A NATHAN Arnold double ensured Grimsby Town claimed a deserved three points as they beat Gateshead at Blundell Park.
The Mariners dominated the game against their largely disappointing visitors, although they were forced to come from behind when Craig Baxter’s deep cross slipped through the grasp of keeper James McKeown to give Gateshead the lead.
Town did not trail for long though, as Arnold marked his return to the side with a solo goal to level the scores.
And he went on to better that with his second of the game after half-time to put the hosts ahead and, as it turned out, secure maximum points.
Arnold replaced Jack Mackreth in what was the only change to the Town side that began the 1-1 draw with Forest Green Rovers at the weekend.
Otherwise, it was as you were, with McKeown behind a defence of Danny East, Shaun Pearson, Josh Gowling and Gregor Robertson.
Arnold started on the right side of midfield, with Craig Disley and Craig Clay in the middle and Andy Monkhouse on the left.
Jon-Paul Pittman and Ben Tomlinson were again selected as the strikers, meaning Padraig Amond and Omar Bogle had to be content with places alongside Mackreth, Marcus Marshall and Toto Nsiala on the bench.
Gateshead made the journey from the north-east looking to continue an impressive away record which had already seen them pick up five wins on the road so far this season.
The away side included former Town players Paddy McLaughlin and Simon Ramsden on their starting XI.
Both sides struggled to keep the ball in an error-strewn opening until a free kick came on the Gateshead right, which was calmly dealt with by Robertson.
Town’s first attack of note saw a nice move down the left, before the ball was played across and East eventually hit a shot from 25 yards that stung the palms of visiting keeper Sam Russell, who gathered at the second attempt.
Arnold’s ball from the flag led to a free header for Pearson but he could only guide it past the post for a goal kick. The Mariners were looking to keep the ball on the ground and build up attacks and they won a corner through East on the right on eight minutes.
A deep cross from BAXTER looked to be comfortable for McKeown but the ball slipped through his hands and dropped into the net. The first goal of the game came soon afterwards and saw the away side take the lead in bizarre circumstances.
A free kick was flicked on by Pearson but Pittman’s header came back off the post and was cleared for a corner. Town almost delivered an instant reply when they went straight down the other end and were inches away from levelling the scores.
An attempt by Monkhouse deflected off Baxter for a corner on the Grimsby left on 16 minutes but Arnold’s delivery was headed away by Gateshead captain Ben Clark.
Town kept attacking and an Arnold free kick from the left was dealt with by the visitors after Pearson had won the initial header.
And their equalising goal was not long in coming, as a run by ARNOLD down the right took him into the penalty area and after cutting inside, the winger hit a shot that Russell could only help into the net for 1-1.
A free kick for a foul on East on 22 minutes led to Pearson heading Arnold’s ball back across goal but nobody in black and white was there to turn it into the net and Ryan Bowman cleared.
Monkhouse combined with Tomlinson for the winger to shoot from 20 yards but his effort was blocked for a corner, which was headed clear by Clark.
East was the next to try his luck for Town, setting off on a pacy run down the right before cutting in and firing a drive from the edge of the box that went just over Russell’s bar.
A cross from Pittman on the right just after the half-hour was met by the head of Monkhouse but he could not steer it into the net, instead directing the ball beyond the far post.
The Mariners were dominating the game, with Gateshead offering little as an attacking force and ensuring McKeown was rarely called into action in the Town goal.
His low cross was then put out for a corner, although Town could not profit from the flag. Another home attack saw Arnold hit a ball into the box that was too strong for Tomlinson but instead, fell for Pitman.
A half-chance for the visitors came when Pearson was slow to deal with a ball through the middle and Bowman nipped in to win the header but they could only help it through to McKeown.
Tomlinson was flagged offside as he looked to get onto the end of a ball through the middle as the game moved into one minute of added time at the end of the half.
And with neither side managing to create another opportunity before the referee’s half-time whistle, it remained 1-1 at the break.
No changes were made before the restart and Gateshead had the brighter opening to the second half, with Disley having to head a cross from Jimmy Phillips away before Ramsden was caught offside as he collected a pass inside the Town box.
At the other end, Tomlinson had a chance on 48 minutes but could only smash a cross-shot wide of the far post.
The winger picked the ball up in a central position and after beating two defenders, he hit a left-footed shot from 25 yards that arrowed past Russell and into the net. Grimsby’s next attack brought them a second goal and again, it was ARNOLD who was on the scoresheet.
Disley hooked a shot well over the bar after the ball bounced up in front of him following Monkhouse’s header, as the Mariners attacked in search of a third goal.
Phillips sent a shot just wide of McKeown’s target after both Gowling and Pearson thought they had been fouled in the build-up.
At the other end, an Arnold cross eluded everybody as Town continued to dominate, before Tomlinson hit a wild effort that found the upper reaches of the Pontoon Stand.
James Marwood replaced McLaughlin for Gateshead two minutes short of the hour in the game’s first substitution.
A foul on Disley then gave Grimsby a free kick in a promising position on the right but after Arnold’s ball was flicked towards the far post, Pittman could not quite get to it and Russell dived on it.
The keeper claimed a comfortable catch second time around, from Phillips’ right-wing delivery. A Gateshead corner soon afterwards led to another when McKeown touched the ball away from immediate danger.
Town won a corner of their own on 64 minutes but Arnold’s ball was headed clear.
A dangerous-looking cross from Bowman was headed clear before a Gateshead attacker could get on the end of it and that signalled the start of a short spell of away pressure, which ended with Phillips curling a shot just wide.
Town could have stretched their lead when Arnold went through on 68 minutes and after he was blocked, the ball fell for Tomlinson but the striker’s effort was saved by Russell.
Grimsby boss Paul Hurst swapped his strikers with 20 minutes to go, sending Amond and Bogle on in place of Tomlinson and Pittman.
From it, the ball was brought clear by Ramsden but East used his pace to get across and stop the break, putting the ball out for a throw-in. More good play by Arnold saw him beat his man down the right and send over a low cross that was sliced out for a corner.
Bogle and Amond then combined on the edge of the area before almost linking up again when Amond’s low ball across the six-yard line was cut out for a corner before it could reach Bogle.
Rob Ramshaw replaced Phillips for the away side on 78 minutes and Gus Mafuta followed him onto the pitch six minutes later, with River Allen making way.
Gateshead went on the attack as the clock ticked down, looking to snatch something from the game.
But Town held firm in defence and after four minutes of added time were played, they were able to celebrate an important win that edged them closer to the play-off positions.
The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to Braintree.