pressure was building and a cross from Arnold was headed on by Tait but Amond could not get to the loose ball.
Town boss Hurst made his first substitution on 64 minutes, sending Bogle on in place of Jones in attack, before Jordan Jones replaced Murphy up front for the visitors soon afterwards.
The Mariners finally made their breakthrough a minute later, when a cross from Townsend with the outside of his left foot was met by AMOND, whose superb header beat Snedker and nestled in the net.
Town immediately went in search of a second goal and they almost had it when Townsend drilled a low shot from 20 yards after a cross from Arnold had been headed back. Snedker got down to make the save.
Another change in the Kidderminster attack saw Gurjit Singh replace Barnes-Homer with 20 minutes to go.
Bogle blazed a shot over the bar after good work by Monkhouse in midfield as the Mariners kept looking to double their lead.
A rare Kidderminster attack then saw substitute Singh let fly with a low shot from the edge of the box but McKeown got down to stop it.
Centre-back Kyle Howkins was replaced by Lathaniel Rowe-Turner in Kidderminster manager Dave Hockaday’s final change, before Alabi was sent on for his Town debut in place of Amond.
Town were given a scare on 78 minutes when the away side came within inches of an equalising goal. Midfielder Ben Whitfield held off the challenge of Nsiala and after the referee ruled there had not been a foul, he took the ball on and beat McKeown from 20 yards, only to see it bounce back off the post and into the grateful arms of the keeper.
Pittman replaced Arnold on the Grimsby right with three minutes to go, before a foul on Alabi on the halfway line gave Town an opportunity to get the ball forward and keep it away from their own goal.
Another free kick came for a foul on Pittman as the game moved into three minutes of added time.
Alabi thought he had a chance when he found himself through on goal in the second of the extra minutes but the whistle had already gone for a foul.
Pittman earned another free kick after the ball had been cleared by Tait following a Kidderminster cross from the right, with the away side still looking to snatch a point.
But with no further chances for either side, the Mariners aw out the remainder of the game to complete a clean sweep of victories in November.
Town are next in action on Monday, December 7, when Shrewsbury Town visit Blundell Park in the second round of the FA Cup