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Match Reports

Match report: Alfreton Town 0-1 Grimsby Town

McAtee on-target as Mariners earn pre-season friendly win

3 August 2021

Liam Emmerson

Grimsby Town passed their latest pre-season test as they earned a narrow victory over Alfreton Town at the Impact Arena.

An early, well-worked John McAtee goal ultimately proved enough to settle a keenly-contested friendly as the Mariners stepped up their preparations for the forthcoming league campaign.

Both sides had chances to add to the score but Town defended well to keep their National League North opponents out and secure the win in front of an excellent following of supporters.

Paul Hurst named a strong line-up as the build-up to the National League kick-off on August 21 continued, with James McKeown in goal behind a back four of Michee Efete, Shaun Pearson, David Longe-King and Seb Revan.

Harry Clifton, Giles Coke and Ben Fox made up the midfield, with Luis Adlard and McAtee either side of Edwin Essel in attack.

The Grimsby substitutes were Ollie Battersby, Ryan Sears, Luke Spokes, Harvey Tomlinson and Jaz Goundry.

Alfreton's starting XI included two familiar faces in former Mariners attacker Dayle Southwell and ex-Town loanee Shaun Tuton, while ex-Lincoln City striker Matt Rhead was among the subs after signing for the club earlier in the summer.

An early home corner was comfortably dealt with, before Town took the lead with their first real attack on seven minutes. Revan did well to get down the left and after an exchange of passes with McAtee, an opening was created for the attacker to calmly slot past keeper George Willis and into the far corner of the net.

Harvey Grice was given an opportunity to hit back for the hosts five minutes later after Town failed to clear their lines but his dipping shot from 25 yaards cleared McKeown's crossbar.

A corner soon afterwards was headed clear by Pearson, before Fox did well to block a follow-up effort from an Alfreton trialist.

Town were controlling possession by the midway point of the half, albeit without causing further problems for Willis, while Alfreton were relying on the long throw of Adam Lund as their main attacking weapon.

A foul on Rio Molyneux gave the home side a free kick on the right but they were unable to make it count as McKeown was fouled in the process of claiming the delivery from Grice.

Coke was shown the yellow card on 31 minutes after a late challenge on Molyneux which gave Alfreton another free kick, this time in a central position and around 35 yards from goal. Grice fired harmlessly over the bar from it.

Town almost had an opportunity at the other end soon afterwards when a free kick for a push on McAtee was worked to Clifton but his ball was just too far ahead of McAtee for him to run onto it.

McAtee then drove through the middle to create the Mariners' next chance on 39 minutes, although he could not hit the target after letting fly from 25 yards.

A good run and cross from Revan on the left saw the ball fall for Clifton but he too could not force the keeper into action as he glanced a header wide.

Another opening came a minute before the break as the ball was threaded through for Essel but when he pulled it back across the six-yard line, nobody in black and white was there to convert the chance and the hosts cleared for a corner.

Town kept the pressure up from the flag-kick as it was played low for McAtee but his shot was blocked and the ball was put out for another corner. This time, Alfreton were able to deal with the danger, leaving the Mariners with a one-goal advantage at the interval.

No Grimsby changes were made before the restart, although Elliott Reeves replaced Southwell for the hosts.

McAtee had Town's first chance of the second half but after being found by Adlard, his shot from the edge of the penalty area was stopped by Willis.

A foul on the right gave the Mariners another opportunity to create danger, although McAtee's free kick was headed clear.

Conor Branson came on for Dom Smith in the Alfreton defence on 58 minutes and it was the hosts who had the next set-piece after a foul on Molyneux on the right. Efete got his head to the ball into the box from the free kick but Town were unable to clear the danger, although nobody in red could get on the end of the return ball and it dropped kindly for McKeown.

Rhead and Dan Bradley were sent on in place of Molyneux and Grice as the home side kept looking for an equaliser but a foul on Essel gave Town a chance to put the ball into the box at the other end on 70 minutes. Essel was replaced by Spokes before the free kick was taken and the ball from it was headed clear.

Another Alfreton change came three minutes later as Bobby Johnson was introduced and his first action saw him win a free kick in a dangerous, central position. The substitute took it himself but shot straight at McKeown, who claimed a comfortable catch.

The home side were looking the more dangerous as the game moved into its final 15 minutes but Town were defending well and they had a free kick of their own when Fox was brought down 25 yards out. McAtee took it but his shot was held by keeper Willis.

Fox was replaced by Tomlinson after going down with an injury on 83 minutes and Alfreton had another chance to draw level soon afterwards but McKeown produced a brilliant save to keep Rhead out, although the offside flag went up against the frontman in any case.

The hosts kept searching for a way back into the game but ultimately, an equaliser didn't come as Town held firm to seal a hard-fought win.

The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when they make the short trip to face Boston United.

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