Grimsby Town 1 Stockport County 2: Mariners stunned by fightback
THE Mariners were once again unable to hold onto a one-goal lead – and this time it resulted in defeat.
Once defender Nathan Pond had crashed them in front with a stunning second-half volley, it looked like Grimsby Town were heading for a first victory of the new season.
But two Stockport goals in the final ten minutes shattered that belief, and left the Blundell Park crowd stunned.
The big news ahead of kick-off was the sight of Liam Hearn's name on the team-sheet.
MAYFAIR ESTATE AGENTS
If we cannot find you a tenant within one month, we will find you one for FREE, yes FREE, you will pay no fees
Contact 01472 355553
Terms: Terms and Conditions Apply
Contact: 01472 355 553
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
Admittedly, last season's top scorer for the Mariners was only amongst the substitutes but, after his injury problems during pre-season, it was a welcome sight for the home supporters.
After Saturday's encouraging draw at Southport, the starting-11 remained unchanged, with Simon Ford replacing fellow centre-half Ian Miller on the bench.
The visitors went into the clash on the back of a 1-0 opening day victory over Alfreton Town, and their match-winner Danny Hattersley again led the line.
Town started fast and within two minutes they had hit the woodwork.
Aswad Thomas' cross from the left found Andy Cook at the far post and he helped the ball onto the right-hand upright, with County keeper Ian Ormson scrambling.
Within seconds, quick feet from Danny Rowe in the box gave the County man space to lash the ball over from 12 yards.
The Mariners were passing the ball around nicely in the opening stages, with one classy move almost sending Greg Pearson through, only for the assistant's flag to halt his progress.
Thomas then tried his luck from 30 yards with a sledgehammer of a left-foot drive which Ormson did well to hold onto above his head.
Undeterred, County showed they hadn't just come along for the ride, as striker Craig Hobson put two headers wide from decent crosses in front of the travelling Hatters fans.
Greg Pearson's tame effort from 20 yards out was easy for Ormson, as the early excitement began to peter out, although Hobson did go into the referee's notebook for a dangerous high-footed challenge which caught Bradley Wood smack in the face.
Hobson sliced another effort well wide, but the game desperately needed a spark and Greg Pearson so nearly delivered it in the 35th minute.
With Ormson in possession after a free-kick, the striker waited behind County's stopper in the hope he would throw the ball down before launching it forward.
The keeper did just that, giving Pearson the simple task of nipping in front of him before tapping the ball home. Only the execution was lacking, as the forward pushed the ball too far past Ormson, allowing the County defence the chance to recover and squeeze it out for a corner.
Joe Colbeck was looking increasingly lively in the lead up to half-time – and his superb run and cross was inches away from being stabbed home by Cook.
The winger then clipped in a decent far post corner which centre-half Nathan Pond couldn't quite reach to direct on goal, before referee Chris Knowles decided it was time for a 15-minute break.
Wood made Town's second-half intentions clear with an early effort over the bar from distance before Shaun Pearson became the first Mariner to be booked for dissent.
But with the crowd growing restless, it was time for the cavalry.
Crowd favourites Hearn and Anthony Elding entered play, replacing Greg Pearson and Cook, to a massive roar from the Town faithful.
Elding soon tried to repeat his team-mates' first-half ploy of 'hide and seek' but Ormson wasn't about to fall for that again, and kept hold of the ball.
Clear-cut chances were proving hard to come by until the 66th minute when Colbeck's cross was met by a charging Craig Disley, and his touch from 10 yards went agonisingly wide of the near post.
The game was crying out for a touch of class and it came from, perhaps, an unlikely source. A high ball into the County box was headed back into the danger area by Shaun Pearson and on-loan centre-back Pond unleashed a right-foot 'hooked' volley that crashed in off the underside of the bar.
The towering defender couldn't have hit many better in his career – and he certainly celebrated like it was a pretty rare occurrence.
Sean Newton bent a free-kick into Town keeper James McKeown's arms to register the visitors' first shot on target, in the 76th minute.
But, similarly to the opening clash at Southport, the Mariners were to be hauled back by their opponents in the final ten minutes.
There seemed little danger when Danny Rowe picked up the ball on the County right, but in a split second he had cut inside Thomas and rifled a left-footer past McKeown.
Town had shouts for a penalty two minutes from time when the ball appeared to skip up and hit Carl Pergianni's hand in the visitors' box, but their appeals were waved away.
And the killer blow was to follow as County worked a corner along the front of the Mariners' box, and substitute Whitehead was allowed to smash the ball home at the second attempt from 20 yards.
It left the home crowd silent – and Town still chasing their first victory of the Blue Square Bet Premier season despite leading in both of their two matches so far.