REPORT | Mariners Beaten by Stockport

Grimsby Town battled back from two goals down but eventually fell to defeat against table-topping Stockport County at Edgeley Park.

The Mariners had a mountain to climb after a Louie Barry penalty put the hosts ahead and Isaac Olaofe made it 2-0 with just eight minutes on the clock.

Stockport could have put the result beyond doubt when they were awarded a second penalty soon after the half-hour but this time, Olaofe sent his spot-kick wide.

Instead, Town pulled a goal back through Donovan Wilson in first-half stoppage time and they went on to level the scores after the break when Gavan Holohan converted the game’s third penalty.

But despite a brave performance, the visitors were forced to return to North East Lincolnshire empty-handed as an unfortunate Harry Clifton own-goal settled what had been an entertaining contest.

Four changes were made to the Grimsby team after last week’s home defeat by Accrington Stanley, with Michee Efete, Niall Maher, Holohan and Wilson coming in as Arthur Gnahoua, Jamie Andrews, Abo Eisa and the suspended Luke Waterfall made way.

Jake Eastwood started in goal, with Efete and Danny Amos in the wing-back positions as Toby Mullarkey, Harvey Rodgers and Maher formed a centre-back trio.  Holohan was joined by Kamil Conteh and Clifton in midfield and Wilson lined up alongside Danny Rose in attack.

Gnahoua, Andrews and Eisa were all named as substitutes, along with Harvey Cartwright, Rekeil Pyke, Otis Khan and Alex Hunt.

Stockport came into the game looking to keep their position at the summit of Sky Bet League Two by registering an eighth league win in a row.

Dave Challinor’s side was unchanged from their away victory over Harrogate last time out and the manager would look to strikers Olaofe and Barry to add to their combined 15 goals so far this season, while Paddy Madden and Kyle Wootton could provide further firepower from the bench.

Town were first to attack and a flowing move created an opening for Clifton but the home defence recovered to get the ball away for a throw-in.

Olaofe was caught offside as Stockport went forward for the first time on four minutes, before a blocked cross from the home left brought the first corner.  The flag-kick was played short and Will Collar went down inside the box after a tangle with Maher.  The referee pointed to the penalty spot and BARRY stepped up to beat Eastwood and open the scoring.

Almost as soon as they had fallen behind, Town’s task was made even tougher as the home side doubled their advantage with just eight minutes on the clock.  This time, OLAOFE raced through the middle and after beating Rodgers, he calmly slotted past the keeper.

Clifton was shown the first yellow card on 12 minutes for bringing Ryan Croasdale down inside the Town half but the resulting free kick was dealt with by Rodgers.

Holohan set off on a run through the middle as the Mariners looked to respond but a good challenge stopped him near the edge of the penalty area, then a cross from the home left was headed clear by Amos.

A well-worked Stockport corner from their right led to Antoni Sarcevic hitting a shot which was blocked, before Town put together a promising spell of possession inside the home half, albeit without causing a problem for goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe.

Wilson almost found a way through after getting on the end of a long pass but the striker was off-balance and the ball was eventually gathered by Hinchliffe.

A push on Rose gave Town a free kick inside the Stockport half but when the ball from it fell for Mullarkey, his low shot was blocked.  The hosts broke and the ball was played to Olaofe but his strike was brilliantly blocked by Clifton.

Barry beat Mullarkey down the left to create the next chance for the hosts but when he cut inside and let fly with a powerful shot, Eastwood was equal to it.  The rebound fell to Sarcevic, although a superb block from Maher kept him out and Amos also did well to block a follow-up strike.

At the other end, a shot by Clifton was blocked after Wilson had chased down a long ball, with the visitors aiming to work their way back into the contest.

Stockport were given an opportunity to put the result beyond doubt on 38 minutes though, when a long kick by Hinchliffe picked Olaofe out on the right.  He made progress into the box and was brought down by the advancing Eastwood.  The referee pointed to the spot for a second time and booked the keeper but Olaofe could not take advantage as his penalty went wide of the target.

The fourth official signalled for at least five minutes of added time and the Mariners managed to get themselves back into the game as they halved their deficit, with WILSON pouncing to turn a loose ball into the net and make it 2-1 after Amos had met a cross at the far post.

Barry let fly with a shot as Stockport aimed to restore their cushion before the break but his effort was blocked, meaning there was just one goal between the two teams when they went into the dressing rooms.




No changes were made before the restart and Town were straight on the attack, with Holohan sending a cross over from the right which Rose was unable to get to at the far post.  The ball fell for Amos but his shot was kept out.

Sarcevic chipped a cross onto the bar at the other end, before a foul on Wilson gave the Mariners a free kick on the edge of the Stockport penalty area.  Holohan’s shot hit the home defensive wall and Amos’ volley from the rebound was blocked.

Town had made a positive start to the second half and they got their reward seven minutes in, when Clifton was brought down inside the box by Hinchliffe and the referee gave the third penalty of the game.  After the goalkeeper was booked, HOLOHAN stepped up to confidently level the scores from 12 yards.

Myles Hippolyte replaced Odin Bailey as the hosts made the first substitution on 59 minutes, with Grimsby continuing to grow in confidence after getting their equaliser.

A cross from Macauley Southam-Hales was headed clear, before a foul on Olaofe gave the hosts a free kick in a dangerous position, although the ball from it was dealt with.

Hippolyte was booked for what was adjudged to be a dive in a challenge with Mullarkey, then Clifton sent a long-range strike wide from Town’s next attack.

Olaofe was caught offside as he ran onto a through-ball from Hippolyte, before a free kick on the right gave the visitors a platform to put pressure on the home goal.  Amos’ delivery into the box was headed clear by Croasdale.

Rodgers was shown the yellow card after a late challenge on 73 minutes and before the free kick was taken, a double-substitution saw Pyke and Khan replace Wilson and Holohan.  The hosts reclaimed the lead when play restarted, as Sarcevic’s delivery was headed back across goal and with Barry looking to pounce, the ball was diverted into the net by the unlucky Clifton for an own-goal.

A foul on Efete gave Town a free kick on the right and Khan’s ball from it was half-cleared but the away side retained possession and a cross was headed wide by Rose.

Wootton replaced Barry for the home side with 12 minutes to go and his first involvement was to take advantage of a mistake in the away defence and shoot from 18 yards, although Eastwood got down to make a stop.

A Maher long throw was cleared as Town went in search of another equaliser and a share of the spoils which their second-half performance had deserved.

Eastwood came off his line to claim a cross from Hippolyte, before the hosts won a corner when a cross from the right was turned behind.  The ball from the flag was also caught by Eastwood.

The fourth official signalled a minimum of nine extra minutes and Eisa replaced Clifton for the closing stages in a bid to force a crucial third goal.

It was not to come for the men in black and white though, as they were unable to find a way through and after Olaofe narrowly failed to connect with a diving header at the other end, the final whistle meant a battling performance by Town went unrewarded.

The Mariners are next in action on Tuesday, when they host Colchester United at Blundell Park.



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