Match report: Town fall to disappointing defeat at Hartlepool
Grimsby Town fell to defeat at Hartlepool United this afternoon despite taking an early lead in the game.
Gavan Holohan grabbed the opener for the Mariners at Victoria Park, but two late goals from Alex Lacey and a Niall Maher own goal handed the hosts all three points.
Paul Hurst made three changes to the side that lost at Barrow on Tuesday night, with Maher, Danny Amos and Lewis Richardson coming in for Jordan Cropper, Kieran Green and Otis Khan.
That led to a change in the system to three at the back, as the Mariners boss looked for a response from his team following a disappointing performance in midweek.
His side knew a win could propel them back into the playoff picture, while bottom side Pools came into the game desperate for three points after picking up just one win so far this season.
The first opportunity of the game fell to Town, with a neat ball being played in behind the Hartlepool defence to Michee Efete – who was playing in an advanced role at right-wing back – but his ball across the box just evaded the sliding Ryan Taylor in the middle. The cross needed to be better.
With just five minutes on the clock, Holohan scored a sensational goal from just outside the area for the Mariners against his old side.
The ball dropped to the midfielder perfectly on the half-volley and his right-footed, outside of the foot effort swerved into the top corner, leaving the keeper with no chance whatsoever.
They remained in complete control throughout the opening 10 minutes, with the visitors dominating the ball, Efete finding acres of space on the right-hand side and Richardson causing problems in behind Taylor.
Hartlepool slowly grew into the game a little bit more over the next 10 minutes but failed to work any openings that would threaten Max Crocombe’s goal, as the Town backline looked reasonably comfortable.
Callum Cooke had their first real effort of note on 27 minutes when the attacking midfielder picked the ball up on the edge of the area and flashed an effort a yard wide of the post.
Crocombe was forced into an excellent save to his right from Wes McDonald’s free-kick a few minutes later after Luke Waterfall picked up a yellow card following a tangle on the edge of the area.
Town then thought they may have doubled the lead against the run of play when Richardson broke on the counter, played the ball left to Taylor and the forward found the far corner with a lovely effort but the linesman raised his flag to rule it out.
There were no more chances towards the end of the first half, with the Mariners taking a 1-0 lead in at the break. The side will have been pleased with how they started the game, but they sat back more after the opening 15 minutes and allowed Hartlepool to come back into the contest as the half went on.
Holohan and Harry Clifton combined well with only a minute gone in the second half, but the latter’s effort was straight at Ben Killip in the Pools goal.
Crocombe was then forced into a superb save down to his right to deny Cooke from the edge of the area and the ball was eventually cleared away.
The visitors managed to get a foothold back in the game and almost got a second on 56 minutes. Waterfall nodded a header into a dangerous area and the keeper was forced into an instinctive save with his feet after Maher diverted the ball goalwards.
Just past the hour-mark, Hurst brought on Aribim Pepple for Taylor, as he looked to add a different dimension to his team’s attack and utilise the forward’s pace on the counter.
It almost paid dividends within minutes, as the on-loan striker broke forward, shrugged off a tackle and delivered into Clifton, who just couldn’t quite get on the end of it. The ball was then recycled and, after finding space in the box, Pepple was unable to direct his effort on target.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Holohan played Clifton through on the right of the box but his strike was saved comfortably by the keeper and the midfielder perhaps should have done better.
Town were punished just two minutes later when Alex Lacey found himself in acres of space six yards out and the Hartlepool defender headed home into the corner of the net to level things up.
With the crowd fully behind them, Pools then went ahead with nine minutes remaining following some sloppy defending from the Mariners, leaving striker Josh Umerah free inside the box to hit the ball towards goal and it took a deflected off Maher and went in.
Keyendrah Simmonds came desperately close to salvaging a point for the Mariners as the board went up for injury-time, but the forward’s effort just went agonisingly past the post with the keeper rooted to the spot.
Hartlepool held on for the victory and Town will be kicking themselves to have not capitalised on an excellent start to the game.