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Match Reports

Match report: Grimsby Town 2-0 Eastleigh

Efete and Fox on-target as Mariners earn another three points

18 September 2021

Grimsby Town's superb start to the National League season continued as they beat Eastleigh at Blundell Park.

After the euphoria of Tuesday's home victory over Wrexham, the Mariners were made to work hard for a breakthrough in a tight first half but Michee Efete's header just before the break gave them the advantage.

Town were in control after half-time and a fantastic strike by Ben Fox made sure of the points, before substitute John McAtee missed an opportunity to make it 3-0 as his added time penalty came back off the post.

Two changes were made to the Grimsby line-up following the midweek win, with Fox and Will Bapaga coming in for Giles Coke and McAtee.

James McKeown started in goal, with Efete, Luke Waterfall, Ryley Towler and Adam Crookes forming an unchanged defence. Fox, Alex Hunt and Harry Clifton were the midfielders, with Bapaga and Erico Sousa supporting Ryan Taylor in attack.

Coke and McAtee were joined on the bench by Seb Revan, Shaun Pearson and Lenell John-Lewis.

Eastleigh were looking to make it back-to-back victories after getting their first win of the season with a 4-1 success against Dover in midweek.

They were unchanged from that game, with former Mariners defender Andrew Boyce wearing the captain's armband.

Town were on the attack within 30 seconds of the kick-off, as a low cross from Efete was collected by keeper Joe McDonnell.

Eastleigh were also looking to make an early impression and a foul by Hunt gave them a free kick on the left, which was headed out by Waterfall for the game's first corner.

A cross from Bapaga was deflected away for a Town corner at the other end on nine minutes but Hunt's delivery was headed wide by Towler.

Clifton let fly with a low effort from 25 yards which was stopped by McDonnell, while McKeown remained untroubled at the other end as the visitors failed to make the most of their early possession.

Striker Ben House won a corner for Eastleigh on 18 minutes but the danger was cleared by Taylor following a burst into the penalty area after the ball was played short.

Vincent Harper was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon for bringing Sousa down near the dug-outs, although the game was yet to really come to life as the 20-minute mark passed.

A good chance came on 26 minutes when Sousa got down the right and sent over a cross which was met by Clifton but the midfielder's header bounced up into the arms of McDonnell.

Another opportunity came with a right-wing corner on the half-hour but Hunt's ball from it was cleared. Town retained possession though and they won a throw-in on the left, which was also dealt with by the away side.

A foul near the halfway line gave Eastleigh a chance to attack on 35 minutes and Tom Whelan's delivery to the edge of the box found House but he was stopped by Taylor, who did well to hook the ball clear.

Crookes linked up with Clifton down the home left soon afterwards and the midfielder pulled the ball back for Bapaga, whose shot was blocked.

A corner from Eastleigh's Whelan was cleared by Crookes, before Sousa was off-target after working an opening for a shot from the edge of the box at the other end.

Fox won a corner on 45 minutes as the Mariners searched for a breakthrough before half-time and this time, the deadlock was broken as Hunt's driven delivery was met by EFETE, who powered a header past the keeper and into the top corner of the net.

Two added minutes were played at the end of the half and with no further chances for either side, the Mariners held the advantage at the interval.

No changes were made before the restart and an early Eastleigh free kick was dealt with by Towler, before a low ball by Bapaga was cleared after a run down the right.

Town won the first corner of the half but this time, they were unable to make it count as Hunt's ball drifted wide of the far post.

Hunt escaped a booking after a late challenge on Cavaghn Miley but Waterfall was not so lucky as he was shown the yellow card for a foul on House as the striker looked to make progress towards the Town penalty area.

A foul on Sousa gave the hosts a free kick midway inside the Eastleigh half on 57 minutes but after Hunt's ball from it was headed on by Fox, Efete's header landed on the roof of the net.

At the other end, Josh Hare planted a free header wide after meeting a cross from the left as a rare chance for the visitors came and went.

Harry Pritchard then curled a shot wide of the far post after some good build-up play involving Harper as the away side's short spell of pressure continued.

Miley was booked for a foul on Hunt, who was then replaced by McAtee as Town made the game's first substitution just after the hour.

McAtee saw a shot blocked, then a low cross from Fox was cleared as the Mariners went in search of a second goal.

House was yellow-carded for a high boot on Efete, before Bapaga drew a good save from keeper McDonnell after cutting into the box from the left and letting fly with a powerful drive.

Danny Whitehall replaced Harper and Sam Smart came on for Joe Low as the away side made a double-substitution with 20 minutes to go.

An opening for the Mariners came when Efete's ball down the line found McAtee and he got to the by-line but could not pick a team-mate out when he pulled it back across the penalty area.

Ryan Hill became the latest Eastleigh player to see the referee's yellow card after a foul on Efete.

And soon afterwards, the Mariners made sure of all three points when they scored a spectacular second goal. McAtee's touch set up FOX and the midfielder arrowed a shot into the top corner of the net from 20 yards.

John-Lewis was sent on in place of Taylor after the goal, then Revan followed the striker onto the pitch as he replaced Sousa on 78 minutes.

Jake Heketh replaced Hill for Eastleigh with 10 minutes left to play, before a foul on Clifton gave the Mariners a free kick in a central position, 25 yards from goal. McAtee's shot hit the visitors' wall.

A foul by Efete gave the away side a free kick on the edge of the Town penalty area on 86 minutes but it caused no serious problems as Hesketh's ball was headed wide by Boyce.

McAtee then sent a shot wide of the far post after a run from the left, while Boyce could only find the Osmond Stand as he tried his luck from 25 yards for Eastleigh.

Five added minutes were played at the end of the game and the Mariners were given the opportunity to make it 3-0 when Bapaga was brought down inside the box by Boyce. The referee pointed to the penalty spot but although he sent the keeper the wrong way, McAtee could only watch the ball bounce back off the post.

It did not matter though, as the Mariners closed out the remainder of the game to keep up their unbeaten start to the season and make it five wins and a draw from six games so far.

Town are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to Maidenhead United.

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