Forest Green Rovers 2 Grimsby Town 1
By Neil Martin
In a pulsating game of two halves, Rovers were able to cling on to the three points and soar to sixth place in the Skrill Premier table. In the process they dented the hopes of a serious play-off rival and in the first half played their most positive and effective football of the season.
Aaron Racine started his suspension after being sent off at Tamworth, so Dale Bennett returned to partner Eddie Oshodi at centre back. Jamie Turley and the fit again Chris Stokes were the full-backs with Jared Hodgkiss being rested to the bench, along with striker Danny Wright. Matty Taylor and Lee Hughes were Rovers’ striking options. Grimsby came into the game full of confidence after a good run of results.
It took Lee Hughes barely three minutes to impose his Football League class on proceedings with a superbly taken goal. He showed great pace & desire when chasing a through ball on the right, cut inside two defenders and drilled under keeper McKeown.
This sensational start for Rovers unnerved Grimsby and FGR maintained their intensity and fast paced football throughout the opening quarter. A high tempo move on 10 minutes involving the busy Taylor fed Norwood on the right to cross and Hughes’ goal bound shot was blocked. A minute later the imperious Hughes spread the ball wide right again to Norwood, who cut infield and let a quick shot go from the edge of the box. Unluckily for FGR, it hit the inside of the right hand post and bounced away harmlessly.
Whilst Grimsby gradually got their first serious possession of the night around the twenty minute mark, Rovers kept the pressure up and added to their lead on 28 minutes. Eddie Oshodi climbed highest to solidly meet a Marcus Kelly corner from the right and guide the ball into the far corner of the net.
Grimsby finally created a chance on 35 minutes when Cook stubbed a toe poke wide of Russell but the keeper made a great reaction save to preserve the two goal cushion. FGR were still bossing the game though, with Taylor, Norwood and Hughes all prominent in terrorising the Mariners’ defence.
Hughes headed over from a corner and Barry shot tamely after a sweet team move from the home side. They went in at half-time two goals up and should have been pleased with a terrific first half showing against quality opposition.
Immediately the game re-started it was apparent that Grimsby had come out of the dressing room determined to get back into the game. They laid siege to the FGR goal as Cook’s header was brilliantly tipped over by Russell and then minutes later his next header rested on the top of the Rovers’ net. Neilson cut in from the right and clipped the left-hand post with his shot and Cook then couldn’t quite connect with a searching cross from the right.
Their pressure was rewarded on 58 minutes when a neat left foot strike from Neilson was drilled into the Rovers’ net.
Rovers tried to re-assert themselves and on 67 minutes a Taylor flicked header from a Kelly free-kick floated just inches wide of the far post. This was to be only a brief interruption to Grimsby pressure and their fan’s amusing shouts of ‘fish, fish, fish’ were more regularly heard!
Both sides made substitutions, with Luke Rodgers coming on for Taylor for FGR and on 84 minutes Rovers survived a real scare when Jennings put two dangerous crosses into the box in quick succession, which eventually led to a Grimsby header going narrowly wide. Hodgkiss came on for Barry and in added time FGR had another close call when Paul Green headed off the line from Boyce’s effort. Norwood was replaced by Asufa-Adjaye as a time-wasting move but FGR were able to close out the game successfully.
Ady Pennock said he was just as pleased with his side’s second half show of character as he was with the football they played in the first. He still insisted on the classic ‘taking each game as it comes’ line and said he wasn’t going to put pressure on the players despite their proximity to the play-offs. He again thanked the fans, who would definitely have left the New Lawn very happy.
FGR- Russell, Turley, Stokes, Bennett, Oshodi, Green, Barry, Kelly, Norwood, Hughes, Taylor
Grimsby- McKeown, Hatton, Thomas, Kerr, Pearson, Disley, Cook, Neilson, Thanoj, Jennings, Boyce
Att – 1219 (away 172) Severn Sport Man of The Match – Lee Hughes