Match report: Grimsby Town 4 Luton Town 1
GRIMSBY TOWN hammered their promotion rivals Luton Town 4-1 on an uplifting evening at Blundell Park last night.
Goals from Joe Colbeck, Andy Cook, debutant Ross Hannah and a second-half own goal from Dean Beckwith ensured that the Mariners ran out convincing winners – and moved into the Conference play-off places, if only for a few hours.
After joining on three-month loan deals just days before, winger Scott Neilson and forward Ross Hannah were thrown straight into the action.
They replaced Frankie Artus and Anthony Elding respectively in an otherwise unchanged team to that which started against Kidderminster.
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Luton started with Jon Shaw at the point of their attack, with a dangerous looking trio of Andre Gray, Scott Rendell and Stuart Fleetwood just behind.
Luton enjoyed much of the possession early on, with Alex Lawless pulling the strings in midfield. The Hatters fired a warning shot with just over five minutes on the clock when Fleetwood found Rendell with a clever reverse pass, but the latter could only shoot wide.
But Town hit back at the other end and with eight minutes on the clock, they had the game's opening goal.
Derek Niven swung in a dangerous cross which Andy Cook nodded down to the alert Hannah who drew a point-blank save from Tyler, but the ball rebounded to Joe Colbeck who poked it over the line off the post to bring Blundell Park to its feet.
The early goal had settled the home side who were firmly on top as Niven flashed a volley just wide from 18 yards out.
The visitor's share of possession would have been a cause for concern for Rob Scott and Paul Hurst – JJ O'Donnell curled just over from the edge of the area as Paul Buckle's men went looking for an equaliser.
The Mariners' new boys were enjoying a good debut and, having played a part in the opener, Hannah tried his luck from distance minutes later, while Neilson was showing a good touch and turn of pace.
The winger, who is on loan from Crawley, skipped past his marker and whipped in a dangerous cross that just evaded Cook as Town probed for a second.
Craig Disley was booked on the half hour for a challenge on Alex Lawless and Janos Kovacs headed wide from the resulting free-kick.
But on 33 minutes, when Nathan Pond misjudged a clearance and flicked onto Rendell's head, James McKeown pulled off yet another point-blank save as the ball looked destined to fly in the top-corner.
Cook has endured a stuttering start to his Blundell Park career, but when Pond's header crashed off the ball from a superb Aswad Thomas cross – the former Barrow man reacted first and stooped to nod past Tyler and double Town's advantage six minutes before the break.
If that brought the fans to their feet, they were in dreamland just minutes later.
Hannah was set free by fellow debutant Neilson and the Yorkshireman showed good pace to nip in front of Beckwith and steer the ball past the outrushing Tyler to the delight of a packed Pontoon stand.
Pond hooked a late effort on target from a Thomas cross as Town pushed for a fourth but he was thwarted by Tyler and referee Banks called time on a remarkable half for the hosts.
Town started the second in a similar mood to how they had ended the first, with Neilson cutting in from the left-hand side and firing a vicious shot just over the bar just seconds after the restart.
But Luton were not going to lie down and when a corner found Rendell at the far post, McKeown got down superbly to keep out his powerful downward header.
With an hour on the clock, Nielson stole the ball from Lawless and launched another Town attack.
He slid in Colbeck on the edge of the area, but Tyler got down well to push his side-footed effort wide as Hannah looked to pounce.
With 25 minutes to go, Pearson crashed another header off the bar from an inviting Colbeck cross while, at the other end, the Town back line had to be alert to keep out another chance after some clever link-up between Shaw and Rendell.
But the visitor's misery was compounded when Beckwith headed past his own keeper to gift Town their fourth goal of the game with just under 20 minutes to go.
But with 14 minutes left on the clock, the visitors pulled one back when McKeown couldn't hold Howell's original effort, Rendell pounced to blot Town's copy book and deny them yet another clean sheet.
Dayle Southwell came on with 10 minutes to go as Hannah left the field to warm applause from the 4,000 strong crowd.
It had been an encouraging debut from the man borrowed from Bradford and one that showed he could be out-and-out goalscorer Town have been craving.
His replacement could have rounded off Town's night in style when Frankie Artus set the youngster racing free but Tyler saved well from his side-footed effort and Luton cleared.
Despite some late pressure from the visitors, the Mariners stood firm and saw the game out to record a win their tireless display had deserved.
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