Grimsby Town 0-1 Cheltenham Town
GRIMSBY Town lost a third consecutive home game as Cheltenham Town took all three points away from Blundell Park.
Last season’s National League champions needed just one goal to secure their win, with striker Billy Waters finishing a well-worked free kick routine.
Town did most of the attacking but struggled to break down their opponents or test keeper Russell Griffiths on enough occasions.
And that meant they could not add to their recent successes on the road with a win on home turf, as Cheltenham joined Hartlepool in the league and Leicester City’s Under-23s in the Checkatrade Trophy in winning in Cleethorpes this month.
Club captain Craig Disley came back into the Town side in place of Brandon Comley as the only change to the starting XI after last week’s victory at Cambridge United.
James McKeown started in goal, with Zak Mills, Danny Collins, Josh Gowling and Danny Andrew forming the defence.
Disley and Luke Summerfield anchored the midfield, with Kayden Jackson, James Berrett and Dominic Vose lining up behind striker Omar Bogle.
Comley tok a place on the substitutes’ bench alongside Shaun Pearson, Rhys Browne, Tom Bolarinwa, Scott Vernon, Shaun Tuton and Dean Henderson.
Cheltenham travelled north looking to improve on a start to the season which had seen them occupy a position in the lower reaches of the League Two table.
Striker Waters would look to get the goals for Gary Johnson’s side, while former Mariners Danny Parslow and Harry Pell were both making returns to Blundell Park with the Robins.
Bogle had the first chance of the game for Town on two minutes, getting the ball and beating defender Aaron Downes, only to be denied by a block from keeper Griffiths.
More good skill from Bogle two minutes later led to another opening and when his effort was blocked, Vose took the ball on but shot wide of the far post from a narrow angle.
But despite a promising opening to the game, the Mariners fell behind on nine minutes to a brilliantly executed free kick routine. In a move straight from the training ground, midfielder Kyle Storer played a low ball from 25 yards to the edge of the box, where it was touched on for WATERS to beat McKeown with a low shot to the keeper’s bottom-left.
Another free kick went to the visitors on 12 minutes but this time, the delivery into the box from much further out was punched clear by McKeown.
A more promising sign for the hosts came soon afterwards through Berrett, who got the ball on the edge of the Cheltenham box and brought it under control before shooting just wide.
A foul on Vose gave Town a free kick on 17 minutes but after the ball was played to Summerfield from it, his 25-yard drive was blocked.
Jackson won a corner on the right three minutes later but it came to nothing, although the hosts kept possession with a throw-in and eventually won another corner, which was headed away from danger.
At the other end, a Cheltenham corner from the left was headed out for a throw-in by Collins, before a Grimsby attack ended with the ball being cleared by right-back Jack Bartham.
Cheltenham threatened again on 27 minutes when a chipped cross from Rob Dickie eventually fell for Bartham at the far post. He could not squeeze it into the net though, as McKeown came out to make a good block.
Attacker James Dayton then hit the side-netting from a narrow angle on the left after a quick break from the visitors where Pell had taken the ball forward.
A long throw by Mills at the other end saw the ball come back for Summerfield but he could only shoot over the bar from 20 yards.
Bogle turned and shot from a similar distance 10 minutes before the break but the ball was comfortably collected by Griffiths in the Cheltenham goal.
Town had caused few problems for the Cheltenham keeper over the course of the half and that continued when a first-time effort from Berrett flew over the bar.
The hosts hoped that would change when Bogle did well to work his way through into the penalty area on 41 minutes but after the striker pulled the ball back, it was cleared from danger.
A foul on Bogle midway inside the visitors’ half then brought a free kick but again, the ball was cleared after Vose’s delivery had been headed on by Gowling.
One added minute was signalled as Pell hit a wild shot well over the bar, before a Vose free kick led to Gowling looping a header into the arms of keeper Griffiths.
That proved to be the last chance of the first half, with Cheltenham retaining their one-goal advantage at half-time.
The visitors looked comfortable at the halfway point, with Town doing plenty of attacking but rarely seriously threatening a goal.
Bolarinwa replaced Berrett before the restart, taking up a right-wing berth in a 4-4-2 formation, with Jackson now alongside Bogle up front.
Town started the second half looking to put pressure on the Cheltenham defence but were unable to test Griffiths despite several attacks in the early part of the half.
A foul on Pell gave the away side a free kick in a dangerous position on 57 minutes and from it, Storer’s shot was deflected away for a corner. From the flag, Town broke through Bolarinwa, whose long ball found Jackson on the right. His cross was put behind for a corner, which was caught by Griffiths.
Pell was fouled again to give the visitors another free kick on the hour, this time on the right. Storer’s ball was sent wide for a goal kick.
At the other end, Jackson won a corner on the right but Vose’s ball was cleared.
Pell was booked after a foul on Disley on the halfway line, with referee Darren Deadman pointing to several infringements by the midfielder.
Andrew followed him into the referee’s notebook soon afterwards for a foul, after a shot had been blocked following Gowling’s cross.
Amari Morgan-Smith replaced Pell for Cheltenham with 18 minutes to go, and with the Mariners still pushing forward in search of an equaliser.
Two long throws from Mills looked to cause problems for the away defence, before a shot on the turn from Bogle was blocked by Griffiths from close range.
A double substitution then saw Comley and Tuton replace Summerfield and Vose, with Jackson moving to the left as Tuton slotted in alongside Bogle in attack.
Tuton’s first involvement saw him win a corner on the right but Andrew’s delivery was headed clear of danger.
Bogle found an opening for a shot on 77 minutes as Town continued to attack but this time, Grifffiths got down to his right to make the stop.
Midfielder Jack Munns was shown a yellow card for timewasting after a foul on Waters had given Cheltenham a free kick inside the Town half, which came to nothing.
Town were struggling to find a way through as their visitors looked to close out the game, to the frustration of all apart from the 113 travelling supporters in the 4,809 crowd.
A Munns corner from the left was punched clear by McKeown, before Bogle was booked after an altercation over a throw-in.
Four added minutes were played and a final chance came with a free kick midway between the halfway line and the penalty area, which was taken by Andrew and led to McKeown – who had come forward – mis-hitting an overhead kick.
Try as they might, the Mariners could not find an equaliser on what had been a frustrating afternoon for the hosts and their supporters, leaving Cheltenham to celebrate their victory.
Town are next in action when they make the long trip to face Yeovil Town on Saturday.