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Match report: Altrincham 2-3 Grimsby Town

Mariners hold off late fightback to earn fantastic away win

5 October 2021

Ten-man Grimsby Town withstood a late Altrincham fightback to earn a superb away victory and stay top of the National League.

The Mariners turned on the style as they built up a three-goal lead against in-form opposition, with Will Bapaga opening the scoring on 27 minutes before Ryan Taylor and Harry Clifton struck after the break.

In the pouring Greater Manchester rain, Town were in full control and looked to be cruising towards three points, to the delight of a magnificent travelling support of 1,251.

But when Bapaga was sent off after being shown a second yellow card, the momentum quickly turned in favour of the hosts.

Dan Mooney pulled a goal back five minutes after the hour, then Jake Moult made it 3-2, to set up a nervous finish for the Mariners and their fans.

Town held firm though, with a determined defensive display in the closing stages adding to the attacking flair from earlier in the game to ensure they were able to celebrate at the final whistle.

Boss Paul Hurst named an unchanged Grimsby team after the 6-0 home win against Dover on Saturday, with goalkeeper James McKeown lining up behind a defence of Ryan Sears, Luke Waterfall, Ryley Towler and Adam Crookes.

Bapaga, Ben Fox, Alex Hunt and Clifton were the midfielders, with John McAtee behind Taylor in attack.

The list of substitutes also stayed the same, with Seb Revan, Shaun Pearson, Giles Coke, Erico Sousa and Lenell John-Lewis all named on the bench.

Altrincham came into the game off the back of a fine victory of their own at the weekend, as they fought back from 2-1 down to win at Dagenham and Redbridge.

They sat sixth in the table at kick-off, five points behind the Mariners but with two games in hand, and would look to the likes of leading scorer Mooney, striker Marcus Dinanga and former Scunthorpe attacker Ryan Colclough to cause problems for the Town defence.

McKeown did well to prevent an early corner after a long ball skimmed off Waterfall's head, before a foul on Bapaga gave Town an attacking platform with a free kick midway inside the Altrincham half.

Hunt's ball into the box was half-cleared but the visitors worked it back and Bapaga won the game's first corner, which was dealt with by the home defence. Altrincham launched a counter-attack through Mooney and Colclough but Clifton got back to stop the danger.

A cross from Crookes was headed clear by defender Toby Mullarkey as the Mariners continued a bright start to the game, with another corner coming on nine minutes. It led to a shooting opportunity for McAtee, who fired off-target.

Another McAtee shot was deflected just wide two minutes later, before an Altrincham corner came when a cross from Brad Jackson was blocked by Crookes. The delivery from the flag was punched away by McKeown and a follow-up effort by Colclough was straight at the keeper.

Dinanga also fired at McKeown soon afterwards as the home side began to come into the game for the first time but Town were still on top and a cross-shot by Bapaga narrowly missed the target on 18 minutes.

Mooney shot wide at the other end after a long goal kick by keeper Tony Thompson fell for him, then Mullarkey was shown the first yellow card of the evening for a foul on Clifton. Hunt's resulting free kick was headed on by Waterfall and the ball was volleyed off-target by Towler, although the referee had already blown for a home free kick.

McAtee almost had another chance on 25 minutes but Colclough got back to deal with the threat and win a free kick.

But soon afterwards, the Mariners got the opening goal which their efforts so far had deserved. Taylor found BAPAGA inside the penalty area and after moving to the left, the Coventry loanee cut back inside, kept his composure and smashed the ball past Thompson and high into the net from close range.

Taylor saw a shot blocked just after the half-hour as the away side immediately looked to add to their advantage, then he combined with Bapaga again to create another opening although this time, nobody could get on the end of Bapaga's chipped cross.

Altrincham won a free kick for foul on Josh Hancock but the set-piece caused no problems as the ball was cleared.

Another Town corner came on 35 minutes but Waterfall could only head wide, before an Altrincham attack was stopped by Towler as Dinanga looked to create a shooting chance.

A header from McAtee was blocked for a corner after a cross by Clifton, with the attacker appealing for a handball. Again, Hunt's drilled ball from the flag found Waterfall but the defender's header flew wide.

A stoppage came when Mullarkey went down with an injury but he was eventually passed fit to continue and soon afterwards, Bapaga became the first Town player to be booked after a foul on Joel Senior.

Two added minutes were played at the end of the half and with no further chances for either side, the Mariners went into the dressing rooms with the lead at the break.

No changes were made before the restart and Town were immediately on the attack through McAtee and Bapaga in a move which led to a corner.

The Mariners doubled their lead three minutes in after an Altrincham attack from a free kick broke down. Town launched a counter-attack and after a low cross was spilled by Thompson, TAYLOR was in the right place to find the net from close range with the rebound, in front of the packed away end.

The visitors were now firmly in control of the game and they went in search of a third goal but a shot from Bapaga was saved by the keeper.

They did not have to wait much longer to seemingly wrap the three points up though, as they made it 3-0 on 55 minutes. Taylor, McAtee and Hunt were involved in a brilliant flowing move which led to CLIFTON beating Thompson from 12 yards.

The Mariners would feel they had now done enoough to make the result safe but they were reduced to 10 men when Bapaga was shown a second yellow card, with the referee ruling he had not retreated at an Altrincham throw-in when the ball was thrown into his face.

The hosts had a brief spell of pressure after the red card, with a shot by Mooney blocked before the ball was gathered by McKeown.

Former Town loanee Ben Pringle came on for Dean Furman as the hosts made the first substitution of the game on the hour, then ex-Morecambe and Crewe striker A-Jay Leitch-Smith replaced Dinanga in the home side's second change two minutes later.

Altrincham pulled a goal back on 65 minutes when they kept possession after a corner was cleared and a shot from the edge of the box by MOONEY gave McKeown no chance.

Town responded well, as McAtee almost made it 4-1 after combining with Taylor for a one-two, although his shot was saved by the keeper and the visitors had to settle for a corner.

McAtee was denied by Thompson on 70 minutes as he tried to round the keeper, before Sousa replaced Taylor in Grimsby's first substitution.

An attempted lob by McAtee flew just over the bar, then the hosts won a corner when a cross was put behind by Towler. McKeown was booked for time-wasting before the flag-kick, which was put behind for another one. And this time, when Colclough's ball came across, it was bundled into the net from close range by MOULT to make it 3-2.

From looking out of sight at 3-0, the 10 men of the Mariners were now suddenly under pressure with 15 minutes of the game to go.

Colclough won another Altrincham corner on 78 minutes, which was punched away by McKeown. The hosts kept possession but when the ball came back into the box, it was sent over the bar by Mullarkey.

A deflected cross was claimed by McKeown as the hosts continued to go forward in search of an unlikely point.

John-Lewis replaced McAtee with seven minutes to go, before Matty Kosylo came on for Hancock for Altrincham.

Town were given an opportunity to relieve the pressure with a free kick in a shooting position on 89 minutes but Hunt's effort went just over the bar.

Four added minutes were signalled, with Altrincham still pushing forward in search of an equaliser.

Leitch-Smith had a chance but the ball went safely through to McKeown and try as they might, the hosts could not find a way through the determined Town defence as the visitors held on for a huge three points.

It meant Altrincham fell to a first home defeat of the season, while the Mariners moved two points clear of second-placed Boreham Wood in the league table.

Town are on the road again on Saturday, when they travel to Woking.

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