Our guest reporter Ryan Petterson with his take on Saturday's game.
Grimsby Town fell to a late Portsmouth goal as the visitors won 1-0 this afternoon.
After a frustrating first half, Town looked more comfortable in the second period and were seemingly on course for an important point in front of a 6,560 strong Blundell Park crowd until Portsmouth substitute Kal Naismith beat James McKeown with a free-kick in the 85th minute.
Town boss Marcus Bignot opted for a 4-5-1 formation with McKeown in goal, and a back line of Zak Mills, captain Josh Gowling, Danny Collins, and Danny Andrew.
Ashley Chambers returned to the right wing, with Brandon Comley and Luke Summerfield occupying the central midfield roles and Kayden Jackson on the left.
James Berrett played just behind lone-striker Omar Bogle.
A minute's silence was observed before the game in honour of late Town legend Paul Futcher, and the air disaster which involved many Chapecoense players and staff. Futcher also received a round of applause around the ground in the fourth minute as his picture was shown on the scoreboard.
After a cagey first few minutes, the first real chance of the game came just before the 10th minute as Portsmouth’s Danny Rose found space in the middle of the park before he fired the ball just wide of the right post, but McKeown seemed to have it covered.
The visitors continued to push, with Rose and Carl Baker finding space and playing intricate passes and Town struggling to combat it, but the Mariners withstood the pressure.
Jackson looked to be the outlet for Town, finding pockets of space on the left wing and using his quick feet to dribble past his marker but he failed to really test goalkeeper David Forde.
Paul Cook’s side had the better chances in the first half but they couldn’t succeed in the final third, with Baker hitting several shots wide of the mark.
But the visitors looked to have a good opportunity of breaking the deadlock in the 41st minute as Enda Stevens strode forward on the counter-attack with only a couple of Town players back, before Comley tracked back and made a great challenge to regain possession and ensure it was goalless at the break.
Town kicked off the second half but Bogle’s misplaced pass meant Portsmouth gained possession, and striker Michael Smith broke free before shooting from just outside the area but McKeown was there to clutch it.
Both captains were involved in an awkward challenge just five minutes into the second half as Gowling was awarded the first booking of the game for a foul on Michael Doyle.
Town’s best effort of the game came three minutes later as Chambers curled one towards the top left corner but a back-pedaling Forde managed to get his fingertips to it.
Bignot made the first sub of the game in the 57th minute as he brought on Tom Bolarinwa for Chambers.
And the winger almost made an instant impression on the game but Forde desperately parried his long-ranged, weak-footed effort out.
Bignot adjusted to a 4-4-2 in the 70th minute bringing on Scott Vernon for Comley, and eyeing up all three points.
Portsmouth made two subs four minutes later as Naismith came on for Gary Roberts, and Conor Chaplin replaced Kyle Bennett.
Bolarinwa again looked to create something for Town with 10 minutes to go as he initiated a pacy counter-attack before Stevens brought him down on the edge of the Portsmouth box. The defender was given a yellow card for the foul.
And referee Andy Haines showed the yellow again just three minutes later as Berrett fouled Christian Burgess just inside Town’s half.
The first and final goal of the game came in the 85th minute as Jackson conceded a foul on the edge of the area and Naismith fired the subsequent free-kick into the top-right corner, giving McKeown no chance of getting to it.
The visitors’ bench and staff flocked the pitch as they knew it was the winner.
But Town would have equalised straight from kick-off if it wasn’t for Forde parrying Vernon’s powerful low-driven attempt.
Portsmouth made another change in the 87th minute with Noel Hunt replacing Smith.
Haines gave the final booking of the game to Gareth Evans in the 90th minute, before calling time on play five minutes later.
Danny Collins picked up the Man of the Match award.
Speaking after the game, Bignot said he wanted a better first half performance to reward the Town fans, of whom almost 5,500 turned up on the day, for their support.
“We had a great crowd here and first half, I was very disappointed,” he said.
But, despite conceding the only goal of the game, Bignot was pleased with his side’s improvement in the second half.
He said: “I think the goal probably summed up the first half because second half we tried to be positive.”
Town, currently 12th and winless in three league games, will now turn their attention to the trip to third-placed Doncaster Rovers next weekend, with more than 4k Mariners fans also travelling to the Keepmoat Stadium.