Mariners Back At Blundell Park This Weekend

Grimsby Town were knocked out of the FA Cup as National League North Kidderminster Harriers produced an upset at Aggborough.

On a windy afternoon in the West Midlands, a single goal ultimately proved enough to settle this first round tie, with Ashley Hemmings scoring from the penalty spot after Luke Waterfall was adjudged to have brought down substitute Ethan Freemantle.

The hosts started well but Town grew into the game and before the goal, it was the Mariners who looked the more likely to break the deadlock as Lenell John-Lewis, Ryley Towler and Michee Efete all went close.

After falling behind, the away side pushed forward in search of an equaliser but they were unable to find one and had a penalty claim of their own denied when Ben Fox went down under a challenge inside the box.

It meant Town were left with a third defeat on the bounce in all competitions and the 921 fans in another superb away following went home disappointed.

Six changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI that began the home loss to Notts County last Saturday. Max Crocombe, Efete, David Longe-King, Seb Revan, Will Bapaga and Ryan Taylor came into the team, with James McKeown, Ryan Sears, Adam Crookes, Alex Hunt, Erico Sousa and John-Lewis making way.

Crocombe was given the nod in goal, as he had been for the fourth qualifyng round win at Bromsgrove, while Efete and Revan operated as wing-backs and Longe-King, Waterfall and Towler formed a centre-back trio. Giles Coke, Fox and Harry Clifton were the midfielders, with Bapaga supporting Taylor in attack.

Youngsters Evan Khouri, Aaron Braithwaite and Edwin Essel all came onto an eight-man substitutes’ bench, where there was also a first place in a Town matchday squad for Joel Grant alongside McKeown, Sears, John-Lewis and Shaun Pearson.

Kidderminster sat sixth in their division at kick-off and were aiming to bridge the gap between themselves and the National League Mariners to win the game and reach the second round.

The hosts were buoyed by a 4-0 home victory over Spennymoor Town last week and would look to the likes of former Luton striker Amari Morgan-Smith for firepower.

Bapaga was stopped inside the penalty area by defender Alex Penny in Town’s first attack of note on three minutes, before a header from Morgan-Smith was saved by Crocombe at the other end.

Morgan-Smith then hit a half-volley into the side-netting after getting in between the centre-backs to meet a ball from Sam Austin as the home side continued what had been a lively start to the game from them.

Fox sent a shot through to home keeper Luke Simpson after good play by Taylor, before Bapaga also hit the target with a low effort after being found at the near post by Efete.

An early Kidderminster booking came when Morgan-Smith was shown the yellow card on 19 minutes for a foul on Crocombe.

Five minutes later, a chance for the hosts was not taken as the unmarked Penny met a ball towards the far post but his shot was mis-hit and Town escaped.

At the other end, Fox let fly from distance, although a deflection took the sting out of the shot and the ball went through to Simpson.

Towler did well to stop the progress of Ashley Hemmings as the home side launched a quick break just before the half-hour, with Waterfall seeing the ball out for a goal kick.

Revan and Fox combined in a Mariners attack on 36 minutes which eventually led to the midfielder firing a ball across goal but nobody could get on the end of it.

Town were enjoying their best spell so far as the half moved into its final five minutes and a foul on Bapaga gave them a free kick in a promising position. Revan’s delivery into the penalty area was too strong though and the ball ran out of play for a goal kick.

Soon afterwards, Fox looked for Revan with a ball into the box but again, it had slightly too much power and the wing-back was not able to turn a header towards goal.

A cross from Bapaga was headed clear as the half moved into one added minute, then a foul by Waterfall gave Kidderminster a free kick but Hemmings’ ball went through to Crocombe.

That meant it remained all-square at the break, with Town coming into the game after the home side made the better start.

No changes were made before the restart and the Mariners had the first opening of the second half four minutes in as Efete got in behind the home defence on the right. He crossed towards the run of Taylor but the low ball was held by keeper Simpson.

A left-wing cross from Clifton was then put over the bar for a corner as Taylor stretched towards the ball. Revan’s delivery from the flag was met by Towler but he could only head wide.

Coke needed treatment after going down in a challenge on 53 minutes, although the midfilder was passed fit to play on and when the game continued, the offside flag went up following Revan’s free kick.

Another stoppage came when Bapaga picked up a knock, before Towler was booked for a foul. The resulting free kick was taken by Omari Sterling but his 35-yard effort was comfortable for Crocombe.

John-Lewis replaced Bapaga in Town’s first substitution on the hour and his first involvement led to a corner when his shot was blocked. Fox’s looping delivery from the flag was headed back across goal for Waterfall, who shot wide.

Town were forced to do some defending on 65 minutes as the ball bounced around their penalty area but Caleb Richards was not able to get a shot away and the visitors cleared their lines.

Freemantle replaced Morgan-Smith for the hosts, before another opening came for John-Lewis, although his shot was saved by Simpson and the ball went out for a corner.

Efete hit the outside of the post from a narrow angle after being found by Clifton as Town kept the pressure up in search of a breakthrough, with a little more than 20 minutes remaining.

But despite the away side looking the more likely to open the scoring, it was Kidderminster who broke the deadlock on 71 minutes. Waterfall was adjudged to have brought Freemantle down inside the penalty area and after the referee pointed to the spot, HEMMINGS sent Crocombe the wrong way from 12 yards.

Fox was booked after a late challenge, before Grant was sent on for his Grimsby debut in place of Waterfall in a move which saw them switch to a 4-4-2 formation in a bid to get back into the contest and stay in the cup.

Grant was unable to pick out a team-mate with a ball into the box and midfielder Mark Carrington brought it clear as he set off on a run which was eventually stopped by Coke.

Sterling was shown the yellow card for a foul on Clifton, before goalscorer Hemmings was replaced by Keziah Martin with 10 minutes to go.

A foul by Revan gave Kidderminster a free kick near the corner flag but the ball into the box from it was headed clear.

A Town free kick was then awarded after a foul on Coke and after it was cleared for a throw-in, a penalty appeal came when Fox went down but the claims were waved away by the referee.

The Mariners continued to push forward as the clock ticked down but they were not being given any space by the home defence as Kidderminster looked to see the remainder of the game out.

Simpson got to a ball from Efete ahead of Grant, before the keeper went down with an injury as the game moved into five added minutes.

Town kept pressing as they tried to rescue a draw and a replay at Blundell Park but they were unable to find a way through and when the final whistle blew, it was the hosts who were celebrating a place in Monday’s second round draw.

The Mariners will now look ahead to returning to league action when they travel to Aldershot on Saturday.


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