REPORT | Harrogate Town 1-0 Grimsby Town

Grimsby Town missed an opportunity to put further distance between themselves and the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone as they were beaten by Harrogate Town.
The Mariners, backed by a sold-out, 1,000-strong away following in North Yorkshire, created the better chances in the first half and had a Justin Obikwu goal ruled out for offside five minutes before the break.
But Harrogate were much-improved after the interval and they made the crucial breakthrough on 49 minutes, with George Thomson’s strike from distance ultimately proving to be the difference between the two teams.
Three changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI following Saturday’s home victory over Newport County, with Jamie Andrews, Harry Clifton and Obikwu coming in for Kieran Green, Charles Vernam and Donovan Wilson.
Jake Eastwood started in goal, with Toby Mullarkey, Doug Tharme and Harvey Rodgers making up a three-man defence in front of him.  Liam Smith and Clifton were wing-backs as Gavan Holohan, Curtis Thompson and Andrews formed the midfield, while Obikwu lined up alongside Danny Rose in attack.
Green, Vernam and Wilson were all named on the bench, where they were joined by Seb Auton, Abo Eisa, Harry Wood and Denver Hume.
Harrogate were looking to bounce back from their 3-0 weekend defeat at Notts County, a result which saw Simon Weaver’s men drop into the bottom half of the league table.
A foul by Obikwu gave the hosts an early free kick on the halfway line and it eventually led to a throw-in level with the Town penalty area, although they were unable to create a chance from there.
Tharme’s first long throw from the right was half-cleared but Rodgers could only head through to home goalkeeper James Belshaw, then a Thompson cross was blocked for another throw, which was eventually cleared.
A late challenge on Thompson by Abraham Odoh brought a free kick just inside the Harrogate half but the Mariners were unable to threaten from it and the hosts broke through Dean Cornelius.  He found Thomson but the winger’s cross was caught by Eastwood.
Rose cut inside from he right seconds later and hit a low effort which was stopped by Belshaw, then the evening’s first corner was sent in from the home left and pushed away by Eastwood for a throw-in.
Thomson saw a volley blocked after Derrick Abu’s cross was headed down by Smith, then Holohan was denied by a good save from Belshaw after Andrews had won a loose ball in midfield.
Obikwu worked an opening for a shot on 17 minutes, although it was blocked and the offside flag then went up against Rose.
 Eastwood caught a corner from Thomson on the Harrogate left, before Town’s Thompson won a free kick on the right as the game continued to move from end to end.  Andrews’ delivery to the edge of the box was cleared.
Obikwu linked up with Clifton to create an opening on the left on 27 minutes but the wing-back’s low cross was cleared, then Clifton lifted a strike over the bar after a Tharme long throw was not dealt with.
Neither side had taken a firm grip on the game as the half-hour mark passed but Town, with a strong wind in their favour, were creating the better opportunities and they had another when Rose won a free kick on the left.  Andrews sent it towards the far post but Holohan was blocked after the ball was headed on.
The visitors won a corner on 40 minutes when a Smith free kick was headed behind and from it, they had the ball in the net through Obikwu’s far-post header.  But the celebrations were short-lived as the offside flag went up against the Coventry City loanee.
One added minute was played at the end of the first half and Eastwood was called into action to push a Levi Sutton strike away for a corner.  The flag-kick was headed behind for another one and this time, Anthony O’Connor volleyed wide at the far post.
That proved to be the last action of the half, leaving the game goalless at the break.
No changes were made before the restart and Harrogate took the lead four minutes in as THOMSON got the ball in midfield and advanced into space before finding the top corner of Eastwood’s net with a superb strike from 25 yards.
A Smith free kick was headed away as Town aimed to respond, before Smith did well to get back and win a challenge with Thomson when a great ball appeared to have sent the winger clear through the middle.
Abu looked to have an opening when he was picked out by a cross-field ball from Sutton but the right-back’s first touch let him down and the chance was gone.
Green replaced Andrews as Town made the first substitution two minutes after the hour and a teasing cross by Holohan five minutes later was cut out before it could reach Green.
Hume came on for Clifton on 68 minutes as the Mariners continued to look for an equaliser and they went close to finding one two minutes later when Holohan lifted a shot over the bar under pressure after Rose had sent the ball across the penalty area.
Harrogate’s first change saw Jack Muldoon replace Josh March with 18 minutes remaining and a Thomson strike soon afterwards was deflected through to Eastwood.
Wilson and Vernam came on for Obikwu and Holohan in the red of the Mariners, before Stephen Dooley replaced Sutton in Harrogate’s latest change.
Eastwood had to make two saves in quick succession to deny Matty Daly and Thomson as Harrogate pressed for a second goal to seal the points.
Defender Rod McDonald then got on the end of a long ball forward but could not turn his volley towards goal.
Odoh worked his way to the byline soon afterwards but nobody in yellow was in place when he pulled the ball back across the six-yard line.
Abu was shown the yellow card for a foul near the dug-outs and Town boss David Artell was also booked for his reaction.
Abu was replaced by Warren Burrell with five minutes to go, with time now starting to run out for Town as the home side continued to look the more threatening of the two.
Muldoon was pulled down by Hume to give Harrogate a free kick in a central position and from it, Thomson’s shot was tipped over the bar by Eastwood for a corner, which was headed wide by O’Connor.
A trip by Green on Odoh gave the hosts another free kick, this time on the left, but Muldoon’s free header from it sailed over the bar.
Four added minutes were played at the end of the game, with the Mariners looking for an equaliser to earn at least a point.
But it was not to come, as Harrogate saw out the remainder of the contest to confirm their victory.
Town are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to Crewe Alexandra.

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