Report | Mariners beat high-flying Gillingham

Grimsby Town produced an excellent team performance to beat high-flying Gillingham at Blundell Park.

The Mariners started at a high tempo and grabbed an early goal through Niall Maher’s diving header from a corner.

The visitors aimed to respond but rarely seriously threatened and after Gavan Holohan made it 2-0 three minutes before the half-hour, Town looked comfortable.

The home side then continued to dominate after half-time as they limited Gillingham to few opportunities and closed out an impressive victory.

Arthur Gnahoua replaced the injured Charles Vernam in the only change to the Grimsby XI that started last week’s Sky Bet League Two draw at Walsall.

Jake Eastwood was the goalkeeper, with Toby Mullarkey, Harvey Rodgers, Maher and Danny Amos forming the defence.  Holohan and Kamil Conteh sat behind Gnahoua, Harry Clifton and Abo Eisa in midfield, as Danny Rose led the attack.

The substitutes were Harvey Cartwright, Michee Efete, Luke Waterfall, Rekeil Pyke, Jamie Andrews, Alex Hunt and Evan Khouri.

Gillingham made the journey north looking to bounce back after a narrow Carabao Cup defeat at Premier League Luton Town in midweek, which followed their first league loss of the season at home to Colchester last week.

Prior to that, the Gills had won their first four games in the league and manager Neil Harris would look to the likes of strikers Ashley Nadesan and Tom Nichols to fire them to another victory.

Town were straight on the attack and they won the first corner inside 20 seconds when a Clifton cross from the left was headed behind.  It led to another one, this time on the right, but Gnahoua’s delivery was headed clear by Shaun Williams.

Gillingham won a corner of their own on three minutes but Conor Mahoney’s ball into the box was turned wide by Nadesan after it had been headed across goal.

Neither goalkeeper had been tested as the 10-minute mark passed but the Mariners took the lead from their next attack.  Amos won a corner on the left and Gnahoua’s ball was met by MAHER, whose diving header flew across goal and into the net at the far post.

A long throw from Shadrach Ogie caused problems at the other end as the away side looked to hit back, although the danger was eventually cleared.

Eisa cut in from the left and won another corner on 18 minutes after he had been found by a great pass from Clifton.  This time, the ball from the flag was headed away as far as Clifton and his first-time strike from 25 yards flew over the bar.

Nichols had an opportunity to level the scores moments later after an away attack down the left but when Scott Malone played an excellent ball into the striker’s path, he could only divert it wide.

The visitors had another opportunity to get the ball into the Town penalty area when Nadesan was brought down by Rodgers on the right on 23 minutes.  Connor Mahoney sent the free kick to the near post but the ball was claimed by Eastwood.

Maher did well to stop Nichols after Nadesan had chased the ball down on the right and squared for his strike partner inside the box as the away side kept looking for a response.

But when the second goal came on 27 minutes, it was the Mariners who doubled their advantage.  Rose won the ball on the right and a neat build-up led to it being worked into the box, where Eisa found HOLOHAN and he sent a calm, side-footed finish past keeper Jake Turner and into the bottom corner.

Clifton worked an opening on the edge of the box but was unable to get a shot away, then a through-ball from Conteh looked to have slightly too much pace on it as the hosts kept looking to add to their lead.

A strike by Eisa was deflected wide for a corner on the left after good play by Clifton and the ball from the flag led to Mullarkey missing the target with a half-volley after Rodgers had won the initial header.

Gillingham had struggled to pose a threat since going 2-0 down and a chip by Mahoney failed to call Eastwood into action as it drifted past the far post for a goal kick.

Rodgers had to concede a corner to cut out a low cross from the away left but the danger from it was dealt with by the Town defence.

The visitors were forced into making the first substitution two minutes before the break as Nichols went down with an injury.  He was replaced by Macauley Bonne.

Four added minutes were played at the end of the first half and after neither side created any further chances before the referee’s half-time whistle, the Mariners remained in control at the interval.




Chaye Alexander and Conor Masterson replaced Williams and Ogie as the visitors made a double-substitution before the restart.

Town started on the front foot though and they created the first chance of the second half.  Gnahoua got the ball on the right and cut inside before finding Clifton, whose low shot was tipped away for a corner by Turner.

Defender Max Ehmer was spoken to by the referee after bringing Eisa down inside the Grimsby half and another free kick followed soon afterwards, this time in an attacking position on the right.  Gnahoua’s ball to the far post was just too far ahead of Mullarkey.

Masterson made a vital interception from a low cross by Clifton on the left as Town continued to look the more dangerous, with Gillingham still struggling to create openings as the hour mark passed.

A header from Timothee Diang was comfortably caught by Eastwood after a free kick was worked into the box from the away right, then Eisa let fly with a strike from distance which went high over the bar at the Pontoon Stand end.

Gnahoua did well to beat Nadesan to a header and ensure the only damage was a Gillingham corner on 65 minutes.  Rose was first to the ball from the flag to head clear.

Jonny Williams replaced Jayden Clarke in the visitors’ fourth change with 20 minutes to go but Town were still on top and Turner was called into action to push away a stinging drive from Eisa.

Rose looped a header over the bar, before a good block from Rodgers stopped a shot from Mahoney at the other end.

Rogers was first to a corner from the away left to head clear, before Eastwood dived to keep a header from Malone out after a quick break down the Gillingham right.

Pyke replaced Gnahoua and Andrews came on for Holohan as Town boss Paul Hurst made his first two changes on 89 minutes.

The fourth official signalled for a minimum of three added minutes and Amos was shown the first yellow card of the game for a late challenge.

The Mariners saw out the remainder of the game to claim a clean sheet to go with their three points as a deserved reward for what was a dominant performance.

Town are next in action on Tuesday, when they travel to Barnsley for their second EFL Trophy group match.



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