REPORT | Mariners defeat in Barrow.

Grimsby Town opened their Easter programme of fixtures with an away defeat at promotion-chasing Barrow.

The Mariners started brightly in Cumbria but Cole Stockton’s first-half brace put the home side in control of the Good Friday clash.

Robbie Gotts made sure the points would be staying in the north-west when he added a third goal with eight minutes to go, before Justin Obikwu grabbed a late consolation for Town.

Two changes were made to the Grimsby team that began the home defeat by Wrexham last time out, with Harry Wood and Arthur Gnahoua replacing Gavan Holohan and Donovan Wilson.

Harvey Cartwright started in goal, with Toby Mullarkey, Doug Tharme and Harvey Rodgers forming the back three as Harry Clifton and Denver Hume provided extra defensive cover in the wing-back positions. Wood slotted into the midfield alongside Curtis Thompson and Kieran Green, while Gnahoua supported Justin Obikwu in attack.

Danny Rose made a return to the matchday squad from injury as he was named on the bench, alongside Jamie Andrews, Jake Eastwood, Holohan, Wilson, Liam Smith and Charles Vernam.

Town were looking to start a new unbeaten run after their previous sequence of six games without defeat came to an end with last week’s loss but they faced a tough task against another Sky Bet League Two promotion contender in the shape of Pete Wild’s Barrow.

The Bluebirds were sixth in the table at kick-off and aimed to close the six-point gap between themselves and the top three with a victory.

Green won the game’s first corner in the opening minute but the ball from it was cleared, then a Dean Campbell cross at the other end gave Barrow their first corner, which was headed back to Cartwright by Green.

Obikwu was off-target with a shot from distance on six minutes as Town looked to continue a positive start to the game, then Cartwright was equal to a powerful shot by Ben Whitfield at the other end.

The deadlock was broken on 11 minutes and it was Barrow who took the lead.  A low cross from the left came off Rodgers and when the ball was played back in by Whitfield to the unmarked STOCKTON, he slotted it past Cartwright.

A foul on Obikwu gave the Mariners a free kick on the right as they looked to respond to falling behind but Wood’s 20-yard strike was blocked after Hume played the ball low to the midfielder.

Dom Telford fired wide from the home side’s next chance, before Cartwright got down well to stop a Stockton header from a cross by Tyrell Warren on the right.

The hosts doubled their advantage on 22 minutes, after Thompson lost possession to Telford in midfield.  He advanced into the box and saw a shot blocked by a combination of Cartwright and Mullarkey but STOCKTON was in the right place to tap the rebound into the net.

A Tharme throw was cleared as far as Hume on the edge of the penalty area and he found Mullarkey but the defender’s shot was blocked and cleared.

Town were forced into an early change when Gnahoua went down with an injury just before the half-hour and was unable to continue.  Wilson was sent on in his place.

A foul on Obikwu brought a free kick on the away right but Hume’s delivery into the box was cleared after the ball had been headed down.

Whitfield sent a low shot wide after play was allowed to go on following a foul by Thompson, then a deep cross by George Ray was headed away as Barrow continued to threaten.

Kian Spence missed the target from distance on 40 minutes, before Thompson did well to win a challenge with Spence in midfield and stop a home break.

Good defending by Tharme stopped another dangerous attack after Warren got past Hume and pulled the ball back across goal.

Hume and Campbell were spoken to by the referee after the award of a Town free kick as the half moved into three minutes of added time, although the visitors were unable to make the set piece count.

A deflected, 25-yard shot by Wood went through to Barrow goalkeeper Paul Farman in what was the last action before the break, with the hosts retaining their two-goal lead at the halfway point.


No further changes were made by either side before the restart and an early foul by Wilson gave Barrow a free kick on their right.  Whitfield’s ball into the box from it was headed wide by Stockton.

Wood won a corner at the other end and although it was cleared, Town kept possession until the ball ricocheted off Obikwu for a goal kick.

Tharme had to concede a corner when Whitfield pulled the ball back across the six-yard line from the left but the flag-kick was claimed by Cartwright.

James Chester beat Wood to a Rodgers cross from the Town left but Tharme could only head wide from the resulting corner, then a flag-kick at the other end caused no problems.

Warren was warned by the referee after bringing Wilson down in front of the 437 travelling Mariners fans, although the visitors were unable to profit from the free kick.

Mullarkey put the ball behind for a corner on 63 minutes after Barrow broke through Whitfield on the left but the referee spotted an infringement when it came across from the flag and blew for a Town free kick.

Andrews replaced Thompson in the Grimsby midfield five minutes later and soon afterwards, Rodgers linked up with Hume on the left and the wing-back’s cross was deflected behind for a corner, which eventually led to Clifton sending a volley wide on the turn from 20 yards.

Telford was booked for a late sliding challenge on Rodgers, before a triple-substitution for the home side saw David Worrall, Sam Foley and Emile Acquah replace Warren, Campbell and Stockton.  Green hit the post with a header after the free kick fell for Mullarkey to send the ball back into the box.

Rose and Vernam came on for Hume and Wood with 16 minutes to go, before Green lifted a free kick over the bar from 25 yards.

A cross-shot from Whitfield dipped over Cartwright but bounced off the top of his bar for a goal kick, then the hosts made a further two substitutions as Jamie Proctor and Elliot Newby replaced Telford and Whitfield.

Barrow made sure of the points on 82 minutes, when they scored a third goal.  A free kick from the left was punched by Cartwright into the path of GOTTS, who found the net from 15 yards.

Green was replaced by Holohan after he collided with Cartwright in the lead-up to the goal, before the keeper was called into action again to push a fierce strike by Foley away following a free kick.

Vernam won a corner on 89 minutes when his low cross was turned behind and after the ball from it was not cleared, Town pulled a goal back when OBIKWU turned and fired past Farman.

Five added minutes were played at the end of the game and Grimsby went forward in search of a second goal but they were unable to find it as Barrow closed out the remainder of the contest to collect maximum points.

The Mariners will now aim to bounce back quickly when they host Bradford City at Blundell Park on Easter Monday.



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