The Mariners earned a well-deserved point on the road against title-chasing Ilkeston Town on Sunday Afternoon. The returning Alisha DeJonge’s effort was cancelled out early in the second half by the hosts.
Ilkeston were on a 5-match winning run before this game and looked to take control of proceedings early on and push Grimsby back, seeing two shots in the first eight minutes from dangerous positions wasted.
The Mariners made a tactical switch after 15 minutes switching DeJonge and Lily Jacklin and this gained them the upper hand in proceedings. Olivia Kershaw saw two venomous freekicks beaten away by the Ilkeston keeper and Jacklin was unable to beat her to a through ball.
Both teams had chances towards the latter end of the half with Ilkeston firing wide one on one with Mariners Keeper Chloe Gray, Jacklin unable to connect to a delightful DeJonge cross and Beth Wharton stinging the keepers’ hands. The Mariners just about edged the first half but both teams went in goalless. DeJonge was proving a thorn in the Ilkeston left side battling and winning every contest.
Both teams came out with Ilkeston making a change in their formation and personnel with the left back being replaced after being given a torrid time by the impressive DeJonge to try and push back against the mounting Town pressure that the first half ended with. The Mariners continued in the same way they left the first half, smothering the Ilkeston attack and transitioning quickly and dangerously. Wharton was played through one on one but a last-ditch slide tackle putting paid to a certain goal.
Two minutes later, on the 55th minute, a carbon copy through ball, this time from the imperious Kershaw, split the defence sending DeJonge racing through with one touch to steady herself and gain control of the ball and a second touch to slide it past the hapless keeper and into the bottom corner. No less than what had been deserved for the Mariners, but the lead was not held for long.
A freekick for Ilkeston given for an offside was fired quickly up field with the Mariners having no time to set between phases. A quick one-two saw Ilkeston through on goal one-on-one, with Gray rushing out to attempt to smother the shot. The host striker passed to her striking partner who had the simple task of passing into the empty net.
The home team made couple more changes and the fresher legs worked in their favour with two chances one on one with the Mariners keeper who came out on top in both. Another tactical tweak from the Mariners saw them look to stay more compact and rappel all Ilkeston attacks which worked, limiting the hosts to hopeful shots from 20/30 yards.
The Mariners had a chance to win it in the 80th minute as good play between Danielle Brighton, DeJonge and Wharton saw Wharton hit the by-line, but her cut back was taken off the toes of Jacklin at the back post by another last-ditch tackle. The hosts pushed for a winner but could not find a way past the stubborn Mariners disciplined defence.
Grimsby Town Captain Danielle Brighton gave her thoughts at full-time and said, “I’m really proud, proud of the girls, proud of the staff, proud of the performance, we fought for one another. We had a well-deserved point snatched from us last week and was determined not to let that happen again. You could see by everyone putting their bodies on the line how much we wanted this. We took them all the way and deserved to bring a point back home with us”
Manager Hayley Cox was immensely proud of her side, saying “They stuck to their tasks, stayed compact and pressured when we had the opportunity to. We created some good openings in the game and on another day could have got one or two more goals.
“The ladies have been working hard in training and that is starting to pay off. We were unlucky to leave Basford with nothing last week and this week we were good value for 3 points. In this league, it is all about small margins and we are hoping we can now make a run to finish the season strongly.
“There is still a lot to play for in this league with nine games left, every point is crucial in our hopes to remain in the league. Our standout performance was our keeper Chloe Gray who made a couple of excellent one on one saves and a lovely, worked goal with a beautiful assist from Olivia to put Alisha through to finish.”
Mariners: Gray, Appels, Dalton, Kershaw, Wray, Pedersen, Brighton, Walsh, Wharton, Jacklin, DeJonge
Grimsby Town Women’s next fixture is at Home against Sleaford Town Ladies in the quarter final of the County Plate on 18th February, Kick off 14:00 at Oasis Wintringham Academy.