FA Trophy Match Report: Buxton 0 Grimsby Town 1
GRIMSBY Town made it through to the Second Round of the FA Trophy, at the second time of asking, with a gritty 1-0 win at Buxton.
It took the Mariners until the 87th minute to break the deadlock through Ian Miller's towering header at the far post and set up a Second Round tie against Braintree Town or Havant & Waterlooville.
Rob Scott and Paul Hurst rang the changes after Saturday's 0-0 draw, with James McKeown, Michael Rankine and Greg Pearson coming in for Greg Fleming, Andy Cook and Scott Neilson respectively, while Dayle Southwell and Bradley Wood replaced Andi Thanoj and Sam Hatton.
On a bitter night in Derbyshire, the Mariners, starting off in a 4-4-2 line-up, began positively with Miller directing a tame early header on target from a deep free-kick, while with just over five minutes gone, Marcus Marshall fired over from the edge of the box.
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Minutes later, Rankine, on his first start for Town, showed his strength to muscle past two defenders before being eventually hauled down.
From the resulting free-kick, he was penalised for perhaps using his strength a bit too forcefully when he barged over a Bucks defender as he tried to recover Marshall's flick.
At the other end, Wood had to be alert to clear a deep cross at the far post, but Town broke down the left and were unlucky that Rankine couldn't get on the end of Marshall's low cross as the visitors continued to press for an early goal.
But, with a quarter of the half gone, when Town didn't clear their lines, Scott Maxfield delivered a warning shot when he flashed a wicked volley just wide of McKeown's top corner.
Just as they had at the weekend, Town were dominating possession but Buxton were defending admirably, becoming more adventurous whenever their Conference opponents gave them encouragement.
Lee Morris planted a header wide from their first corner of the game on 20 minutes, while David Haggerty nodded over from their second minutes later.
A neat passage of play involving Niven, Craig Disley and Rankine released a previously quiet Southwell on the right-hand side, but as the youngster cut in, his shot deflected into the arms of Ian Deakin.
The stopper was called into action again seconds later to parry away Aswad Thomas' dipping drive from 20 yards.
His opposite number was kept on his toes by a deflected effort from sub Matt Thornhill, while Disley drove wide and, minutes later, referee Karl Evans brought the half to a close with very little between the two sides.
Town were out quicker and within seconds of the restart could have been ahead but Southwell's low cross ran through the box, evading all in black and white.
Evans waved away half-hearted penalty shouts when Greg Pearson went down as he tried to turn in the box, while the former Burton Albion man poked just wide from Thomas' low centre minutes later.
Town won their first corner of the game just short of the hour mark and, when it was cleared, Wood lifted a speculative volley out of the ground from fully 30 yards.
Morris' determined work then earned his side another corner and Miller just rose highest to take it off the forehead of Haggerty.
At the other end, Town had a half-chance to break the deadlock when Niven sneaked through but just lifted over Deakin's bar as Cook replaced Rankine.
Town were keeping the ball but were in desperate need of a break-though, although Southwell nearly gave them it when his cross from the left-hand side grazed the bar.
At the other end, Morris' clever flick gave Kieran Lugsden space to arrow a strike straight at keeper McKeown.
Cook's first meaningful involvement came on 68 minutes when his strength created an opportunity to Thomas who skewed into the side-netting on the angle from 12 yards, while Southwell drove harmlessly wide seconds later.
Louie Soares made his first appearance for Town after returning from his loan spell at Ebbsfleet when he replaced Marshall in the 75 minute.
And, minutes later, Shaun Pearson belied his centre-half status when he turned neatly in the box and hammered a shot straight at Deakin after a Town free-kick.
Skipper Disley went for the spectacular minutes later but his overhead kick flew just over the Buxton bar as Town continued to apply the pressure.
Shaun Pearson skewed over a half-volley from a near-post corner minutes later as the game entered its last ten minutes still goal-less.
Ross Hannah came on for Greg Pearson to a 'warm' reception from the home crowd, having played for near neighbours Matlock.
With the game looking certain to go to extra time, Miller rose highest to meet Soares' cross – after his first corner was cleared – to nod in from six yards and give the Mariners a priceless goal.
Hannah could have made the closing stages more comfortable for the Mariners as the game entered stoppage time, but he was flagged offside as he bore down on goal.
Town held firm for the remaining minutes to see off a spirited Buxton side and record a hard-fought, if far from attractive, win that secured their passage to the Second Round.