REPORT | Mariners end 2023 with first away win of the campaign

Grimsby Town’s wait for a first away win of the season came to an end with a comfortable victory over Salford City.

The Mariners dominated their final game of 2023 and went in a goal up at half-time after Harry Clifton opened the scoring.

Town continued to create chances after the break and got their reward when Toby Mullarkey’s first goal for the club made it 2-0, before Danny Rose sealed the points with a third goal.

And an excellent defensive display at the other end restricted managerless Salford to few genuine opportunities as Harvey Cartwright earned his first clean sheet.

Five changes were made to the Grimsby line-up following the Boxing Day defeat at Mansfield Town, with Mullarkey, Luke Waterfall, Jamie Andrews, Gavan Holohan and Abo Eisa coming in for Michee Efete, Harvey Rodgers, Kamil Conteh, Arthur Gnahoua and Rekeil Pyke.

Cartwright started in goal, with Mullarkey, Waterfall, Niall Maher and Anthony Glennon forming the defence. Kieran Green and Andrews sat behind Clifton, Holohan and Eisa in midfield and Rose was the striker.

Rodgers and Conteh were selected on the bench, where there was also a welcome return to the matchday squad for Charles Vernam alongside Jake Eastwood, Otis Khan, Aaron Braithwaite and Cameron Gardner.

Simon Wiles took charge of Salford after they parted company with head coach Neil Wood following the 5-1 home loss to Tranmere on Boxing Day. That defeat extended the Ammies’ winless run in the league to nine games and left them 21st in the table – one point and two places behind the Mariners.

The hosts did, however, have the goalscoring firepower of Matt Smith in their team and he would be aiming to add to his tally of 15 so far this campaign.

Salford were first to threaten, as midfielder Matthew Lund grazed the top of the crossbar with a strike from 25 yards inside the opening minute.

Clifton beat the offside trap to run onto a ball over the top in Town’s first attack of note, although he was blocked after making his way into the penalty area and a follow-up attempt by Mullarkey from distance flew off-target.

Eisa cut in from the left and won a corner on nine minutes when his low shot was blocked and Glennon’s delivery from the flag was put behind for another one. This time, Ryan Watson got to the ball ahead of Waterfall and headed clear.

Another opportunity was to come for the Mariners moments later, with Glennon crossing from the left for Waterfall at the far post, although the centre-back’s header missed the target.

Luke Garbutt escaped an early booking when he brought Clifton down just inside the Salford half and the free kick led to Waterfall heading down for Maher, whose shot went just wide.

A good block inside the box denied Clifton after a neat attacking move on 16 minutes and the home side broke through Luke Bolton but Glennon got back to challenge and turn the ball away for a throw-in.

Town had started the game well and they were inches away from taking the lead after a great turn by Eisa saw him run into the box on the left. He looked up and played a low ball across the six-yard line but Rose’s near-post flick was deflected onto the bar by home goalkeeper Alex Cairns.

Rose won another corner on the half-hour but when Glennon’s delivery from the left fell for Maher, he could only lift it over the bar.

A Salford corner from Elliot Watt on the right was headed behind for another one but this time, it was comfortably cleared by Maher at the near post.

The Mariners were still the better of the two teams and they broke the deadlock six minutes before the break to take a deserved lead. Andrews won a loose ball and played it to Eisa on the left and when his low cross picked out CLIFTON, the midfielder turned and beat Cairns from close range.

Clifton went close to doubling the visitors’ advantage on 43 minutes when he met a Glennon cross from the left but this time, he could only watch as his header dropped just wide.

Eisa tried his luck with a curling effort from 25 yards as the half moved into a minimum of three added minutes but the shot was caught by Cairns.

A Bolton cross from the home right was dealt with, before a vital interception at the other end stopped Eisa from having a shooting chance inside the box.

No more opportunities came for either side before the interval, so the Mariners went into the dressing rooms with the lead as a reward for an excellent first-half display.


No changes were made before the restart and Declan John was caught offside as the home side launched the first attack of the second half.

Glennon did well to block a cross from Bolton for a corner and the ball from the flag was cleared but Salford kept possession and after it was sent back into the box, Cartwright produced a great save to keep Watson out from close range.

A foul on Glennon brought a free kick on the Town left and after it was headed away, the ball fell for Holohan to volley from 20 yards but a deflection took his shot wide for a corner, which did not lead to a chance in front of goal.

Salford had a good opportunity to equalise when Bolton got past Glennon on the right and pulled the ball back for Lund at the near post, although the midfielder could not bring it under control.

Eisa won a corner in front of the travelling Town fans on the hour and it eventually led to another one but Glennon’s delivery was headed clear at the near post.

The Mariners kept the pressure up and they had another corner when a low cross was cut out by Curtis Tilt. The ball from the flag was not dealt with and Mullarkey found the space to turn brilliantly on the edge of the box and launch a drive that Cairns had to tip away for a corner.

A strike by Green was deflected away for another corner and Andrews narrowly missed the target soon afterwards as the visitors continued to dominate, pushing forward in search of a second goal.

A foul on Mullarkey brought a free kick on the right on 67 minutes but Glennon’s ball into the box went through to keeper Cairns.

Junior Luamba replaced Bolton as the hosts made the first substitution of the game but Town were still in control and a Clifton cross from the right was met by Rose, although his header was cleared.

The Mariners were not to be denied for much longer though and they grabbed a second goal with 70 minutes on the clock when MULLARKEY made his way into the box from the right and sent a low shot beyond Cairns and into the far corner of the net.

Connor McLennan came on for John in Salford’s second change, before Conteh replaced Green in the Town midfield.

A fierce drive from Lund was blocked by Holohan as the hosts looked for a way back into the contest, then Town’s second change saw Khan come on for Eisa.

Cartwright got down to stop a low shot from Luamba but the visitors wrapped up the points on 84 minutes when ROSE curled a superb shot past Cairns and into the top corner of the net from 20 yards to make it 3-0.

Gardner and Braithwaite came on for Rose and Andrews as the clock ticked down, with the fourth official then indicating there would be at least five additional minutes.

Liam Humbles and Sandro Da Costa were sent on for the home side for the closing stages as Watson and Lund made way and Da Costa poked a shot wide with seconds remaining to ensure the Mariners would be able to celebrate a clean sheet to go with a thoroughly deserved three points.

Town are next in action on New Year’s Day, when Walsall will be the visitors to Blundell Park.



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