Match report: Town secure hard-fought victory against Stockport
Grimsby Town edged out Stockport County to secure an important three points in League Two at Blundell Park this afternoon.
Otis Khan grabbed the only goal of the game to ensure the Mariners bounced back from two straight defeats and earned their first clean sheet in 12 matches.
Paul Hurst made two changes from the side that were well beaten by Salford City on Thursday night, as Niall Maher and Danny Amos both returned to the starting lineup.
In an attempt to shore things up defensively, the Mariners reverted to a back three, with Amos and Michee Efete pushing slightly further forwards into wing-back roles.
The game started at a relatively slow pace, as both sides appeared to be feeling each other out and struggled to break through the lines to create any opportunities in front of goal.
The first real chance didn’t come until 20 minutes in when Gavan Holohan picked out Amos at the back post, but the left-back was unable to guide his header past Ben Hinchliffe, who pulled off a good save down to his left-hand side.
A quick counter on the half-hour mark saw Harry Clifton break away down the right, before he rolled the ball into John McAtee on the edge of the area and he blazed his effort well over the bar.
It wasn’t until eight minutes before the break that Stockport had their first shot on goal, with Ryan Rydel slicing his shot well wide from inside the box.
Luke Waterfall then did well to rise highest to get on the end of a long throw into the penalty area, but he just couldn’t quite get enough on his header to flick it over Hinchliffe.
The away side went close to grabbing the opening goal through Paddy Madden, who picked up the ball outside the box and hit a half-volley that just went wide of Max Crocombe’s post.
There were no further chances before half-time. Both sides will have been pleased with the way they defended but will have wanted to create more chances in front of goal.
The first shot of the second half came two minutes in when Crocombe saved Callum MacDonald’s half-volley from distance, before a quick counter saw the ball fall to Holohan on the right-hand side of the box but his effort went sailing over the bar.
Town then got the breakthrough five minutes into the half, as a long throw was flicked on at the near post and Khan was in the right place at the right time to side-foot the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
County almost found an equaliser within minutes, but Crocombe pulled off a superb save to his left to deny Myles Hippolyte from point-blank range.
A neat ball over the top found McAtee and he laid the ball to Harry Clifton, whose strike was blocked by a defender before it could trouble Hinchliffe.
The midfielder then had another decent chance shortly after that, with his effort from the edge of the area going well over the bar.
A well-worked set-piece from the visitors then saw Joe Lewis have a free header on goal, but his effort from about eight yards out went high and wide.
At the other end, a quickly taken corner resulted in Waterfall heading narrowly over the bar after Khan sent in a lovely ball from the left-hand side of the box.
With seven minutes left on the clock, it was Khan once again at the heart of everything good for Town, as he showed good pace to beat his man, before cutting inside and unleashing an effort that was blocked well by a Stockport defender.
County then had an opportunity to grab an equaliser after the ball found MacDonald following a scramble inside the box and his shot squirmed just wide of the post.
In injury time, Lewis rose highest from a corner but, once again, he was unable to head his effort on target as the away side pushed for a late goal.
Despite seeing a number of balls sent into the box in the last few minutes, Town managed to fend off the late pressure superbly to secure a hard-earned victory.