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Match Reports

Match report: Grimsby Town 4-3 Barnet

Mariners stage brilliant comeback to earn all three points in seven-goal thriller

4 September 2021

Grimsby Town came from 3-1 down to beat 10-man Barnet on an incredible afternoon at Blundell Park.

In a see-saw contest, the Mariners took an early lead when John McAtee converted a penalty but despite creating some good chances to add to their lead, they found themselves behind at the break after Serhat Tasdemir and Mason Bloomfield's goals turned the game in the visitors' favour.

Barnet added to their advantage when former Mariner Joe Widdowson nodded in from close range to give them a two-goal advantage but the turning point came moments later when McAtee scored from the penalty spot for a second time after defender Josh Doherty was sent off for handball.

Barnet head coach Harry Kewell was also shown the red card and with the momentum now firmly in the home side's favour, Ryan Taylor levelled the scores before a superb Alex Hunt free kick in added time gave the Mariners all three points.

Three changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI following the midweek draw at Stockport County, with Shaun Pearson, Will Bapaga and Erico Sousa coming in for David Longe-King, Harry Clifton and Seb Revan.

James McKeown started in goal, with Michee Efete, Pearson, Luke Waterfall and Adam Crookes forming the defence. Bapaga, Giles Coke, Hunt and Sousa were the midfielders, with Taylor and John McAtee linking up in attack.

Clifton and Revan were both named on the bench, alongside Max Wright, Ben Fox and Edwin Essel.

Barnet travelled north looking for their first win of the season, having lost two and drawn one of their opening three National League fixtures.

Formr Leeds United and Liverpool star Kewell named ex-Town left-back Joe Widdowson in his starting line-up.

Sousa won the first corner of the game on three minutes after a run down the right and it eventually led to the opening goal, as Waterfall's header was blocked by the arm of a defender. The Mariners players appealed for a penalty and after referee Daniel Middleton pointed to the spot, McATEE stepped up and sent keeper Sam Sargeant the wrong way.

Barnet's response saw them win a free kick on the left but the ball from it towards the far post was headed behind for a corner by Coke. Harry Taylor's ball from the flag was headed clear by Efete.

Town threatened again on 10 minutes as Sousa broke down the right and after playing a neat one-two with McAtee, he had an opening for a low cross but the ball was just too far ahead of Taylor and it was collected by Sargeant.

A foul by Coke on Tasdemir gave the visitors a free kick inside the Town half soon afterwards, although Kian Flanagan's chipped delivery was headed clear by Pearson.

David Sesay flashed a shot over McKeown's bar from 18 yards on 13 minutes, before Bapaga cut in from the left at the other end and sent a low shot wide of tthe near post from distance.

A foul by Crookes on Sesay gave Barnet a free kick on the right. Doherty's delivery was not fully dealt with and the ball dropped for Bloomfield, whose powerful half-volley from 20 yards was pushed away by McKeown for a corner.

Town had a chance on the counter-attack soon afterwards, with McAtee running at pace down the right before finding Sousa, whose shot from inside the box was blocked.

The hosts thought they had doubled their lead on 22 minutes when another good move down the right led to Taylor finding the net but the referee's whistle had already gone for a foul by the striker.

Sousa was causing plenty of problems for the Barnet defence and he attacked again on 26 minutes, this time through the middle. The winger slipped the ball through for McAtee but his shot was blocked.

Another opportunity came when Town worked the ball into the penalty area again and after it fell for Crookes on the left, he pulled it back for McAtee but this time, the attacker could only direct it wide of the target.

A late challenge by Sesay on Bapaga brought a free kick near the corner flag on the Town left just after the half-hour, although Hunt's delivery was glanced wide at the near post by Taylor.

The home side had dominated the game so far and could have led by more than one goal but on 33 minutes, they had it all to do again as Barnet equalised. Sesay beat Crookes down the away right and pulled the ball back for TASDEMIR, who swept it past McKeown and into the net.

A low ball across the six-yard line from Efete at the other end beat everybody, before a push on Taylor gave the Mariners another opportunity to attack with a free kick from the right. Hunt's ball was headed back across goal by Waterfall but Widdowson bravely dived to get to it ahead of Pearson, who was adjudged to have fouled the defender.

Flanagan tried his luck with a curling effort from 25 yards which flew just over the bar as the visitors started to take the initiative after coming into the game following Town's positive start.

And three minutes before the break, Barnet completed the turnaround as they took the lead. Town lost possession in midfield and after good work by Sesay on the right, the ball was played to BLOOMFIELD, who flicked it past McKeown to make it 2-1.

Three added minutes were played at the end of the half and a foul on Taylor near the halfway line gave Town an opportunity to put pressure on the Barnet goal. Hunt's ball fell for Bapaga on the left and he crossed for Taylor but the striker could not get enough power on his header to beat Sargeant.

That meant the visitors held onto their advantage at the interval, with Town needing to come from behind if they were to get anything from the game.

No changes were made before the restart and an early Mariners corner from Hunt was met by Pearson but his header was kept out by keeper Sargeant.

McAtee fizzed a cross-shot over from the right of the penalty area and it took a deflection for another corner, although this time, Hunt's ball from the flag beat everybody and went out for a goal kick.

Another corner on 50 minutes was cleared by Widdowson as Town kept attacking in search of an early equaliser, with Sousa hitting the side-netting with an attempt from a narrow angle soon afterwards.

McAtee and Sousa linked up to create an opening on 56 minutes but Sousa was unable to find a finish, then a shot by McAtee from 25 yards was deflected away for another corner. Hunt's ball from the flag found Waterfall but he could only head over the bar.

Sesay showed good pace to beat Crookes down the visitors' right on the hour but his low ball into the box was cut out by Pearson. There was to be no such luck from the resulting throw-in though, as the ball was headed on and WIDDOWSON found himself free to nod into an empty net from close range.

Town's response was swift and they were given an almost instant chance to reduce the deficit back to one goal. A shot was blocked by defender Josh Doherty with his hand and the referee again pointed to the penalty spot, as well as brandishing the red card to send Doherty off. McATEE again kept his nerve from 12 yards to find the net and make it 3-2.

Barnet boss Kewell was also shown the red card in the aftermath of the incident for dissent, meaning the visitors were now a man down on the pitch and in the dug-out and not long after going 3-1 down, the Mariners were now firmly back in the contest and had the momentum in their favour.

A curling shot by Bapaga was well-saved by Sargeant, then another corner came as the noise levels around Blundell Park continued to go up.

Ben Nugent replaced Ephron Mason-Clark and Jordan Thomas came on for Sesay as Barnet made a double-substitution, with the visitors looking to slow the game down at every opportunity.

But the Mariners were now on the up and they were back on level terms with 15 minutes to go. Efete found Sousa down the right and his cross to the near post fell perfectly for TAYLOR to plant a diving header into the net and make it 3-3.

A low effort by McAtee was well-blocked by Sargeant with his feet, with Bapaga unable to profit from the rebound, as the hosts looked to complete their comeback with a fourth goal.

Efete won a corner after playing a one-two with Sousa around the edge of the box and before it was taken, Bapaga was replaced by Wright. Hunt's flag-kick was headed clear by Bloomfield.

Taylor was booked for a foul on Nugent on 81 minutes, before Clifton replaced Coke four minutes later.

Clifton's first involvement saw him fire a shot from 25 yards which narrowly missed the target.

A cross from Wright was volleyed towards goal by McAtee and put out for a corner as Town kept pushing for a winning goal.

They were given six minutes of added time to get that winner and the home fans did not have to wait much longer to celebrate as the Mariners made their breakthrough. Town won a free kick 25 yards out and HUNT stepped up to send a brilliant shot past Sargeant and into the top corner of the net in front of a jubilant Pontoon Stand.

Hunt was replaced by Fox for the closing stages of the game and Barnet had one last chance to grab something from the game when they won a corner five minutes into the added time. Flanagan's ball from the flag caused no problems though and for the second Saturday in a row, the 5,000-plus home crowd went home happy.

The Mariners had shown huge amounts of character to earn all three points and keep their unbeaten start to the season going.

They are next in action on Saturday, when they make the long trip to Torquay United.

 


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