More home woe for Grimsby Town after late Macclesfield penalty
THERE would have been an air of disbelief in the Grimsby Town dressing room at the full-time whistle on Saturday.
After dominating for large parts of the game, the Mariners trudged off the pitch having lost their third home game on the bounce.
It might have been visiting forward Matthew Barnes-Homer's late spot-kick that separated the sides, but it was goalkeeper Lance Cronin who played the biggest role in earning the Cheshire outfit the points.
The 27-year-old was in inspired form and pulled off a string of fine saves to secure the Silkmen's first Blue Square Bet Premier win of October.
Rob Scott and Paul Hurst were able to welcome back the trio of Aswad Thomas, Shaun Pearson and Ross Hannah who all missed Town's FA Cup defeat at the hands of Kidderminster.
Skipper Craig Disley, who limped off after coming on as an sub against the Harriers, also made the starting XI.
Cleethorpes-born Town fan Peter Winn began on the left wing of a Macclesfield Town team that included double-barrelled pairing Matthew Barnes-Homer and Amari Morgan-Smith up front.
The latter was appealing for an early penalty when he went down under an untidy challenge from Nathan Pond inside the first two minutes, but referee Rob Whitton was unmoved.
Town had their first real sight of goal moments later when Shaun Pearson chested down Bradley Wood's free-kick to fire a right-footed half-volley that was kept out by the outstretched arm of Cronin.
With ten minutes gone, the visitors won a free-kick from 25 yards that Murtagh swung in to Barnes-Homer at the far post, but the marksmen could only head into the side-netting.
At the other end, Pond nearly got on the end of a Joe Colbeck delivery to the far post, while Colbeck himself fired just over with a stinging drive.
And they nearly broke the deadlock moments later when Anthony Elding's clever flick sent his strike partner Hannah free in the area.
The Bradford City man rounded Cronin, but the offside flag was raised as he hit the post on the turn.
Town were on top and Pond could only watch as his header dropped onto the bar.
They went close again from another set piece five minutes before the break as Pearson got on the end of another Colbeck free-kick, but could only lift his headed effort over as the half finished goal-less.
The Mariners were out brightly after the break and Elding went close at the near post from another Colbeck cross and, just seconds later, Niven planted a firm-right footed shot straight at Cronin from the edge of the area.
Macclesfield regrouped and soon fashioned a chance of their own when a counter-attack was half cleared to Ryan Jackson, who fired well over.
At the other end, the lively Scott Neilson, right, skipped off the flank and fired a dipping drive that had Cronin scrambling to keep it out.
The visiting keeper had definitely been the busier of the stoppers and he had to be alert again to tip a deflected cross from Disley onto the bar.
Macclesfield responded well, with substitute Charles Henry firing a drive that flew across James McKeown's goal before the stopper was called into action on the stroke of the hour to parry out a powerful drive.
From the resulting corner, Disley hacked off the line as Pablo Mills tried to force home.
The Mariners were guilty of surrendering possession too easily.
The bosses responded by bringing on Andi Thanoj for Hannah in a move that saw Neilson pushed up alongside Elding.
And it nearly paid dividends as he drew another smart save from Cronin down to his right just after the hour.
Neilson was frustrated by the stopper when a long ball from Disley set him through on goal.
He skipped past Mills and looked to lift over Cronin, who spread himself well to deflect over for a corner, which Elding then headed straight at him.
Southwell was introduced to the fray in place of Colbeck, as Scott and Hurst changed it up and switched to 4-3-3.
And the youngster would have been on the scoresheet five minutes after coming on had it not been for Cronin who pulled off yet another stunning save to deny him from 12 yards out.
Winn fluffed his lines when the ball fell to him on the edge of the Town box, ballooning his shot harmlessly over the Osmond Stand.
But when another Town set piece came to nothing, his side broke and the ball was played into Barnes-Homer who eventually worked his way into the box. As he paused and tried to turn out, he was brought down under the recovering challenge of Thomas.
This time, Whitton had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Barnes-Homer rifled the spot kick into the roof of the net.
The home side's frustrations began to boil over and Neilson was shown a straight red card for kicking out at Kieran Murtagh.
The ten men of Town pushed for an equaliser only to continue to be frustrated by Cronin yet again.
He pulled off an incredible double save to deny first Andy Cook and then Elding.
That was before he saw off the Mariners' final push – which included goalkeeper McKeown – to earn his side all three points.
Given their record on the road of late, Town will perhaps be pleased that their next two games come away from Blundell Park, firstly at Tamworth next Saturday and then at Hyde the following Tuesday.