Grimsby Town 3-1 Welling Utd
GRIMSBY Town picked up another three points with a victory over Welling United at Blundell Park.
In wet conditions, the Mariners started well but went behind against the run of play when midfielder Sam Corne opened the scoring for the visitors.
But they were back level within two minutes through Nathan Arnold, before a brilliant Conor Townsend free kick completed the turnaround in favour of the home side, still with just 11 minutes on the clock.
From then on, it looked like there would only be one winner as Town threatened to stretch their lead before half-time.
But Welling came back into the contest after the break and it was only after substitute Jack Mackreth scored a third goal in added time that the Mariners players and supporters could relax and celebrate a third straight win in all competitions.
Alex Jones was handed his first start for Town since joining on loan from Birmingham City and Toto Nsiala was brought back into the XI in place of Shaun Pearson as Mariners boss Paul Hurst made two changes to the team that won at Barrow in midweek.
James McKeown started in goal, with Richard Tait, Nsiala, Josh Gowling and Townsend forming the defence.
Arnold, Craig Disley, Craig Clay and Andy Monkhouse were the midfielders, with Padraig Amond partnering Jones in attack.
Marcus Marshall was the other man to drop out of the starting line-up and he was joined on the bench by Gregor Robertson, Pearson, Mackreth and Scott Brown.
Welling made the long journey north looking to build on their midweek draw with Forest Green Rovers and claim a win that could see them move further into mid-table.
They would look to strikers Michael Bakare and Ricky Wellard for the goals that would contribute to a positive result.
Town started well, looking to keep possession and build up attacks and their first opportunity in front of goal came on four minutes, when Arnold’s cross was headed wide by Monkhouse.
But it was the visitors who opened the scoring with their first real attack, on six minutes. A cross from the left by Ben Jefford was met by CORNE, whose downward header beat McKeown and bounced into the net.
The Mariners were behind for less than two minutes though, as they hit back in style. A shot by Amond ricocheted off a Welling defender and broke for ARNOLD, who slammed a volley past visiting keeper Tom King.
A foul on Amond on 11 minutes eventually brought a Grimsby free kick on the left after referee Karl Evans initially looked to play an advantage. And it led to a second Mariners goal, as TOWNSEND stepped up and fired a left-footed shot that beat King and hit the net at his far post.
After going behind early on, Town were now in charge and were doing all of the attacking as the quarter-hour passed.
A cross from Amond was pushed clear by King, then two home corners in quick succession were both met by Nsiala but on each occasion, King was not called into action.
Welling then began to come back into the game and they won a corner when a cross by George Porter was put behind by Nsiala. Clay was first to the ball from the flag though, clearing it for a throw-in.
Another Town free kick came on 22 minutes, again for a foul on Amond but this time close to the centre circle. Townsend spotted King off his line and tool the shot on but his effort drifted over the bar.
The hosts were on the attack again soon afterwards, as Clay made his way into the penalty area but saw a shot blocked.
At the other end, a foul by Gowling gave Welling a free kick in a dangerous position near the right corner of the Town box. Wellard’s shot was cleared by a diving header from Disley.
Good play by Townsend eventually saw him win a corner on the left on 26 minutes, which led to the Hull City loanee’s near-post delivery being headed wide by Monkhouse.
An Arnold cross was slid out for another corner by defender Kevin Lokko and this time, Townsend’s ball from the right led to a scramble in the six-yard box as the visitors struggled to clear their lines. The ball eventually broke for Arnold and his shot was blocked, before Gowling headed over the bar.
Wellard flashed a shot wide of McKeown’s goal from 30 yards on the half-hour, before Arnold hit a rising effort wide of the near post at the other end as Town kept looking for a third goal.
The Mariners were playing some excellent football, attacking down both flanks at pace and playing the wet, windy conditions well.
A foul by Nsiala led to a Welling free kick just inside the Town half but it came to nothing, as Porter was penalised for fouling McKeown.
Bakare worked an opening inside the penalty area for the visitors on 38 minutes but again, McKeown was not troubled as the striker blasted the ball over the bar.
An attempted shot by Jones hit Lokko and went behind for Grimsby corner a minute later but Amond’s shot was blocked after Townsend’s low delivery and the away side cleared.
Another attempt by the lively Jones came on 41 minutes but this time, his 20-yard shot was caught by King.
A free kick from Arnold on the left brought another chance for Town to stretch their lead but after it was headed down by Nsiala, Jones went for power but could only lift the ball high over the bar.
Two added minutes were signalled by the fourth official and in the first of them, a pass from Clay found Jones but the striker looked off-balance when he tried to shoot and could only send the ball out for a goal kick.
No further chances came for either side before the referee’s whistle brought an entertaining half to an end.
Harry Osbourne replaced Barney Williams at right-back for Welling before the restart and the first chance of the second half went to the Mariners. Disley’s ball found Amond but he was blocked and although King stopped it from going out for a corner, it almost broke for Amond again but the danger was eventually dealt with.
Bakare shot over the bar under pressure from Gowling in Welling’s first real attack of the half six minutes in.
A cross from Tait on the right almost found its way through to Monkhouse before the ball was hammered clear.
A mistake by Corne in the Welling midfield gave Monkhouse the ball on 57 minutes and he started an attack by giving it to Arnold on the right. The winger advanced and sent over a cross but it was caught by keeper King.
A free kick to the visitors came on 64 minutes but the opportunity was wasted, as Corne’s ball from the left was too high for everybody and sailed out for a goal kick at the far post.
Joey Taylor replaced Harry Lee in the Welling midfield soon afterwards, before Bakare was lucky to escape a yellow card for a poor challenge on Gowling.
A long-range shot from Tait had to be parried away by King as Town kept looking for a third goal which would almost certainly put the result beyond doubt.
Mackreth replaced Arnold on the Grimsby right with 18 minutes to go and soon afterwards, the home side almost had a third goal when a great cross from Townsend was met by Amond but his header was cleared at the far post.
Welling’s third and final substitution saw Sahr Kabba replace Bakare up front, with the visitors still looking to get something out of the game and definitely not out of it at 2-1 behind.
Town went close to getting a third goal on 77 minutes, when Mackreth set off on a run into the box and hit a cross-shot but Amond couldn’t connect with it and the ball went wide of the far post.
Welling were starting to see more of the ball in attacking areas as the clock ticked past 80 minutes and they appeared to be growing in confidence, as the Mariners looked to hold onto their slender lead.
A driving run by Townsend saw him make plenty of ground through the middle before pushing the ball through, although it proved just too far ahead of Mackreth for him to get on the end of.
Marshall replaced Jones for Town with eight minutes remaining, then Monkhouse and Townsend combined well for the left-back to win a corner. That led to another when Gowling’s header was tipped over the bar by King and this time, Marshall was denied when his effort was blocked.
The away side were still searching for an equaliser but a free kick with a minute left was cleared after Taylor’s low drelivery.
Mackreth had a shot saved by King soon afterwards and his rebound was deflected out for a corner as three minutes of added time were signalled.
The points were finally secured in the last of the added minutes, when Monkhouse chipped the ball through for the onrushing Marshall. He nodded it on for Amond and the striker unselfishly squared it across goal, where MACKRETH took advantage of a slip in defence to force the ball into the net.
That proved to be the last real action of the game and the hosts were able to celebrate another victory which kept them in the play-off positions.
Next up for Town is a trip to Eastleigh on Saturday