Rovers pay price of settling for a point
GRIMSBY TOWN 1 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 0
SUBCONSCIOUS or otherwise, Forest Green must banish any perception of ex-Football League grounds as impenetrable fortresses.
A tight encounter at Blundell Park should probably have ended all-square, but Rovers' apparent willingness to settle for a point ended up biting them in the backside.
Nathan Pond's 63rd minute goal was enough to inflict their first defeat of the season – far from disastrous, but enough to see them bumped down to second place in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
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Grimsby lined up in traditional 4-4-2 formation – increasingly rarely seen these days – and striker Andy Cook was on the end of an early cross by Derek Niven but failed to direct his header on target.
Home goalkeeper James McKeown was tested for the first time in the 14th minute, palming away Eddie Oshodi's near-post flick from a Ben Wright corner.
Possibly the world's stupidest streaker decided to interrupt proceedings 25 minutes in, forgetting even to remove his jeans before trying to outrun the stewards.
He was eventually removed from the ground after a less than dignified scuffle, although the delay afforded the players an unscheduled drinks break on a sun-drenched afternoon.
Injuries to Cook and Bradley Wood forced the Mariners to make two substitutions before half-time, hardly ideal given the conditions.
And they were grateful to McKeown for preserving parity, the keeper plunging to his left to beat away a fizzing free-kick from Wright.
Sam Russell pulled off an even better low stop at the other end to foil Dayle Southwell, although the assistant referee had already flagged for offside.
Aarran Racine thought he had broken the deadlock in the third minute of first-half stoppage time when he got on the end of another Wright delivery, but once again McKeown was alert to palm away from close range.
The early throes of the second half were played at a more lethargic tempo, and it was almost a shock to everyone's system when Frankie Artus swung over a free-kick from the right and Pond leapt above Russell amid a crowd scene to open the scoring.
Dave Hockaday responded by hauling off Wright and Al Bangura – much to the latter's obvious annoyance – and introduced Omar Koroma and James Rowe.
But it was fellow substitute Matty Taylor who twice threatened to level, firing at McKeown after a solo run before striking the side-netting from a tight angle on 82 minutes.
Joint Grimsby manager Paul Hurst had to watch the final three minutes from the stands after a touchline altercation with Ed Asafu-Adjaye, echoing last season's ill-tempered clash when Rovers assistant Gary Seward was similarly banished.
But the home dugout was the jubilant one at the final whistle, which came seconds after McKeown had pulled off a smothering save to deny James Norwood.
Grimsby Town: J. McKeown; B. Wood (S. Hatton 37), N. Pond, S. Pearson, A. Thomas; J. Colbeck, D. Niven, C. Disley, F. Artus (A. Thanoj 83); A. Cook (D. Southwell 20), A. Elding; Subs not used: S. Ford, L. Soares.
Forest Green: S. Russell; J. Turley, A. Racine, E. Oshodi, E. Asafu-Adjaye; K. Forbes, A. Bangura (J. Rowe 66), J. Collins; J. Norwood, R. Styche (M. Taylor 60), B. Wright (O. Koroma 64); Subs not used: P. Marsh, M. Bulman.
Referee: S. Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear)
Star man: Eddie Oshodi – Continues to excel as a leader and organiser in the Rovers rearguard.