REPORT | Mariners defeat at home

Doug Tharme’s debut goal was not enough to prevent a home defeat for Grimsby Town as Tranmere Rovers won at Blundell Park.

The Mariners fell behind when Rob Apter opened the scoring but they were level again within four minutes as Tharme struck from inside the penalty area.

The visitors reclaimed the lead seven minutes after the break through an unfortunate Toby Mullarkey own goal though and this time, Town were unable to find a reply.

Three changes were made to the Grimsby starting XI following the incredible 5-5 draw with Notts County last time out.  Tharme and Harry Wood were both handed their first starts for the club, while Kieran Green also came into the team in place of Kamil Conteh after the midfielder completed a move to Bristol Rovers.  Charles Vernam and Niall Maher were the others to come out of the line-up, although both were selected on the bench.

Harvey Cartwright started in goal, with Mullarkey, Harvey Rodgers, Tharme and Anthony Glennon forming the defence.  Green sat behind the midfield of Harry Clifton, Jamie Andrews, Wood and Abo Eisa, while Danny Rose led the attack.

Maher and Vernam were joined as substitutes by Jake Eastwood, Gavan Holohan, Justin Obikwu, Donovan Wilson and Aaron Braithwaite.

Tranmere started the day directly above the Mariners in the Sky Bet League Two table in 18th place, although Nigel Adkins’ side were five points ahead of their opponents.

Former Scunthorpe United boss Adkins would look to the likes of Kieron Morris and ex-Town attacker Connor Jennings to help ensure that gap was at least maintained.

Cartwright had to be alert to come off his line and get to the ball ahead of Jennings in the opening seconds, before Apter called the keeper into early action again with a low shot from the right, which he got down to stop.

A late challenge by Rose on Connor Wood brought the first yellow card of the afternoon on three minutes and the home fans had to wait another six minutes to see their side’s first attempt at goal, with Wood firing over the bar from distance.

A header from Rose was deflected though to away goalkeeper Luke McGee after good play by Eisa on the right, before a Tharme long throw was dealt with by the Tranmere defence.

Jennings missed the target at the end of a quick break after Green lost possession in midfield, then a free kick for a foul on Wood was headed away for a throw-in.

Eisa linked up with Andrews on the left to create a chance on 20 minutes but when the ball was pulled back, Clifton’s shot was blocked.

Goalmouth action had been in short supply for the majority of the first half-hour, with the game largely being played in midfield areas and neither defence being put under sustained pressure.

Jennings won a corner for the visitors on 30 minutes but Regan Hendry’s delivery into the penalty area was headed clear.

A foul by Green gave the away side a free kick midway inside the Town half, although they were unable to profit from it.

But Tranmere took the lead from their next attack, as APTER beat Glennon on the right and cut into the box before beating Cartwright with a neat finish into the far corner of the net.

A Glennon cross was headed away at the other end as Town looked for a reply, then Andrews was brought down to give the hosts a free kick in a dangerous position.  And from it, the home side had their equaliser as Glennon’s delivery into the box was not dealt with and THARME sent the loose ball pat McGee.

Another free kick came when Wood was brought down on the right but this time, the Hull City loanee’s cross dropped out for a goal kick after the ball had been played short to him.

Glennon started a break soon afterwards with a ball over the top for Eisa on the left but the winger was unable to pick Rose out with his cross.

The fourth official signalled for at least four added minutes at the end of the first half and a Town free kick from the right eventually turned into a corner, although the Mariners were unable to create a goalscoring opportunity from it.

No further chances came for either side before the half-time whistle, so it remained 1-1 at the break.


No changes were made before the restart and Town won an early corner on the left but Glennon’s near-post delivery was headed clear by Hendry.

Another corner followed moments later, then a ball into the box from Eisa bounced just too far ahead of Rose on its way through to McGee.

A Tranmere corner at the other end was flicked wide of the near post by Jennings as the lively opening to the second half continued, then Rodgers stepped in to win a challenge with Jennings on the edge of the box as the visitors came forward again.

The visitors went on to reclaim the advantage on 52 minutes, after Jennings took the ball forward from midfield and played it to Apter on the right.  His low cross deflected off Thame into the path of the unfortunate Mullarkey, who sent it beyond Cartwright for an own goal.

Striker Charlie Jolley was booked after a push on Cartwright, before Apter missed the target with a curling shot from the right.

The Mariners were forced into making the game’s first substitution just after the hour when Tharme went down with an injury and was unable to continue.  Maher was sent on in his place.

A Rose cross from the right was headed out for a corner before the ball could reach Eisa but Town were unable to make the most of the set piece.

Vernam replaced Wood on 66 minutes in a bid to change the game in Town’s favour and they had an opportunity when Mullarkey showed good persistence to win the ball, although when it was played back to him on the right, his cross flashed all the way across goal.

A neat build-up at the other end looked to have created an opening for the away side but nobody in their green shirts could get to Hendry’s low cross.

Clifton and Green both had shots blocked on 77 minutes as Town looked for a second equaliser, then a long throw from Mullarkey was dealt with as the pressure continued.

A chip into the box from Jennings proved just too high for Apter, before Cartwright did well to come off his line and beat Jolley to a ball over the top.

Rose went close to making it 2-2 seconds later with a shot on the turn which was tipped over the bar by McGee, then the keeper was called into action again to hold a strike from Vernam.

Reece McAlear and Kristian Dennis replaced Jolley and Apter in a double-substitution for Tranmere with seven minutes to go, as the visitors looked for a third goal to end the game as a contest.

Holohan and Obikwu followed them onto the pitch in Town’s third and fourth changes, with Green and Eisa making way, while Paul Lewis came on for Brad Walker in the colours of the away side at the same time.
Rose headed into the side-netting on 88 minutes, before Andrews had to get back and make a clearance when Morris burst into the box and pulled the ball back towards the penalty spot.

The Mariners were given at least seven additional minutes to force a positive result but they almost fell further behind when Dennis took advantage of a mistake to take the ball forward and shoot from 25 yards.  Fortunately for the hosts, the effort flew just over the bar.

Town were still pushing forward and they won a corner on the left four minutes into added time, although the referee spotted an infringement when Vernam sent the ball over from the flag and blew for a Tranmere free kick.

That proved to be Town’s last opportunity to snatch a share of the spoils as Tranmere held on to claim all three points.

The Mariners are next in action on Saturday, when they travel to Accrington Stanley.



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