REPORT | The Mariners 2-0 Swindon Town

Two second-half goals earned Town all three points against Swindon Town at Blundell Park and made sure of their place in Sky Bet League Two for next season.

The Mariners came into their final home game of the campaign knowing a draw or better would mathematically secure their safety and after a goalless first half of few real chances, Liam Smith put them ahead with 15 minutes to go.

Any remaining nerves around the ground were then calmed when Donovan Wilson added a spectacular second goal to seal Town’s victory and ensure the home fixture programme ended on a high.

Three changes were made to the Grimsby team following the midweek defeat at Colchester United, as Niall Maher, Harry Wood and Gavan Holohan replaced Doug Tharme, Harry Clifton and Justin Obikwu.

Jake Eastwood started in goal, with Toby Mullarkey, Maher and Harvey Rodgers forming the defence.  Smith and Charles Vernam operated as wing-backs, with Curtis Thompson behind Holohan, Kieran Green and Wood in midfield as Wilson led the attack.

The substitutes were Seb Auton, Abo Eisa, Callum Ainley, Jamie Andrews, Evan Khouri, Denver Hume and Jamie Bramwell.

Swindon travelled north looking for just their fourth away victory of the season, with interim manager and former Mariners midfielder Gavin Gunning also aiming for his side to make progress up the league table from 19th by collecting maximum points.

Wood fired over the bar with a first-time effort on the turn as Town were the first to attack, before Vernam beat Joel McGregor on the left but his cross was caught by goalkeeper Jack Bycroft.

Charlie Austin headed wide from a McGregor cross at the other end as the away side threatened for the first time, then Vernam beat McGregor again to cut into the penalty area, although his low pull-back was cleared by defender Harley Hunt.

A through-ball from Green proved just too far ahead of Wilson and Holohan, then a free kick was played low by Smith to Green but nobody in black and white was able to connect with his low cross from the right.

A good challenge by Nnamdi Ofoborh stopped Green from making progress through the middle as Town’s positive start to the game continued, before Wood aimed to volley a Holohan cross towards goal but mis-hit his shot.

Paul Glatzel failed to connect with an overhead kick at the other end, before Williams Kokola burst into the box with a pacy run from the Swindon left but nobody was in place to meet his pull-back.

Green started the home side’s next attack when he found Wood in midfield and the Hull City loanee looked for Wilson with a ball through the middle, although defender Frazer Blake-Tracey got to it first.

Thompson was brought down by Ofoborh on 32 minutes to give Town a free kick inside the away half and after Vernam played it low to Smith, his ball into the box was controlled at the far post by Green, who then saw a shot saved by Bycroft.

After the home side had controlled the early stages, Swindon were now having plenty of possession, albeit without testing Eastwood in the Grimsby goal.

Rodgers made a good block from Glatzel on the edge of the Town box, before the hosts won a free kick in a dangerous position and Verman’s strike from it took a big deflection but dropped just wide of the far post for a corner.  Vernam’s delivery from the flag was headed on by Maher but the ball was then cleared.

A foul on Udoka Godwin-Malife brought a Swindon free kick and it was worked to McGregor on the right before a shot from Austin was blocked for a throw-in.

The fourth official signalled for at least three added minutes as a further stoppage came following a clash of heads between Glatzel and Maher.  When play resumed, Green was denied by a good save by Bycroft after the midfielder got on the end of a rebound from Wilson.

That proved to be the last opportunity for either side to break the deadlock before the interval as the game remained goalless at half-time.


No changes were made before the restart and an early long throw from Maher was cleared, then another one on 51 minutes led to a free kick to the left of the Swindon box.  Vernam sent it towards the far post but Maher’s header was blocked and a follow-up shot by Wood went over the bar.

Glatzel lifted a strike over the bar for the visitors after a George McEachran cross was set back for him by Austin, then a neat build-up down the Swindon right earned them a corner.  Dawson Devoy’s delivery from the flag was cleared as far as McEachran but when he played it to Glatzel, the striker lost possession.

Vernam sent a header over the bar at the end of an encouraging move from a free kick on halfway, before Eastwood beat Devoy to the ball to stop an away counter-attack.

Kokola won a corner on the away left just after the hour but the ball from the flag was headed away at the near post by Wood.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy replaced Glatzel and Zachary Elbouzedi came on for McGregor as Swindon made a double-substitution on 64 minutes, before Wilson was caught offside when he ran onto a ball from Holohan.

A low cross from Holohan was slid behind for a corner on the Town right but Vernam’s delivery was cleared at the near post.

A strong hand from Bycroft denied Wilson after the striker let fly from inside the penalty area, before Holohan was shown the yellow card for a late challenge on Devoy.

Hume, Ainley and Andrews replaced Vernam, Wood and Holohan in a triple-change for Town on 72 minutes, with Aaron Drinan coming on in place of McEachran for Swindon at the same time.

And soon afterwards, the Mariners made the breakthrough.  Ainley looked up and played a great ball to SMITH in space on the right and he cut inside before beating Bycroft from the edge of the box.

Hunt made way for Conor McCarthy in Swindon’s latest substitution, before a Town penalty appeal was waved away when Thompson went down.

A low, 20-yard strike by Andrews went narrowly wide of the target, then a stoppage came for Eastwood to receive treatment.

Five minutes from time, the Mariners made the points – and their place in League Two for next season – safe in spectacular style.  WILSON won the ball in midfield and advanced before letting fly from 25 yards with an unstoppable strike which flew past Bycroft and into the net.

Khouri replaced Green for the closing stages of the game and after the clock ticked into at least five additional minutes, Maher made a good block from Hepburn-Murphy.

Bramwell replaced Thompson with three of the extra minutes remaining and Khouri sent a 20-yard strike over the bar soon afterwards, before Wilson fired wide after more good play by Khouri.

No further chances came before the final whistle and the home fans were then finally able to celebrate finishing the job of securing EFL football for next season, ahead of the final game of the current campaign at Crawley Town on Saturday.


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