Match Report – Notts County 1 – 2 Grimsby Town

An added-time winner gave Grimsby Town a thoroughly deserved three points as they came from behind to beat Notts County at Meadow Lane.

The hosts looked the more dangerous in the early stages of the game amid an electric atmosphere and they got themselves ahead through a solo effort by Cal Roberts.

But the Mariners had chances of their own and could have been back level when they were given a penalty, although Ryan Taylor’s kick was well-saved by home keeper Vitezslav Jaros.

Notts missed opportunities to add to their lead in the first half but after the break, it was one-way traffic as Town went on the comeback trail, with their relentless attacking efforts eventually paying off when Taylor made it 1-1 with 14 minutes to go.

And to the delight of the 2,454 travelling fans, their side capped an excellent performance with a winning goal as a Danny Amos free kick was headed across goal and into the net by Luke Waterfall.

Town boss Paul Hurst named an unchanged matchday squad following the home victory over Wealdstone last time out.

That meant goalkeeper Max Crocombe was protected by a defence of Michee Efete, Shaun Pearson, Waterfall and Amos, while Erico Sousa, Giles Coke, Arjan Raikhy and Harry Clifton made up the midfield as John McAtee supported Taylor in attack.

Ben Fox, Tristan Abrahams, Max Wright, Andy Smith and Scott Burgess were again selected as the substitutes.

Notts were looking to get back to winning ways after a defeat at Bromley and a goalless draw at Wealdstone in their last two games, although their last home match in the National League had produced a 3-1 victory over Wrexham.

Head coach Ian Burchnall would look to the likes of former Scunthorpe striker Kyle Wootton for firepower and another to watch would be Ruben Rodrigues, whose late winner proved the difference when the two teams met at Blundell Park earlier in the season.

Town made a positive start, winning a corner on the right in the first minute, which led to Pearson heading wide.

A cross from left-back Joel Taylor was comfortably claimed by Crocombe at the other end, before the hosts almost took the lead when Wootton got to a ball across the six-yard line after Town failed to clear their lines from another attack.  The striker was stretching as he connected though and Crocombe was able to get a hand to the ball and tip it onto the post before it was cleared to safety.

Clifton won a corner on the left on 11 minutes but Waterfall was unable to fully connect with a volley after Raikhy picked him out from the flag.

A foul by Clifton gave the hosts a free kick inside the Town half two minutes later but after it was played short, nobody could get to Jayden Richardson’s teasing ball across the penalty area.

Soon afterwards, the deadlock was broken and it was the home side who took the advantage with an excellent solo goal.  ROBERTS took the ball forward on a 30-yard run and after making his way into the box, he drilled a low shot beyond Crocombe and into the bottom corner of the net.

The Mariners looked to hit back straight away but a cross from Sousa was claimed by Notts keeper Jaros before Clifton could get to it.

Notts were on top though and they created another opportunity when Taylor was found in space on the left, although nobody could get on the end of his cross.

A foul on Clifton by right-back Richard Brindley gave Town a free kick on the left but Raikhy’s delivery was comfortably caught by Jaros.

The Mariners were then given an opportunity to get themselves level when McAtee went down on the edge of the box after a collision with Kyle Cameron.  The referee ruled the contact was inside the penalty area and pointed to the spot, despite strong protests from the home players and supporters.  The golden chance to equalise was not taken though, as Taylor’s penalty was brilliantly kept out by Jaros, who dived to his left to push the ball clear.

At the other end, the hosts kept up their pressure and Rodrigues narrowly failed to connect with a header from Roberts’ right-wing cross.

A foul on Efete earned Rodrigues the first yellow card of the game but the resulting free kick did not lead to a chance in front of goal, then Roberts curled narrowly wide of the far post as another good opportunity came and went for Notts.

The yellow card was brandished again on 32 minutes as Zak Brunt was booked for a foul near the halfway line, before a shot by Efete was blocked after he cut inside from the right.

A great chance for a Town equaliser came on 36 minutes, when McAtee found Taylor inside the box.  The striker controlled the ball but could not keep his shot down, instead clearing the bar from 10 yards.

Brunt fired over the bar from 20 yards after the Mariners failed to fully deal with a cross from the right, before a superb block by Alex Lacey denied McAtee as he pulled the trigger after breaking into the box.  Raikhy’s corner was headed clear but Town retained possession until Clifton shot wide.

Clifton went closer soon afterwards when he hit the post with a drive from 15 yards as the visitors started to show more signs of coming back into the game with half-time looming.

Town were ending the half strongly and they were given an additional two minutes to find a way onto the scoreboard before the break.

A foul on the right brought a free kick but the ball from it ended in Jaros’ hands after it had been headed on by Waterfall.

That meant Notts’ one-goal advantage remained intact at the interval after a half with plenty of chances for both sides.

Fox replaced Coke in the Grimsby midfield before the restart and the visitors were the first to attack as a low McAtee cross from the right was cut out, before a shot by Sousa three minutes in was blocked and the follow-up from McAtee bounced wide.

Town won a corner on the left on 49 minutes but they were unable to create a chance in front of goal from it.

Fox went close with a 25-yard drive which was deflected out for a corner as the Mariners continued to pile the pressure on but Raikhy’s ball from the flag was pushed away by Jaros before the clearance was completed.

Clifton went into the book for a foul which stopped a home break down their right, then a Town free kick from a similar position was headed clear before Pearson was penalised for a handball when the ball was sent back into the box.

McAtee fired wide of the near post on 55 minutes after the referee played a good advantage following a foul on Sousa.

Notts had shown very little in attack since the break and it took until 12 minutes into the half for the Mariners to have any defending of note to do, with Pearson heading clear after a cross from Taylor.

Frank Vincent replaced Brunt for the hosts after McAtee had missed the target at the near post with a shot on 63 minutes.

Another Town corner came soon afterwards but the ball from the flag was headed clear.

Elisha Sam replaced Rodrigues for Notts on 68 minutes with the away side still on top as they searched for an equaliser.

Taylor was unable to connect with a driven cross from Sousa, before Wright was sent on in place of Fox, who may still have been feeling the effects of a clash of heads earlier in the half.

Town had done all of the attacking in the second half and with 14 minutes of the game to go they finally got their reward with an equalising goal.  McAtee got down the right and sent a low ball across and after it was not dealt with, TAYLOR turned and fired past Jaros.

The goal woke the hosts up and they won a corner at the other end after a header was blocked, with left-back Taylor heading wide.

A foul by Wright gave Notts a free kick in a dangerous position with seven minutes to go but Crocombe got to the ball from it first and Town survived.

The home side’s Taylor was booked for a foul on Crocombe before being replaced by Adam Chicksen for the closing stages.

Notts were now doing most of the attacking, with Town forced to defend in a bid to secure something from the game.

A home corner turned into another one, then a third as Crocombe worked to keep them at bay.

Town then turned to Abrahams as he replaced McAtee in their final substitution with two minutes to go.

Town were given a free kick in a dangerous position when Abrahams was brought down as the game moved into six added minutes.  And from it, they found their winner as Amos’ delivery was headed back across goal by WATERFALL and the ball found its way into the net, sparking wild scenes in the away stand.

As Town looked to run the clock down, Notts had one final chance to salvage a draw with a corner on the left but it was not taken as Town held firm to secure a massive three points and what may prove to be a turning point in their season.

The Mariners are next in action on Tuesday, when Kings Lynn Town are the visitors to Blundell Park.

P