REPORT | Mariners wrap up season with victory over Wimbledon

Grimsby Town beat AFC Wimbledon in their last game of the season to seal a first top-half finish in Sky Bet League Two since 2006.

An early own-goal from Isaac Ogundere proved to be the difference between the two sides, with the Dons defender deflecting a pull-back from Danilo Orsi into the net.

The Mariners controlled the game for long periods but their visitors also created chances to claim a share of the spoils, with keeper Max Crocombe keeping out a 25-yard strike from Josh Davison early in the second half.

Town held on comfortably though, with the three points ensuring an excellent first campaign back in the league ended on a high.

Shaun Pearson was handed a start and the captain’s armband on his final appearance as a Grimsby player before moving into a new role at the club.  His inclusion was one of five changes to the team that began the defeat at Stevenage last time out, with Josh Emmanuel, Alex Hunt, Evan Khouri and Orsi also coming in as Luke Waterfall, Michee Efete, Gavan Holohan, Kieran Green and Ryan Taylor dropped out.

Crocombe completed an ever-present season in goal, with Andy Smith, Pearson and Niall Maher forming the back three.  Emmanuel and Glennon were the wing-backs, with newly-crowned Player of the Year Harry Clifton alongside Hunt and Young Player of the Year Khouri in midfield as George Lloyd and Orsi led the attack.

Efete, Green, Waterfall, Holohan and Taylor were all named on the bench, along with Otis Khan and Mikey O’Neill.

Wimbledon made the journey from south London looking to end what has been a disappointing season for them with a win.  Their team included former Mariners loanee Diallang Jaiyesimi, while Wales international Chris Gunter was among the substitutes for Johnnie Jackson’s Dons.


After a quiet opening to the game, Lloyd was penalised for a foul to the left of the Wimbledon penalty area as he cut inside in an attempt to create the first opening.

A Glennon cross was caught by visiting keeper Nathan Broome but the next time the hosts went forward, they took the lead.  Orsi beat the offside trap to run onto a ball down the left and after he got to the by-line and pulled it back, a deflection off Ogundere took it past Broome and into the net, off the far post, for an own-goal.

Orsi almost took advantage of a mistake in the Wimbledon defence as Town immediately went in search of a second goal but this time, Broome managed to dive on the ball at the second attempt.

At the other end, a Samuel Pearson cross was headed behind for the first corner of the afternoon but Ethan Chislett’s delivery from the flag was headed clear.

Emmanuel was caught offside as he ran onto a pass from Clifton as the Mariners built another attack on 14 minutes, then a late challenge on Clifton by left-back Jack Currie gave Town a free kick on the halfway line, which was cleared.

A great pass from Smith through the middle found Khouri, although the midfielder was unable to work an opening for a shot and Ogundere stepped in to get the ball away from danger.

Lloyd did well to win a corner soon afterwards but the home side could not create a chance in front of goal from it as the ball was played short by Hunt to Glennon and then sent into the box by Clifton.

A stoppage came for Hunt to receive treatment after going down, with Lloyd already off the pitch after getting a cut to his head.  Both were passed fit to continue, with the striker coming back on wearing a bandage and a replacement shirt.

Khouri fell awkwardly after getting a push from Kasey McAteer in mid-air, leading to a further stoppage.  At the same time, Clifton appeared to have picked up an injury and he was replaced by Holohan as Town were forced into the first substitution on 26 minutes.

Orsi saw a shot blocked after Lloyd had blocked an attempted clearance as the home side remained in control at the half-hour mark, with Wimbledon yet to threaten Crocombe’s goal.

Striker Davison beat two players to cut into the box from the away right on 34 minutes but after losing possession, he stretched and caught Hunt with a late challenge which resulted in the first yellow card of the game.

Glennon followed Davison into the referee’s notebook as he was shown the yellow card for a foul on Ogundere.  McAteer’s free kick from the right was missed by Emmanuel but the ball was then put behind for a corner, which was caught by Crocombe.

Glennon won a Town corner on 40 minutes when his cross from the left was blocked, although the ball from the flag was cleared by Davison.

Ogundere became the latest to be booked after a foul on Khouri but the resulting free kick was cleared after the ball had been met by Pearson at the far post, then a Wimbledon attack came to an end when the offside flag was raised.

Four added minutes were played at the end of the first half and Wimbledon had an opportunity to create danger when they won a corner on the right.  After it was played short, McAteer set off on a run into the box but he was stopped, at the expense of another flag-kick.  This time, Jaiyesimi’s cross was headed away.

The visitors were finishing the half strongly and a free kick inside the Grimsby half allowed them to keep the pressure up, although the Dons’ Pearson ran the ball out for a goal kick.

That proved to be the last action of the first half, with the Mariners retaining their single-goal advantage at the break.


No further changes were made by either side before the restart and Town won a corner on the left within seconds but Aaron Pierre won a duel with Pearson to bring the ball clear from it.

Two minutes in, experienced defender Gunter, who went to the World Cup with Wales in November, came on to replace Ogundere in Wimbledon’s first substitution.

Crocombe was called into serious action for the first time soon afterwards as he dived to push a 25-yard effort from Davison away for a corner.

Another corner came after a nice flick by Jaiyesimi set up an attack but Pearson was first to the ball from the flag to head clear.

Emmanuel stepped in to win the ball on the edge of the Town penalty area ahead of Davison, then a good block by Smith stopped another attack as the away side continued what had been a promising opening to the second half for them.

Davison fired wide from 20 yards after a mistake by Glennon saw him lose possession, then Town had a spell with the ball which led to Hunt sending a low shot wide from outside the box.

A Wimbledon corner two minutes after the hour was eventually dealt with, then Alfie Bendle came on in place of Jaiyesimi in the away side’s latest change.

Town made a substitution of their own on 66 minutes, with Pearson receiving a standing ovation from all corners of the ground as he made his way off the Blundell Park pitch for the final time, to be replaced by Khan.

Lloyd and Khouri both saw shots blocked in quick succession after Glennon pulled the ball back from the left as Town went in search of a second goal to seal the points.

Emmanuel, Lloyd and Khouri were replaced by O’Neill, Green and Efete, then Khan had Town’s next chance but saw his low attempt saved by keeper Broome, who also got to the rebound from Holohan.

Alex Woodyard was replaced by Morgan Williams and Quaine Bartley came on for Davison as Wimbledon made a double-substitution with three minutes to go.

Four added minutes were played at the end of the game and Gunter was booked for a foul on Holohan near the halfway line.

No further chances were created by either side, so Town were able to see the remainder of the contest out and ensure their season finished with a victory.



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