REPORT | Eisa double seals first win of the season

Grimsby Town earned their first victory of the season as they beat Salford City at Blundell Park.

Abo Eisa struck either side of half-time to secure all three points from a game in which the Mariners were the better team.

Salford were limited to few opportunities throughout the contest and were reduced to 10 men just after the break when Ossama Ashley was dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Three changes were made to the Town line-up following the narrow defeat at Notts County on Saturday, with Danny Amos, Gavan Holohan and Arthur Gnahoua coming in for Anthony Glennon, Alex Hunt and Charles Vernam.

Jake Eastwood started in goal, with Toby Mullarkey, Harvey Rodgers, Luke Waterfall and Amos forming the defence.  Holohan and Kamil Conteh sat behind Gnahoua, Harry Clifton and Eisa in midfield, with Danny Rose leading the attack.

Vernam and Hunt were both named on the bench, where they were joined by Harvey Cartwright, Michee Efete, Kieran Green, Rekeil Pyke and Evan Khouri.

Salford were looking to continue their unbeaten start to the Sky Bet League Two campaign, having won one and drawn one of their games so far.

Striker Matt Smith scored a hat-trick when the teams met in Cleethorpes last season and he would again aim to provide the main threat for Neil Wood’s side.

The visitors won the first corner inside the opening minute and it eventually led to another one on the opposite, right flank.  This time, Eastwood got to the ball from the flag first.

Rodgers saw a long-range attempt blocked on nine minutes, before an Amos cross from the left proved to be just behind the run of Rose.

Clifton and Salford’s Ryan Watson were both spoken to by the referee following a foul midway inside the Town half, then the away free kick was cleared by Rodgers.

Neither side had taken a firm grip on the game as the 20-minute mark approached, with Eisa firing over the bar from distance.

But the home side seized the initiative soon afterwards as EISA again let fly from 25 yards and this time, his low strike took a deflection and flew past goalkeeper Alex Cairns to open the scoring.

A free kick for a high boot gave the Mariners another opportunity to get the ball into the danger zone but the delivery from it bounced out at the far post for a goal kick.

Salford won a corner as they looked to hit back at the other end and it was nodded behind for another one on the left.  This time, Eastwood came off his line to punch away from danger.

A looping header from Smith was caught by Eastwood after the striker got on the end of a free kick, then a foul on Clifton gave Town a free kick of their own, in a dangerous position to the left of centre.  Amos’ chip towards the far post was headed clear by Liam Shephard.

Ashley was shown the first yellow card of the game on 32 minutes for a late challenge on Gnahoua but Waterfall could only head wide from a narrow angle when the resulting free kick was sent to the far post.

Luke Bolton won a corner on the away right on 38 minutes and it led to Amos making a brilliant block to stop a powerful strike from Curtis Tilt.

Salford went closer to an equaliser four minutes before the break when Conor McAleny ran onto a through-ball and made his way to the edge of the box but Eastwood got a touch to his low strike to take the ball past the far post for a corner.

Rose earned a free kick at the other end soon afterwards, although Amos’ delivery from the left failed to find a team-mate.

The fourth official signalled a minimum of three added minutes with Town on the attack and Conteh sent a low shot wide after a run through the middle.

That proved to be the last chance of the first half for either side and as a result, the Mariners went into the dressing rooms at the interval with the lead.


No changes were made before the restart and Salford were reduced to 10 men three minutes in when Ashley was shown a second yellow card after bringing Mullarkey down midway inside the away half.

Stephen Mallan and Callum Hendry replaced Watson and Adrian Mariappa in a double-substitution for the visitors on 55 minutes, then a free kick from Gnahoua on the right was headed off-target for a goal kick.

A looping header from Rose proved comfortable for keeper Cairns just after the hour, before Eastwood was called into action at the other end to push a cross from Mallan away from the path of Shephard.

The second goal came on 66 minutes and it was the Mariners who doubled their advantage.  A loose ball inside the box fell for EISA and he steered a low shot past Cairns and into the far corner of the net for his second of the evening.

Matthew Lund replaced Connor McLennan after the goal and the substitute became the latest to see the referee’s yellow card after a foul on Clifton.

Mallan followed him into the referee’s notebook for a trip on Gnahoua, then Eisa showed good skill to burst into the box from the right but nobody in black and white was able to turn the ball towards goal after it hit a Salford defender.

Waterfall stepped in to stop McAleny as the visitors launched a rare attack, before Vernam replaced Gnahoua in Town’s first substitution with seven minutes to go.

Vernam’s first involvement of note saw him win a corner with a deflected strike from the edge of the box, before more changes came for the hosts as Mullarkey, Rose and Conteh made way for Efete, Pyke and Green.

Mallan had an opportunity to pull a goal back with a free kick in a central position, 25 yards out, but his strike was brilliantly kept out by Eastwood, who dived to his left to claw the ball away for a corner and preserve his clean sheet.

Seven added minutes were played at the end of the game and Theo Vassell was the latest to be booked following a foul on the Town left.

Eisa walked off the pitch to a standing ovation as he made way for Khouri with two minutes of the added time remaining.

And the Mariners saw the rest of the contest out to confirm a welcome first win of the season.

Town are next in action on Saturday, when they host Mansfield Town at Blundell Park.



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