John McAtee marked his return to the starting line-up with the goal which confirmed Grimsby Town’s play-off place as the Mariners beat Boreham Wood at Blundell Park.
Needing only a point to guarantee a top-seven finish, Town took all three after dominating throughout against a Wood side who themselves came into the game with faint hopes of extending their season.
McAtee broke the deadlock after capitalising on a slip in the away defence and despite the hosts creating several chances to add to their advantage, one goal proved enough to win the game.
The club’s top scorer was one of three changes to the Grimsby XI which began the defeat by Maidenhead United on Saturday. He replaced Tristan Abrahams, while Shaun Pearson came in for the suspended Luke Waterfall and Erico Sousa was recalled in place of the injured Sean Scannell.
Max Crocombe started in goal, with Jordan Cropper, Andy Smith, Pearson and Danny Amos forming the defence. Sousa, Ben Fox, Gavan Holohan and Harry Clifton were the midfielders, with McAtee supporting Ryan Taylor in attack.
Abrahams was named on the bench, along with Adam Crookes, Scott Burgess, Jordan Maguire-Drew and Emmanuel Dieseruvwe.
Boreham Wood went into the game knowing they would have to win to keep their play-off hopes alive ahead of Sunday’s final round of National League fixtures, after slipping out of the top seven in recent weeks.
They were unchanged following a 2-2 draw at Yeovil last weekend and manager Luke Garrard would look to the likes of Scott Boden and Tyrone Marsh to fire them to victory.
Town attacked the Pontoon Stand end of the ground in the first half and they almost had the first opening when a cross from Cropper on the right was helped on by Taylor but nobody was there to apply a finishing touch.
Sousa won the first corner on five minutes but Amos’ delivery was hooked clear at the near post.
A mistake by Smith then allowed Dennon Lewis to make his way towards the penalty area at the other end in a move which eventually led to a corner for the visitors. Defender David Stephens fired over the bar from 20 yards after the ball from the flag was headed away by Holohan.
Lewis narrowly cleared the bar with a strike from the edge of the box on eight minutes, then a long throw from Cropper was well dealt with by the away defence as the ball was headed away from goal. Fox’s follow-up cross dropped wide of the far post.
Crocombe came off his line to deny Lewis, before Boreham Wood keeper Nathan Ashmore made a great block from Taylor seconds later as the game moved from end to end at pace.
Jacob Mendy-Mendy floated a cross straight into Crocombe’s arms from the away left on 16 minutes as Boreham Wood continued to probe.
But when the opening goal came three minutes later, it was the Mariners who took the lead as McATEE took advantage of a mistake in the away defence on the edge of their own box. The attacker took a touch before calmly slotting past the advancing Ashmore and into the net.
The hosts immediately went in search of more goals and a free kick from Amos was headed on by Pearson at the far post, although Fox could only win a corner, which was cleared.
McAtee was denied by a great challenge from Will Evans after combining well with Taylor, then another long throw from Cropper was volleyed wide by Pearson.
More good play by McAtee on 29 minutes saw him chase the ball into the corner and win another throw-in for Cropper to hurl towards the six-yard line, where Pearson headed just wide of the far post.
Cropper got back to put in a superb challenge and deny Marsh on the half-hour after the striker took advantage of a slip in defence. The ball went behind for a corner but the visitors were unable to turn the set piece into a chance in front of goal.
McAtee tried his luck from distance after a free kick for a foul on Holohan but this time, he could not get the power needed to beat Ashmore, who made a comfortable stop.
After opening the scoring, the Mariners had looked in full control and a foul on Clifton on the left brought another opportunity to get the ball into the danger zone. It was played short though and when Amos eventually crossed, Ashmore claimed a comfortable catch.
A free kick came for the away side in the last minute of the half after Holohan caught Frankie Raymond with a high boot but when Raymond played the ball into the box, the referee spotted a foul and blew for a Town free kick.
One added minute was played before the half-time whistle, with Town holding a deserved advantage at the interval.
No changes were made before the restart and an early long throw from Cropper was headed behind for a Grimsby corner. Amos’ delivery was headed clear by Raymond.
Town had the ball in the net for a second time on 52 minutes after a ball from Fox was flicked into McAtee’s path. Again, he slotted past Ashmore but this time, the offside flag went up and the celebrations were short-lived.
McAtee had another opportunity seconds later when he got on the end of a ball forward from Fox but after his touch took him slightly wide, his low shot was stopped by the keeper.
Boreham Wood made the game’s first substitution soon afterwards as Adrian Clifton replaced James Comley.
Clifton did well to beat Evans down the left on 56 minutes but was unable to pick out a team-mate with his cross, then Crocombe had to make a good save as a rare opportunity for Boreham Wood saw Boden get on the end of a low ball across the penalty area. The keeper dived to push his shot away and the resulting corner was cleared.
A foul on Taylor by Stephens gave Town a free kick on the halfway line on the hour and it turned into another one when Amos was brought down by Kane Smith on the left. Amos’ ball was hooked back across goal by Holohan and Ashmore had to tip it over the bar for a corner, which was volleyed wide by Holohan.
The visitors had a free kick on 66 minutes when McAtee fouled Marsh but it caused no problems as Raymond’s delivery was caught by Crocombe.
Raymond was replaced by Connor Smith as the away side made their second change two minutes later and a free kick from Kane Smith was then headed behind for a corner, which was eventually scrambled clear.
A Town corner at the other end was cleared after Taylor was unable to bring the ball under control, before Clifton tested Ashmore with a low drive from 25 yards which the keeper tipped around his post for another flag-kick.
Pearson saw a volley blocked after a long throw from Cropper on the right, then a header from Clifton was brilliantly saved by the keeper as the Mariners looked for a second goal which would end the game as a contest.
McAtee beat the offside trap to go through on goal again on 75 minutes but this time, he went down under a challenge and the chance was gone.
Another opportunity came for McAtee soon afterwards after he ran onto yet another through-ball, although Ashmore made a good block to keep the score at 1-0.
Danilo Orsi replaced Boden for the away side with 12 minutes to go and they won a corner soon afterwards but failed to make it count.
Another Boreham Wood corner came on 83 minutes and was cleared at the near post and Town broke, with McAtee missing the target after trying an audacious shot from 40 yards.
A low cross from Clifton two minutes later was put behind for a corner and after Amos’ ball was cleared, Fox lifted a shot over the bar from 20 yards.
Burgess replaced Taylor and Dieseruvwe came on for McAtee as Town made a double substitution with two minutes to go.
Two added minutes were played at the end of the game and the remaining time was seen out by the Mariners, who will now have at least one more game to look forward to after concluding their regular season programme with a trip to Eastleigh on Sunday.