Aldershot Town 3-4 Grimsby Town
GRIMSBY Town fought back from two goals down to earn a vitally important win against Aldershot Town.
The Mariners went in at half-time with a 2-0 deficit to make up after Charlie Walker and Giorgio Rasulo appeared to put the home side in control.
But Padraig Amond reduced the arrears seven minutes after the break and substitute Omar Bogle levelled the scores before Nathan Arnold gave Town the lead for the first time.
Aldershot hit back again through Rhys Browne to make it 3-3 but Town were not to be denied and after Jon Nolan put them ahead again, this time they were not to let it slip.
Two changes were made to the XI that stated Friday’s defeat at Cheltenham as Town looked to take full advantage of one of their games in hand.
Both alterations were in defence, as Richard Tait replaced Shaun Pearson and Gregor Robertson came in at left-back in place of the injured Evan Horwood.
James McKeown started in goal, with Tait on the right of a four-man defence that also included Toto Nsiala, Josh Gowling and Robertson.
The midfield remained unchanged and comprised Arnold, Craig Disley, Nolan and Andy Monkhouse, while Amond and Pat Hoban were again selected as the strikers.
The Grimsby substitutes were Pearson, Bogle, Craig Clay, Jon-Paul Pittman and Jordan Stewart.
Town started brightly, winning an early corner after Hoban saw a shot blocked and another flag-kick, which eventually led to Hoban hitting the side-netting.
At the other end, an effort from Ross Lafayette led to a home corner and the hosts had a good chance soon afterwards but McKeown made a good save from close range.
An Aldershot penalty shout was waved away when Lafayette went down, before a free kick on seven minutes was pumped into the Town box but dealt with by Hoban, who was then fouled.
A foul by Disley gave the home side another free kick inside the Grimsby half and from it, the ball from Rhys Browne came off Monkhouse and went out of play for a corner. It proved to be the start of a string of corners as Aldershot applied some pressure to the Town defence. That pressure finally ended when Sean McGinty struck a shot over the bar.
A break by Arnold took him into the Shots penalty area on 18 minutes but after the winger found Amond, his shot was comfortable for home keeper Phil Smith.
Monkhouse conceded a free kick for a foul on Omar Beckles on the halfway line on 24 minutes but the home side were unable to create anything of note from it.
The game entered a scrappy phase as the half-hour approached, with neither goalkeeper being called into much action.
A Tait cross came to Monkhouse after it was touched on by Amond but after the winger played the ball to Disley, his shot was blocked.
At the other end, the home side won a free kick 10 yards outside the Town box for a foul by Disley on 32 minutes. From it, they took the lead when WALKER’S shot was deflected past McKeown.
Aldershot now had the initiative and a foul by Gowling on Lafayette saw the defender shown a yellow card. This time, Jack Saville’s header from the resulting free kick was caught by McKeown.
Town’s response to going behind saw a cross from Arnold drop for Hoban but he sent the ball off-target under pressure.
Tait was the next to try his luck with a shot from distance but could only watch the ball go wide of Smith’s target for a goal kick.
Rasulo had a chance for the hosts four minutes before the break, although he too was unable to hit the target and the Mariners’ deficit remained at one goal.
But he, and Aldershot, were not to be denied for much longer, as a ball in behind the Town defence found RASULO and he beat the offside trap and fired past McKeown at his near post for 2-0.
Two added minutes were signalled and Town tried to get a goal back before half-time but Hoban had a shot blocked after a pass from Arnold.
That meant the scoreline stayed the same at the interval, with the home side holding a two-goal advantage and the Mariners facing a tough task to get back into the game in the second half.
Two changes were made by Town boss Paul Hurst before the restart, with Bogle and Stewart coming on for Hoban and Monkhouse.
A foul on Arnold gave Grimsby a free kick midway inside the Aldershot half but Nolan’s ball from it found its way through to keeper Smith.
Stewart then won a corner as Town looked for a fast start to the half and this time, Nolan found Bogle but his header was well saved by Smith, who pushed the ball out for a corner. The ball from the flag was cleared.
At the other end, Town had a let-off when Walker beat the offside trap but could not control the ball.
And Walker almost had another opportunity when the ball was played behind Nsiala but again, he could not take advantage.
Town were back in the game eight minutes into the half when good work by Bogle saw him get down the left side and after reaching the byline, he stood the ball up for strike partner AMOND to head past Smith for 2-1.
An Aldershot free kick came soon afterwards but Browne’s delivery was headed wide for a goal kick.
Town were now looking for a second goal and after Nolan did well to win the ball back, his pass forward was just too far ahead of Amond.
But that did not matter, as the Mariners were level on 56 minutes. This time, it was the substitute BOGLE who scored after meeting a cross from Arnold.
Having done so much to haul themselves back into the contest, Town almost found themselves behind again when Gowling conceded a corner and from it, McKeown lost the ball but watched gratefully as it was sent into the side-netting.
Disley escaped a booking for a foul just before the hour but Aldershot could not create a goalscoring opportunity from the resulting free kick.
A shot from Jim Stevenson soon afterwards was seen late by McKeown but the keeper did well to save it and then chase the ball down to prevent a corner.
Another late challenge by Disley did see him go into the referee’s notebook, before Browne hit a shot that was inches away from restoring Aldershot’s lead as it whistled past the post.
Tom Richards replaced Saville for the hosts on 65 minutes, then a foul on Bogle near the home penalty area gave Town a free kick. Nolan’s ball was missed by Smith and ARNOLD was there to slam it into the net and give the visitors the advantage for the first time in the game.
But that advantage lasted less than two minutes, as the ball fell for BROWNE inside the Town box and he was given the time and space to shoot across McKeown and make it 3-3.
Amond went down with an injury off the ball as Bogle was fouled inside the Aldershot half. Nolan’s ball was not initially dealt with by the home defence but Town could not profit and it was eventually cleared.
The hosts then won a corner off Robertson but the ball into the box was headed away from danger by Gowling.
A Tait cross at the other end was headed clear, before a left-footed shot from Nolan was sliced wide.
Town were looking for a winner and a cross from Stewart was cut out, before a poor challenge on Tait saw Beckles yellow-carded. The ball was cleared from the resulting free kick.
Aldershot won a corner with seven minutes to go as they too looked for a winning goal but the ball from the flag was headed away by Gowling.
A free kick at the other end was half-cleared before Arnold had a shot blocked. Town kept possession until Richards finally dealt with the danger.
The Mariners snatched the lead back with three minutes to go, when Bogle laid the ball off for NOLAN and his cross from deep went over Smith and found its way into the net at the far post to make it 4-3.
Five added minutes were signalled and Clay came on for Amond for Town, with Alfie Pavey being introduced for the hosts.
Two Grimsby free kicks in attacking areas provided opportunities to wind the clock down and with no further chances for either side, the Mariners were able to hold on for a huge three points that kept them third in the National League table.
Town are next in action on Saturday, when fellow play-off contenders Eastleigh are the visitors to Blundell Park