Stevenage 2 - 0 Grimsby Town
GRIMSBY Town slipped to defeat against Stevenage at the Lamex Stadium.
The Mariners fell behind early when a Steven Schumacher free kick put the hosts ahead with just four minutes on the clock.
And they were unable to recover, with Jobi McAnuff doubling Stevenage’s lead just after the hour to seal the three points for the Hertfordshire side.
Town boss Marcus Bignot named an unchanged starting XI after the home win against Notts County last week.
That meant it was Dean Henderson in goal, behind a back three of Andrew Boyce, Shaun Pearson and Danny Collins.
Zak Mills and Danny Andrew again operated as wing-backs, with Chris Clements, Brandon Comley and Jamey Osborne in the centre of midfield as Omar Bogle and Scott Vernon formed the strike partnership.
The substitutes’ bench was also unchanged, with James McKeown, Ben Davies, Craig Disley, Dan Jones, Adi Yussuf, Gavin Gunning and Akwasi Asante waiting in reserve.
Stevenage came into the game having lost five of their last six matches and were looking to get back on track.
The Mariners, by contrast, had won three of their previous four matches and were aiming to complete a league double over their hosts after a convincing 5-2 victory in the reverse fixture at Blundell Park.
An early Grimsby penalty claim for a push on Bogle was waved away by referee Brett Huxtable, but it was the home side who struck the first blow on the scoreboard.
SCHUMACHER was given a chance to hit a free kick from around 25 yards on four minutes and he made no mistake, hammering a shot beyond Henderson and into the top corner.
A free kick from a similar distance at the other end gave the Mariners an opportunity to hit back five minutes later but Bogle could not hit the target with his shot.
Ben Kennedy flicked a header off-target from a free kick after a foul by Collins, before another free kick was dealt with by Collins after it had been played into the Town penalty area.
At the other end, the Mariners won the first corner of the game but Andrew’s delivery was cleared after it had been aimed towards Boyce. Stevenage broke but the move did not lead to a chance in front of goal as the ball was eventually put out for a throw-in.
A foul on Clements gave Town a free kick on the edge of the home box on 21 minutes but again, Bogle did not force Stevenage keeper Jamie Jones into action as his shot curled around the wall but flew off-target.
Another opening came for the away side four minutes later when Vernon had the ball inside the penalty area but he could not find a team-mate and the hosts cleared.
A Stevenage corner was claimed by Henderson, before a free kick from Clements was cleared by Tom Pett, who got to it ahead of Osborne.
A mistake by Mills from a throw-in almost let the hosts in on the half-hour but after the ball was taken forward by Kennedy, Collins stepped in to stop the danger.
Striker Matt Godden hit a shot wide of Henderson’s goal soon afterwards, before Mills won a corner at the other end. It eventually led to Boyce getting the ball inside the penalty area but after controlling it on his chest, he was unable to get a shot away.
Connor Ogilvie was the next to threaten for Stevenage, although Henderson was not troubled as he sent an effort flying past the far post on 35 minutes.
A cross from Jobi McAnuff was headed clear by Collins, before Schumacher had a penalty claim turned down after a challenge from Clements as the hosts continued to do most of the attacking.
A free kick from Schumacher was deflected away for a Stevenage corner three minutes before the break and after it was played short, Pett’s cross looked dangerous but Henderson got to the ball first.
Town were yet to make a real impression in front of goal as half-time approached, with Osborne sending a low shot harmlessly wide just before two added minutes were signalled.
A home corner caused no problems as an infringement was spotted and as Henderson pumped the resulting free kick out of play, the referee’s whistle brought the first half to a close.
No changes were made before the restart and an early cross was headed clear by Boyce as Stevenage were the first to attack.
Henderson then had to push the ball out for a corner after a cross-shot from left-back Ogilvie looked to be heading for the top corner at his near post.
A shot from former Scunthorpe striker Godden was blocked by Collins, before Vernon was denied by keeper Jones in a one-on-one in what was Town’s best opportunity so far.
At the other end, a corner was played short but Pett could only send a shot into the travelling Grimsby supporters behind Henderson’s goal.
Town had a spell of possession shortly afterwards, with Mills crossing for Bogle before Vernon was unable to get a shot in.
The first substitution came on 57 minutes, with Yussuf replacing Clements for the Mariners in a bid to add some extra attacking firepower.
A corner came a minute later but Osborne’s delivery came to nothing as Stevenage broke, with Collins clearing a ball into the box from Kennedy.
Bogle was booked for a foul, before Stevenage doubled their lead just after the hour. Henderson was caught out from a Town throw-in and the ball broke for McANUFF, who lofted it into the net despite the best efforts of Boyce to get back and stop it.
And the hosts thought they had scored a third goal on 67 minutes when Charlie Lee had the ball in the net, although the celebrations were cut short when he was penalised for a foul.
Davies replaced Mills on the Town right and a good run from the former Portsmouth man took him into the box but after he went down, the appeals for a penalty from the away fans were turned down.
Josh McQuaid came on for McAnuff for Stevenage with 17 minutes to go, then Asante was sent on for his Town debut in place of Boyce as the Mariners switched to a 4-4-2 formation with Bogle on the right as Davies moved to right-back.
A cross-shot from Godden evaded the run of Kennedy and went out for a throw-in as the home side looked for a third goal which would make certain of the result with six minutes still to play.
Godden was involved again as the hosts launched a quick counter-attack and after spotting Henderson off his line, the striker tried a lob but the keeper got back to ensure the score remained at 2-0.
Seconds later, Town had a free kick in a good position but Davies’ shot was marginally too high and clipped the top of the net after going over the bar.
Former Sheffield United midfielder Michael Tonge replaced Pett deep into added time and after four-and-a-half added minutes, the referee’s whistle ended what had been a disappointing afternoon for the Mariners and their 1,358 travelling fans.
Town are next in action on Saturday, when Luton Town are the visitors to Blundell Park