Match report: Hereford United 0 Grimsby Town 2
MORE than 200 Grimsby Town fans made the journey down to sunny Herefordshire, hoping that their side’s performance against Mansfield Town wasn’t going to be a false dawn.
And, after a convincing 2-0 away win against recently-relegated Hereford United, they bounced back up to North East Lincolnshire with the growing sense that the Mariners may have finally clicked.
Dayle Southwell and Shaun Pearson grabbed goals in a stunning five minute spell before half-time to give Rob Scott and Paul Hurst’s side back-to-back wins for the first time in seven months.
The joint bosses named an unchanged starting XI to that which stunned the Stags on bank holiday Monday, with the only change being on the bench – Simon Ford coming in for Louie Soares.
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After travelling down the day before, Town were visibly fresh and started on the front foot on their first visit to Edgar Street since April 2010.
And within two minutes, Derek Niven and former Bull Joe Colbeck combined to create an early chance for Andy Cook, but Dan Hanford in the hosts’ goal rushed out to collect the cross confidently.
Minutes later, Frankie Artus tested Hanford with a clever free-kick that had the stopper scrambling to keep the Bristolian’s curling effort out at his near post.
The hosts fashioned their first real chance when the impressive Sam Clucas got past Bradley Wood and curled in a near-post cross only for Tom Nichols to head over as both sides continued to labour in the stifling heat.
Town were forced into an early change on 25 minutes when young frontman Southwell replaced the injured Greg Pearson.
And when Cook fashioned a cross-cum-shot from the left hand side, Southwell nearly introduced himself to the game in the best possible way – but his effort to get on the end of his strike partner’s centre was bundled out.
From the resulting corner, Shaun Pearson got up highest to powerfully nod down Artus’ delivery and rattle the bar as Town began to get on top of their opponents.
That passage of play further cheered the travelling clan of Mariners fans, who were to thank for creating what atmosphere there was at an otherwise hushed Edgar Street.
Town were keeping the ball well in tight areas of the pitch, with Niven and skipper Craig Disley dictating the tempo of the game.
At times, however, Town were guilty of being overly eager to play a decisive pass, perhaps too keen to recapture the free-scoring mood of their previous game.
Nichols flashed an inviting cross that went begging for the Bulls while, at the other end, Artus skied a shot over the terraced stand that flew into the town centre car park behind, much to the delight of the standing home fans behind the goal.
Town were appealing for their second penalty in as many games minutes later when the lively Artus went down in the area, but referee Charles Breakspear was unmoved.
But five minues before half-time, after more good work from Disley to break up a promising Hereford attack, the Mariners broke the deadlock.
Aswad Thomas found Southwell free in the area and the youngster showed a good touch to turn and fire the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.
And, just like they had against Mansfield, Town doubled their advantage just minutes before half-time, after some head tennis in the Hereford box.
After Artus swung in another tempting corner, Pearson’s initial header deflected off the post to Nathan Pond, who could only head it back for the former Boston man who finally nodded in at the back post. It probably wasn’t a set-piece routine taken straight from the training ground, but they all count.
After a breathless five minutes, Town were firmly on top, so much so that they didn’t really want to hear the half-time whistle that took them into the break at 2-0.
Hereford were out early for the restart after a half-time dressing down from boss Martin Foyle. And it seemed to work for a spell, with much of the early play in Town’s half.
The home crowd had suddenly found their voices and Sean Canham headed over just five minutes into the half as the hosts began to build some early pressure.
Foyle attempted to sharpen his side’s attacking threat by throwing on all three of his substitutes just after the hour mark, with debutant Tristan Plummer and Ryan Bowman coming on for the Bulls, followed shortly by Ashley Sammons.
Before the game, many fans were asking if this was going to be the game for young frontman Cook to finally break his goal-scoring duck.
That moment could have arrived when Thomas found him with a dangerous centre from the left-hand side, but the former Barrow man could only head over with 20 minutes to go.
Almost instantly, Town were nearly caught napping.
James McKeown raced out of his goal after another long ball from Hereford’s back line, however, the ball looped over his head and the young stopper was grateful to Pond for his goal-saving intervention as Hereford looked to pounce.
The situation was almost replicated at the other end when Hanford misjudged a long ball. Southwell, however, could only slice his volley wide of an empty goal from 25 yards out.
Anthony Elding was introduced into the game with 15 minutes to go. As Cook trudged off, he applauded the travelling Town faithful knowing that his next chance to grab his first goal in a black and white shirt will be the game against his former club Barrow tomorrow evening.
Elding and then Artus could have made it three late on with a diving header that flew just over.
With the game entering stoppage time, McKeown, who had been largely untested all afternoon, pulled off a stunning one-handed save to deny Harry Pell’s top-corner-bound effort.
It was a save that deserved to earn a clean sheet and the Mariners duly saw the game out to record their second win in as many games.
Their performance had been solid and efficient.
And – although it perhaps didn’t quite reach the heights of the Mansfield game – the fact it came away from home, against one of the league’s ‘bigger’ teams, arguably meant that it was more impressive.
Town will be looking to make it three on the bounce when they travel to Barrow tomorrow evening.
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