REPORT | Mariners fall to defeat in South Yorkshire

Grimsby Town were forced to return home empty-handed from their clash with Doncaster Rovers at the Eco-Power Stadium, despite a performance which deserved more.

The Mariners were the better side for long periods on a cool autumn afternoon in South Yorkshire.

But in a tight game of few genuine chances, they were unable to take any of their opportunities and were made to pay when Joe Ironside converted a second-half penalty for what proved to be the only goal of the game.

Town, backed by a large and noisy travelling support, pushed forward in search of an equaliser but Doncaster closed out the game to take all three points and send their visitors to a fourth consecutive Sky Bet League Two defeat.

Harvey Cartwright replaced Jake Eastwood in goal and Harry Clifton came in for Toby Mullarkey as Paul Hurst made two changes to his team following the home loss to Colchester United in midweek.

Cartwright started behind a back four of Michee Efete, Harvey Rodgers, Niall Maher and Danny Amos, with Kamil Conteh and Gavan Holohan behind Donovan Wilson, Clifton and Abo Eisa in midfield as Danny Rose led the attack.

Eastwood and Mullarkey were both named on the bench, along with Kieran Green, Luke Waterfall, Rekeil Pyke, Arthur Gnahoua and Jamie Andrews.

Doncaster were also looking to bounce back from a home defeat after they were beaten by Salford City on Tuesday.

Manager Grant McCann would look to strikers Mo Faal and Ironside to fire his side back to winning ways.

Town had the first opening of the game through Wilson on the right three minutes in but after cutting into the penalty area, the attacker tried to pick out a team-mate with a cross to the far post instead of shooting and the ball went away for a throw-in.

Doncaster won the first corner three minutes later, although they were unable to turn it into a chance in front of goal.

The Mariners had started the game well and they created another chance after good play by Holohan saw him get the ball out to Rose in space on the right.  The striker’s cross was met by Holohan but his header missed the target.

Amos played a free kick low into the box for Wilson but the home defence recovered to clear the danger, then an Efete cross was cleared before it could reach Rose as Town attacked again.

A home corner on 15 minutes turned into another one and this time, a clever routine saw the ball played short for Zain Westbrooke to chip it to Ben Close in a central position, although the midfielder’s strike flew over the bar.

Harrison Biggins replaced the injured Luke Molyneux as Doncaster were forced into an early substitution on 21 minutes, before a cross from George Broadbent on the left was headed clear by Maher.

The hosts had a good chance to take the lead soon afterwards, when Amos was dispossessed by Tom Nixon near the right corner flag.  He pulled it back for Ironside but the striker could only lift his shot over the bar.

After Town’s positive start to the game, Doncaster were starting to get on top as the half-hour approached and they won another corner on the right, although Westbrooke’s delivery from it was ruled to have gone out of play for a goal kick.

A Biggins cross was headed away by Efete but the home side kept possession and a foul on Nixon gave them a free kick on the edge of the Town penalty area.  Biggins blasted it into the Town wall and the ball was eventually scrambled clear after Cartwright had made a smart block at his near post from the rebound.

A push on Wilson brought a Grimsby free kick on the right on 37 minutes, although Eisa’s delivery was headed away at the near post and a return ball into the box led to an offside decision.

Holohan had an opportunity soon afterwards when he ran onto a through-ball from Wilson but he was denied by home goalkeeper Louis Jones, who dived to tip the midfielder’s low shot around his post for a corner.

A foul by Efete on Broadbent gave Doncaster a free kick on their left and when the ball from it was eventually played into the penalty area, Jack Senior was denied by a brilliant block from Amos.

Holohan was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon for a foul on Broadbent but the free kick from near the halfway line was dealt with.

The fourth official signalled for a minimum of four added minutes but neither side could force a breakthrough before the half-time whistle, leaving the game goalless at the break.




No further changes were made before the restart and an early Nixon cross was headed away by Rodgers, before a return ball into the box hit the side-netting.

Eisa saw a shot blocked at the other end after good work by Clifton on the left, then defender Owen Bailey was booked for a late challenge on Rose.

Rose turned an Efete cross behind at the near post for a goal kick, before a cross from Close at the other end was deflected away for a corner on the home right.  Senior’s delivery from the flag was well-claimed by Cartwright.

Town looked to have gone close to taking the lead when a Holohan cross from the right was flicked by Rose.  The ball bounced back off the post and rolled along the line but the offside flag had already gone up against the striker.

Faal was caught offside, before a cross from the Doncaster left was headed wide for a goal kick on the hour.

The game was moving from end to end at pace as both sides attacked in search of an opening goal, although neither keeper was being seriously tested.

An Amos cross was volleyed clear by Westbrooke, before Kyle Hurst replaced Broadbent in Doncaster’s second substitution.

Close was booked for bringing Clifton down as the midfielder looked to break over the halfway line, then Amos won a corner on the left when his cross was blocked.  Clifton worked a short corner routine with Holohan but when the ball was played into the box, it was touched back to keeper Jones.

The deadlock was finally broken on 72 minutes and it was the hosts who took the lead.  Holohan brought Hurst down inside the box and after the referee pointed to the penalty spot, IRONSIDE stepped up to fire past Cartwright.

A hopeful penalty appeal came from the Town fans when Rose went down at the other end but the referee waved play-on.

Rose was then booked for a late challenge on Bailey on the Doncaster left, although the hosts were unable to make an impact from the free kick.

Another penalty shout came for a push on Clifton as he attempted to meet a cross from Eisa at the far post, although a goal kick was given.

More good play by Eisa down the left saw him win a corner on 80 minutes and this time, Rodgers went down as the ball came across from the flag.  Again, a goal kick was the result and Jones was shown the yellow card for timewasting before it was taken.

A shot from Hurst was deflected into the side-netting for a corner after a quick break by the hosts and from the flag-kick, it was almost 2-0 as Westbrooke’s ball found its way through to Faal at the far post.  Fortunately for Town, he only divert it over the bar from close range.

A Grimsby corner on 86 minutes was cleared, before Pyke replaced Amos and a double-substitution for the hosts saw Joseph Olowu and Jack Goodman replace Close and Ironside.

Doncaster were inches away from wrapping the points up when Westbrooke played a corner low to Bailey but his powerful strike from 20 yards took a deflection and cannoned off the top of the bar for another flag-kick, which was dealt with.

Town were given at least five additional minutes to rescue something from the game and they had a platform to create danger with a free kick from the left, although Eisa’s delivery into the box was caught by Jones.

That proved to be their last opportunity to force an equaliser as Doncaster held on to take the points.

The Mariners now turn their attention to the FA Cup and a trip to face Slough Town on Sunday, November 5.


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