Grimsby Town 3 -1 Woking
GRIMSBY Town returned to winning ways with a comfortable home success against Woking.
After the disappointment of defeat at Halifax at the weekend, the Mariners were in front within four minutes as Jon-Paul Pittman marked his return to the starting line-up with the opening goal.
Giuseppe Sole equalised for the visitors but they were level for just three minutes before Padraig Amond restored Grimsby’s advantage.
And the Irishman made the points safe with his second goal of the night just before half-time.
Pittman’s incliusion was one of four changes made to the Town side that lost in West Yorkshire on Saturday, with Shaun Pearson, Evan Horwood and Nathan Arnold also coming into the starting XI.
They replaced Toto Nsiala, Gregor Robertson, Ryan Jennings and Omar Bogle, all of whom dropped to the bench.
James McKeown started in goal, with Richard Tait, Pearson, Josh Gowling and Horwood making up the defence.
Arnold began on the right of midfield, with Craig Clay, Jon Nolan and Andy Monkhouse completing the central quartet.
Pittman was partnered by Amond in attack, while Nsiala, Robertson, Jennings and Bogle were joined on the bench by Conor Henderson.
Woking travelled north looking to keep their outside chance of making the play-offs alive, although manager Garry Hill made seven changes to his team, possibly with one eye on Saturday’s FA Trophy quarter-final between the two clubs.
The first attack of note came in the third minute, when Amond almost got onto a through-ball from Monkhouse but was crowded out by defenders on the edge of the penalty area.
The next time the Mariners went forward, they grabbed the opening goal. A high, looping cross from Arnold on the right was headed back across goal by Amond at the far post and PITTMAN was in the right place to slam the ball into the net from close range.
At the other end, a slip by Horwood gave right-back Jake Caprice the space to send a cross over, although the delivery resulted in McKeown making a comfortable catch.
After Town’s quick start to the game, their visitors began to grow into the game and by the time the 10-minute mark passed, they were starting to see more of the ball in attacking positions.
Gowling had to clear a shot from Bruno Andrade, before the winger won a corner on the left, which was headed clear by Pittman.
A flick-on by Monkhouse then sent Arnold away through the middle but he couldn’t find Amond with a low pass, which was cleared for a throw-in.
Another flicked header by Monkhouse almost led to a chance for Pittman on 13 minutes but visiting keeper Nick Hamann was alert to the danger and raced off his line to beat the striker to the ball.
A cross from Caprice on the right brought another Woking corner two minutes later but the ball from the flag was headed clear by Pearson.
But the away side were on the attack again soon afterwards when a foul by Monkhouse gave then a free kick on the right, level with the 18-yard line. They were unable to profit from it though, as a shot sailed over the bar.
Another two corners in quick succession were dealt with by the Grimsby defence, before Andrade took advantage of a loose pass in midfield but ran the ball out for a goal kick.
Woking were creating the better openings and they had another attack on 23 minutes, when striker Matt Robinson drilled a shot from 20 yards that McKeown got down to stop.
Town attacks had been fewer but they had an opportunity to get the ball into the danger zone when Horwood won a left-wing corner. Keeper Hamann got to Nolan’s delivery first though, and punched it clear.
A foul by Tait gave the visitors a free kick on the left on 27 minutes but McKeown got a strong fist to Sole’s ball and got it away for a corner, which the keeper collected at the far post.
At the other end, a low cross from Arnold was cut out for a corner. From the flag, the ball was played to Amond, who had peeled away towards the penalty spot but could not get a good enough contact on it to trouble the away defence, who got it away for another corner.
This time, the delivery was towards the six-yard line and after Hamann failed to collect it, two shots came in and both were blocked on the line, with handball shouts against Poku and Joey Jones both ignored by the referee as play continued.
And the Mariners were punished for failing to double their lead as Woking hit back on 34 minutes. A free kick from Andrade on the right was met by SOLE, who planted a superb header beyond McKeown to level the scores.
But after getting back on level terms, the visitors were behind again just three minutes later. Horwood’s cross from the left was perfect for AMOND, who headed past Hamann to make it 2-1.
And it was 3-1 on 42 minutes, as the Mariners finally gave themselves a cushion. A loose ball was touched on by Pittman and AMOND latched onto it to thump a shot past the keeper from 20 yards.
Woking had a chance to cut the deficit two minutes later when an Andrade free kick was not dealt with but after the ball broke for Sole, his shot was blocked.
Jones looked to be in trouble after he appeared to pull Amond down close to the edge of the Woking box as the game moved into two minutes of added time but the referee disagreed and allowed play to continue without so much as a free kick being given.
Two Woking shots in quick succession were blocked as the visitors looked to grab a lifeline before the break but after the second went out for a corner, the Mariners managed to clear their lines from the flag-kick.
That proved to be the last chance for either side before half-time, with the hosts keeping their two-goal advantage at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and the first action of note in the second half came four minutes in, when Horwood had to slide in to stop Andrade getting to the ball on the right.
The first attempt at goal of the half came soon afterwards, when a cross from Andrade was met by Robinson but he could only head tamely over the bar.
Town almost had a chance on 52 minutes when Amond looked to have given Monkhouse an opening but the winger’s touch was too heavy and Hamann came off his line to gather the ball.
The best chance of the half so far came on 56 minutes but Amond was denied a hat-trick by Hamann, who blocked his shot from inside the box before Monkhouse was also unable to force the ball into the net.
A shot from Monkhouse from the edge of the penalty area after a good possession move led to a corner as Hamann pushed the ball wide. From the flag, Pearson’s powerful header looked to be on its way into the net but the keeper dived and made a brilliant save.
Another Town corner was cleared after Gowling had won the initial header, before Sole tried an ambitious effort from 45 yards which did not worry McKeown, who got back and claimed a simple catch.
Woking made the first substitution of the game on 67 minutes, with Chris Arthur replacing Andrade.
A foul by Nolan on Poku earned the midfielder a warning from the referee, although he did not produce a yellow card.
Town’s first change came with 17 minutes to go, as Bogle replaced Pittman.
Two minutes later, they had the ball in the net for a fourth time but the goal was ruled out for offside after Bogle’s shot came back off the post and Monkhouse tapped it in.
Joe Quigley was sent on in place of Sole up front for the visitors, before Bogle sent a volley just over the bar after Amond had knocked the ball down for him on the edge of the box.
Tait did well to beat Robinson to a cross from the right on 78 minutes and ensure the only damage was a corner, which was caught by McKeown.
Woking’s final change saw Cameron Norman come on for Jones with 10 minutes left to play, before Jennings replaced Amond for the hosts five minutes later in a move that saw Arnold move to a central position alongside Bogle.
Jennings was booked for a foul on Arthur as the referee reached into his pocket for the first time in the game with three minutes to go.
Three added minutes were signalled by the fourth official and Town were able to negotiate them without any problems to confirm a much-needed win.
They are next in action on Saturday against the same opponents, when Woking visit Blundell Park in the last eight of the FA Trophy.