REPORT | Town fall to defeat against Swindon Town

Grimsby Town were beaten despite a late fightback against Swindon Town at the County Ground.

The Mariners fell behind when Dan Kemp’s first-half strike opened the scoring for the high-flying hosts and although the visitors created chances to level the scores, they were dealt a further blow when Jake Cain made it 2-0 just after the hour.

That proved the catalyst for changes as Town boss Paul Hurst looked to his bench and within seconds of coming on, substitute Donovan Wilson registered his first goal for the club to halve the deficit.

The away side pushed forward in search of an equaliser but their pressure proved in vain as Swindon held on to claim the three points.

Grimsby manager Paul Hurst made five changes to his team following the home defeat by Crawley last time out.  Luke Waterfall, Alex Hunt, Jamie Andrews, Arthur Gnahoua and the fit-again Danny Rose all came in as Kamil Conteh missed out through suspension and Anthony Glennon, Gavan Holohan, Otis Khan and Rekeil Pyke all moved to the bench.

Jake Eastwood started in goal, with Toby Mullarkey, Harvey Rodgers, Waterfall and Michee Efete forming the defence.  Hunt and Andrews joined Gnahoua, Harry Clifton and Abo Eisa in a new-look midfield, with Rose leading the attack.

Glennon, Holohan, Khan and Pyke were joined as substitutes by Danny Amos, Harvey Cartwright and Wilson.

Swindon started the day fifth in Sky Bet League Two and knowing a win could take them into the automatic promotion places, while the Mariners sat six points adrift of their hosts and were aiming to make progress from 17th in the table.

Former Premier League striker Charlie Austin would aim to be among the main threats as he linked up with top-scorer Jake Young in the home attack.

An early cross from Tariq Uwakwe went out for a throw-in, before Town’s first forward move saw Rose win the ball and find Clifton, who made his way into the penalty area before being stopped.

Austin hit the post with a header after meeting a ball into the box from Remeao Hutton, although the flag had gone up for offside against the striker.

In an end-to-end opening to the contest, Eisa won the first corner of the afternoon for the Mariners and it quickly led to another.  This time, Hunt swung the ball in towards the far post and it was headed behind for a third consecutive flag-kick, which was cleared.

Mullarkey turned inside the box and sent a low ball across the six-yard line but it was gathered by Swindon keeper Murphy Mahoney, before Clifton was penalised for a foul on Saidou Khan as Town looked to launch an attack from near the halfway line.

Waterfall had to concede a corner to cut a Young cross out but the centre-back was also in the right place to head Cain’s delivery from the left flag clear.

Another home corner followed on 17 minutes but the ball from it was punched away from danger by Eastwood.

The Swindon pressure was building though and with the 20-minute mark approaching, the game was mostly being played inside the Town half.

The away side had an opportunity to cause problems of their own when Efete was brought down by Austin in the centre of the pitch, although Waterfall could only head Andrews’ free kick through to Mahoney.

A cross from Mullarkey on the right was missed by Rose, Clifton and Eisa at one end, before a great block by Rodgers took a strike by Young away from goal for a corner at the other, with both teams looking for a way to break the deadlock.

The opening goal arrived on 26 minutes and it was the hosts who took the lead.  Austin clipped the ball through the middle for KEMP, who had plenty of space to control it, pick his spot and beat Eastwood with a low strike from 20 yards.

Swindon kept the pressure on as they immediately looked to add to their lead, with Town forced to do more defending in and around their own penalty area including a brilliant Rose block from a powerful shot by Kemp.

Gnahoua called Mahoney into action when he let fly from 25 yards after a run through the middle, with the keeper diving to stop the shot.

Mullarkey was spoken to by the referee after a foul on Khan, then a shot by Udoka Godwin-Malife was blocked by Rodgers.  The resulting corner was hooked clear by Hunt.

The Mariners had two chances in quick succession to get themselves level on 36 minutes.  Hunt played a great ball to Eisa on the left and when his initial strike was blocked, he found Clifton but the midfielder was denied by Mahoney from close range.

Another attempt by Clifton was blocked at the edge of the box as Town continued to show positive signs, although Swindon were still causing problems and a Hutton cross had to be headed behind for a corner, which was dealt with.

One added minute was played at the end of the first half and with no further chances coming for either side, Grimsby went into the dressing rooms a goal down at the interval.




No changes were made before the restart and Town created the first opening of the second half when Clifton crossed from the left, although his ball was deflected away from Gnahoua at the far post.

Mullarkey won a challenge with Uwakwe and took the ball down the right but was unable to pick out a team-mate with his cross, then Gnahoua fired wide from the edge of the box.

Town had a great opportunity to equalise when a mistake by Uwakwe led to Mullarkey playing the ball into the box from the right but keeper Mahoney somehow got his hand to Rose’s point-blank shot to keep it out of the net.  The visitors kept possession and seconds later, there was a chance for Mullarkey but he was also unable to make it count as Swindon escaped again.

A home free kick from the right was touched away from danger by Eastwood, before Uwakwe made way for Tyrese Shade and Rushian Hepburn-Murphy replaced Young in a double-substitution for Swindon on 58 minutes.

Frazer Blake-Tracy was booked for bringing Eisa down as the winger looked to burst towards the penalty area, although Andrews’ free kick beat everybody and went out for a throw-in.

Clifton’s name also went into the referee’s notebook after what was adjudged to be a foul on defender Tom Brewitt.

Town had been the better side since the break but they suffered a major setback on 64 minutes when the home side made it 2-0 on the counter-attack.  This time, Kemp was the provider as his chipped ball in behind the Town defence found CAIN and he clipped a neat finish past Eastwood and into the far corner of the net.

Khan, Holohan and Wilson replaced Gnahoua, Hunt and Eisa four minutes later in a triple-substitution for the away side.

And it led to an immediate impact as Town halved their deficit when an Efete throw was headed on to WILSON, who turned away from two defenders on the edge of the box and slotted past Mahoney into the far corner of the net.

A home penalty shout was ignored by the referee after Rodgers looked to have pulled Hepburn-Murphy back, before a cross from Godwin-Malife was blocked by Clifton as Swindon went forward again.

A push by Efete on Kemp gave the hosts a free kick on their right on 76 minutes but Kemp’s delivery from it was headed clear, then Liam Kinsella replaced Cain in the third home change.

Eastwood then had to make a fantastic save to keep the score at 2-1 after Kemp beat Efete on the right and played the ball across the six-yard line for Shade at the far post.  Unmarked, it looked like a tap-in for the substitute but the keeper got a strong hand to his shot to block it.

A Khan cross from the Town left was headed behind for a corner on 84 minutes but Efete could only send his header wide after meeting the delivery from the right.

The Mariners were pushing forward in search of an equaliser and they won another corner when a strike by Rose was sliced behind.  It eventually led to a third flag-kick in quick succession but this time, Mullarkey’s header was off-target.

Pyke was sent on in place of Clifton with two minutes to go and Town were inches away from a precious second goal when a flick by Rodgers rolled wide of the far post as the game moved into six added minutes.

Harrison Minturn replaced Austin for the hosts as they aimed to see the remainder of the contest out, then Rodgers was booked after a foul.

Town were still pushing forward and Khan missed the target with a first-time strike from the edge of the box.

Swindon’s Khan became the latest to see the referee’s yellow card with less than two minutes remaining and the Mariners continuing to look for one final chance to grab a share of the spoils.

Holohan went close to finding that crucial goal in a dramatic end to the game when he let fly from distance but could only watch his fierce strike go inches over the bar.

That proved to be the last opportunity to rescue a positive result for the visitors as time ran out for them and despite being under significant pressure, Swindon held on for all three points.

Town are next in action on Tuesday, when Barrow are the visitors to Blundell Park.


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