Question of the WeekWho will win the National League?
Town Win Again
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY recorded their fourth league victory in succession to climb into the top ten in the Conference with a fine 5-2 victory over Alfreton - bizarrely a repeat of the scoreline in the reverse fixture at Blundell Park. The Mariners have now gone nine league games without defeat and top the form table.
In a game of lots of chances to both teams Town raced into a 2-0 lead with two first half deflected goals. Arnold pulled one pack for the home side, but then Grimsby restored their two goal cushion before half time thanks to Hearn's second goal against his former club.
Garner bundled in Town's fourth, only for Alfreton to give themselves hope when Wilson made it 4-2 midway through the second half. But the final game fell to Town when Rob Duffy scored an individual goal for Grimsby to notch up 5. It took Grimsby 9 away games to manage 5 goals in total, but in the last four games away from Blundell Park they have now racked up 11 goals. Town's most emphatic away victory of the season saw them move into tenth place and the prospect of relegation now is a very distant one with the Mariners only ten points away from safety with almost half the season to go. Around 1000 Grimsby supporters travelled to see the Mariners win again.
Town made two changes from the side which beat Lincoln City on New Year's Day, both enforced. Gary Silk came in at right-back for the suspended Bradley Wood and Andi Thanoj replaced the departed Manny Panther (who was also suspended) in midfield. Craig Disley's ankle was good enough to allow him to start the game, after limping off injured in the Lincoln game at Blundell Park.
Alfreton almost scored in the first minute when McKeown saved low with his feet from Arnold and then Town broke from their corner and Hearn shrugged off a challenge brilliantly and ended up making a pinpoint cross for Artus stood unmarked in a great position who skied it over the bar.
Hearn gave Town the lead when Townsend played a long ball forward to him on the edge of the box. Hearn took a touch and it was deflected off a defender into the net, a slightly fortunate opener against his old side.
Town continued to boss the game and Artus missed another golden opportunity when Coulson set him and Artus failed to connect properly from close range. Elding also went close when played through with a long ball, and Coulson had a shot blocked on the line as the Mariners were dominant.
Town scored a second from a quick Artus free kick, which was played forward to Hearn whose shot again took a deflection, this time off Coulson. This was even more fortunate as the initial effort was well wide of the target and Coulson new little about it.
Arnold gave the home side a lifeline when a ball was played into the box from a free kick and the striker turned on the edge of the box and fired it in.
Town gave themselves breathing space when Thanoj set up Hearn, who rounded the keeper who came out far to early and found the target with ease.
Alfreton changed their keeper at half time for a ex-Town defender Greg Young. But the home side almost took the lead at the start of the second half when McKeown mistake led to a chance for Arnold but Garner cleared the ball off the line.
With Town coming under pressure at the start of the second half, Town scored against the run of play. The rookie keeper punched the ball and it fell to Garner whose shot from point blank range went in.
Town wobbled again and conceded to make it 4-2 when McKeown, who had made two good saves earlier in the half, struggled with another cross from a corner which Wilson bundled in.
Alfreton continued to look dangerous especially when they launched balls into the box.
Town amazingly added a fifth in the final minute when Duffy broke and scored an individual goal for a repeat of the 5-2 scoreline at Blundell Park. With Town rarely keeping a clean sheet they'll probably have to score at least two to get anything out of the game at the Abbey against their in-form opponents, who sit in eigth place. After Cambridge the fixture list is relatively kind to Town again until around mid-February when it starts to get a lot harder.
The win means the run of matches against "lesser" sides is now behind them. Town have their toughest challenge for some time on Tuesday night against Cambridge.
Alfreton Town: Day, Streete, Quinn, Young, Franklin, Law, Moult, Brown, Arnold, Anthony Wilson, Jarman
Subs: Matt Wilson, Clayton, Franks, Hall, Mullan
Grimsby: McKeown, Silk, Garner, Miller, Townsend, Coulson, Disley, Thanoj, Artus, Hearn, Elding
Subs: Duffy, Pearson, Makofo, McCarthy, Hughes-Mason
Referee: Michael Bull (Essex)
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