Match report: Town secure deserved victory over Tranmere
Grimsby Town ended their long wait for a league victory by securing all three points against Tranmere Rovers this afternoon.
Goals from Brendan Kiernan and Niall Maher put the Mariners two-nil ahead, before Jake Burton pulled one back for the visitors in the second half.
Paul Hurst made one change to the side that lost at AFC Wimbledon last week, with Danny Amos returning to the lineup to replace Evan Khouri.
Town started the game on the front foot and, after winning an early corner, Luke Waterfall rose highest to head towards goal, but his effort was beaten around the post by Ross Doohan in the visitors’ net.
The frantic opening to the game was soon followed up by a chance for Tranmere at the other end, with Paul Lewis diverting the ball wide from about 10 yards out.
Following some good work on the left by John McAtee, the forward cut inside and curled a sumptuous cross into Kiernan, who hurled himself at the ball and guided it into the bottom corner with his head to put the Mariners in front on six minutes.
Gavan Holohan thought he’d doubled his side’s lead just minutes later, with Otis Khan whipping a ball into the far post, but his teammate was narrowly offside before he tapped it into the net.
A mistake by Amos on halfway saw Rovers go two-on-one with Harry Clifton and the midfielder did superbly well to time his challenge just right to prevent Kane Hemmings from having a free shot on goal and winning a goal-kick in the process.
A neat ball in behind played McAtee in on goal, but with the ball bouncing, he was forced to take an early shot at goal and his effort looped over the bar with 20 minutes on the clock.
Although Tranmere grew into the game and got a bit more of a foot on the ball over the next 10 minutes, Town defended well and put in some full-blooded challenges to maintain their lead.
Lewis then had an excellent chance to level things up, as he got across his man at the near post and just couldn’t quite get his foot around the ball to divert it on target to test Max Crocombe.
The away side maintained their pressure and, once again, went close when a long-range effort whistled past the post and behind for a corner following a deflection.
The Mariners managed to fend off the pressure and went in at half-time with a one-goal lead.
They emerged from the break the better of the two sides and had a superb chance to double their lead early on when McAtee found space and sent a teasing low cross across the box that Khan just couldn’t quite get on the end of just in front of goal.
Kiernan then had an even better opportunity to grab his second of the afternoon minutes later, as Amos’s ball found him free at the back post and he somehow headed the ball back where it came from and it was cleared away.
Town’s pressure would finally tell on 58 minutes, though, when Khan’s teasing free-kick was flicked on at the near post by Maher and into the far corner to double the lead.
Some lovely play down the right-hand side saw Michee Efete and McAtee play a one-two, with the former eventually skewing an effort well wide of the net.
Tranmere then got a lucky break against the run of play when substitute Burton closed down Crocombe’s clearance and the ball bounced into the net to halve the deficit on 66 minutes.
A neat exchange between Kiernan and McAtee saw the latter drive an effort towards goal, but Doohan did well to turn it around the post for a corner and keep his side in the game.
Shortly after coming off the bench, Joel Mumbongo headed wide of the target from point-blank range in a rare opportunity for Rovers.
Burton then sent a fierce snapshot from outside the area that was held well by Crocombe down to his right with seven minutes left to play.
In injury time, Town had a strong shout for a penalty turned down when substitute Danilo Orsi appeared to be shoved over in the box, but the referee waved play on.
The Mariners managed to hold off some late pressure from Tranmere to secure an important three points and their first in the league for six games.